Whey protein could help control blood glucose levels in people type 2 diabetes when eaten before breakfast, new research suggests.
A team from Newcastle University unveiled findings from two small, separate studies at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference, which is currently taking place in Manchester.
Whey protein is a common sports nutrition supplement, often used by gym goers in the form of a milkshake or bar. It is thought that the ingredient can help boost muscle strength and decrease levels of the hormone ghrelin, which tells the brain when the body is hungry.
It has also been investigated before as a diabetes treatment – last year Israeli researchers reported that whey protein could also improve satiety as well as lowering blood glucose levels.
In the first of these new trials, 12 obese men who ate 20 grams of whey protein before a high-calorie breakfast and walkied for 30 minutes afterwards achieved better blood sugar levels.
In the second study, 11 men with type 2 diabetes were given 15 grams of whey protein before breakfast and achieved similar improvements.
Lead researcher Dr Daniel West from Newcastle University said: “We know that high blood glucose levels after eating can contribute to poor blood glucose management and can also be detrimental to cardiovascular health.
“We’ve shown that consuming small amounts of whey protein before a meal could help people avoid those high blood glucose levels and may help them to feel more satisfied after mealtimes.”
Director of research at Diabetes UK, Dr Elizabeth Robertson, said: “This new research adds to other small scale studies that have promising results.
“However, larger scale studies involving a lot more people are needed to test this idea further, so we can understand if anyone with type 2 diabetes would benefit from including whey protein in their diet and how best to do that.”