How Whey Protein Affects Diabetes – A Guide to Whey Protein and Diabetes

Posted March 16, 2020 by Clint Kelly - See Editorial Guidelines

As many of you already know, carbohydrates can have a negative impact on the blood sugar levels of those with diabetes. But what about protein, and more specifically, whey protein? How does whey protein affect diabetes?

In today’s culture, it seems like a new diet or nutritional fad is coming out every week. Some of these diets include paleo, keto, carnivore, vegan, etc. However, these diets may not be right for everyone, and they can have a negative effect on those with medical conditions such as diabetes.

So, here we won’t discuss a specific diet, but rather focus on whey protein and diabetes.

How Does Whey Protein Affect Diabetes? Whey protein and diabetes are a beneficial combination, as protein can promote weight loss and increase insulin production in those with type 2 diabetes. Whey protein also contains amino acids that are essential for providing the body with antioxidants.

What is Whey Protein?

How Whey Protein Affects Diabetes

Whey protein is most often recognized as a supplement in the form of powder. If you walk into a local vitamin store, whey tends to be the most popular form of protein supplement.

In its natural form, though, whey protein is often found in dairy products such as milk, yogurt, and cheese. Dairy milk has two main types of protein known as casein and whey. Whey makes up about 20% of the protein in milk.

So, how does whey protein become a powder? Whey protein is the byproduct of the cheese-making process. I know this doesn’t sound very pleasant, but stick with me here.

Manufacturers of cheese used to discard the byproduct before recognizing its value. After realizing the byproduct has serious commercial value, they began making use of it. Whey protein goes through various processes after it has been separated from the cheese to make it into what most people recognize as the powder supplement.

The supplement can be used to make shakes and protein bars. This is extremely beneficial for those that struggle to meet their protein intake for the day or for those that are looking to build muscle.

As unpleasant as it sounds to make whey protein, it contains nutritional value that is essential for the human body. This includes amino acids which are the building blocks for building muscle.

Since whey protein is derived from dairy products, those that are lactose intolerant or have another allergy to dairy products may not find it to be as beneficial.

Whey protein is different than other proteins such as soy or casein because it is absorbed quicker. This allows for better protein synthesis. However, most proteins contain essential amino acids and will be beneficial for building muscle.

How Whey Protein Affects Diabetes

There are various ways that whey protein affects diabetes, which are positive. Here is a list for you.

Amino Acids

Whey protein contains crucial amino acids that the body needs. One of these amino acids is L-cysteine. When it comes to whey protein and diabetes, this amino acid has been known to be extremely beneficial.

L-cysteine may have a glucose-lowering effect on those with type 2 diabetes by reducing insulin resistance. It may also prevent damage to blood vessels, which is often caused by diabetes.

Much research is still needed to determine how L-cysteine affects humans with type 2 diabetes. However, in a study done with diabetic rats, the amino acid proved to lower glucose levels and prevent blood vessel inflammation.

Though research is not complete and the evidence on how this amino acid impacts people with diabetes is not full proof, you will still benefit from proper protein and amino acid intake.

Better Postprandial Blood Sugar Levels

Postprandial blood sugar is the level of your blood sugar after having a meal. As it turns out, whey protein and diabetes can provide one with better postprandial blood sugar levels.

Some studies suggest that whey protein may have a glucose-lowering effect on those with type 2 diabetes. Those with type 2 diabetes that include whey protein as part of their regular diet may experience higher insulin levels. This allows for glucose levels to be lowered and better controlled.

Increased insulin responses can provide enhanced blood glucose control, especially after eating. It can be difficult for patients with diabetes to control blood sugar levels after meals, which makes adding proper protein into your diet is hugely beneficial.

Ultimately, better postprandial blood sugar readings can result in better hemoglobin A1c test results, as well as better overall health.

Promotes Weight Loss

How Whey Protein Affects Diabetes

Those with type 2 diabetes may suffer from insulin resistance due to excess belly fat. An excellent way to improve insulin sensitivity is to work towards losing weight. However, losing weight is no easy task. One excellent way whey protein affects diabetes is through the promotion of weight loss.

It has been suggested, for those that are overweight and looking to shred a few pounds, to follow a low carb and high protein diet. Increasing the consumption of whey protein can promote weight loss as it makes you feel fuller.

Studies suggest that whey protein decreases ghrelin. Ghrelin is known as the “hunger hormone.” This is the hormone that makes you feel hungry. So, as you up your intake of protein, the more you’ll feel full, allowing you to have more self-control over your hunger. Ultimately, this will enable you to stake a step towards losing weight. Therefore, with the more protein you include in your diet, the less carbohydrates and low-quality foods that you will crave.

Having a whey protein shake in the morning or midday can satisfy your hunger craving for a good portion of the day. Doing this allows you to get the nutrients your body needs while allowing you to consume less calories.

Decreases Inflammation

It can be challenging to lose weight and control blood sugar levels if you are suffering from inflammation. Inflammation can occur due to a variety of reasons, but inflammation is your body’s response to damage.

Those who have diabetes tend to have higher inflammation markers. One fundamental cause of inflammation in those with diabetes is insulin resistance.

The amount of inflammation in your body is measured through a c-reactive protein test. Your liver produces c-reactive protein, which is released into the bloodstream as part of your body’s response to inflammation.

High whey protein consumption was shown to reduce the amount of c-reactive proteins. This suggests that incorporating higher doses of whey protein supplements into your diet can reduce inflammation. Reducing inflammation can prove to be extremely helpful in losing weight and controlling blood sugar levels.

Decreases Triglycerides and Cholesterol

Triglycerides are a type of fat that your body needs, as it can be used for energy. However, there are healthy and unhealthy levels of triglycerides. High levels of triglycerides can increase your risk of heart disease.

It is estimated that about one-quarter of the people in the U.S have elevated levels of triglycerides. Those that are overweight and have type 2 diabetes generally have higher levels.

Studies show that having a high protein and low-fat diet can decrease triglyceride levels. Even having a whey protein supplement after meals can help lower triglycerides in those with diabetes.

How Much Protein Do You Need?

The amount of protein that you should consume depends on your specific goals. For example, a person that is in the gym often and trying to pack on muscle mass should be consuming more protein than the average person.

Typically, though, about 0.36 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight should be consumed for the average person. So, for an individual weighing 200 pounds, about 72 grams of protein should be consumed in a day.

Overall, meeting your protein needs can be difficult for some. So, whey protein supplements can be a simple way to get the proper nutrition you need.

Conclusion

We hope that this article has given you some helpful insight into how whey protein affects diabetes. Check out our blog page for more information regarding diabetes and other medical insight.

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