Just a Small Amount of Protein Supplement Helps Control Type 2 Diabetes

According to a new study, drinking a small amount of whey protein before meals can help control blood sugar in individuals with type 2 diabetes.

Drinking a small serving of whey protein before meals has been shown to help people with type 2 diabetes control their blood sugars.

According to new research, which holds the potential for dietary management of type 2 diabetes, participants with the condition drank a pre-made shot before meals which contained a low dose of whey protein. They were monitored for a week as they went about normal daily life.

To compare the potential benefits of whey protein, the same people also spent a week drinking a control shot that contained no protein in order to measure the results against each other.

Results from continuous glucose monitoring revealed that glucose levels were much better controlled when taking the whey supplement before meals. On average, participants had two hours extra per day of normal blood sugar levels compared to the no protein week. Additionally, their daily blood glucose levels were 0.6 mmol/L lower compared to when they consumed the control supplement without any protein.

Kieran Smith in the lab with the protein shots. Credit: Newcastle University, UK

Dr. Daniel West, Senior Lecturer and Principal Investigator working within the Human Nutrition Research Centre and Diabetes Research Group at Newcastle University, UK said: “While previous studies for a few hours in the lab have shown the potential for this dietary intervention, this is the first time that people have been monitored as they go about normal life.

“People were able to stick to the regime and liked the idea of having a convenient, tasty, small pre-made drink that could be carried with them and taken before meals.” — Kieran Smith

“We believe the whey protein works in two ways, firstly, by slowing down how quickly food passes through the digestive system and secondly, by stimulating a number of important hormones that prevent the blood sugars from climbing so high.

“As we see growing numbers of people around the world developing diabetes, investigating the potential of alternatives to drugs such as food supplements becomes more important.”

18 people with type 2 diabetes consumed a small drink — in a 100 ml shot — with 15 grams (0.5 ounces) of protein 10 minutes before breakfast, lunch, and dinner over seven days and remained on their prescribed diabetes medication. Continuous glucose monitoring automatically tracked blood glucose levels over the course of the week.

Newcastle University PhD student, Kieran Smith, who oversaw the glucose monitoring and analyzed the data, said: “People were able to stick to the regime and liked the idea of having a convenient, tasty, small pre-made drink that could be carried with them and taken before meals.”

The team intends to further explore the benefits of non-medical interventions by running the study on a larger scale and for a longer period of up to six months. They also plan to look at alternative proteins, such as those that come from plant sources like peas, fungi, and potatoes to open up options for vegan and religious dietary needs.

Reference: “Thrice daily consumption of a novel, pre-meal shot containing a low dose of whey protein increases time in euglycemia during 7days of free-living in individuals with type 2 diabetes” by Kieran Smith, Guy S Taylor, Lise H Brunsgaard, Mark Walker, Kelly A Bowden Davies, Emma J Stevenson and Daniel J West, 26 May 2022, BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.
DOI: 10.1136/bmjdrc-2022-002820

DiabetesFood ScienceNewcastle UniversityNutritionPopularProteinSupplement
Comments ( 18 )
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  • Sekar

    Very Interesting.

    Recalling the Nursery Rhyme

    “Little Miss Muffet Sat on a Tuffet,
    Eating her “Curds and Whey”,
    Along came a spider and sat beside her,
    And frightened Ms Muffet Away”.

    “Whey” is the liquid portion left after the Curd is filtered away.

    Sometimes there is great wisdom in Old Grandmothers tales. They always made us drink the left over liquids along with diluted curd, saying it is excellent for digestion.

    Surprising that research is leading to the same conclusion. Maybe we should pay more attention to Grandmas tales when doing food chemistry research. Who knows what gems of wisdom are hidden in these tales.

    Views expressed are personal and not binding on anyone.

  • Summayah Khan

    Old wives tales are true and works 100 percent . The old were experts.

  • Noni

    Milk is the source of whey protein and consumption in the US has dropped 30% in 20 years.

  • Shafik H Siddiki

    There is a lot to be said for old wives tales being the collective wisdom of humankind derived from experience.

  • K S N

    Milk consumption has dropped, most likely because of the hormones they use in the production process.

  • Doug

    0.6 mmol/l ~ 10 mg/dl. Mostly in the “noise” for most diabetics.

  • Jimmie Donovan

    Wow! 18 whole subjects.

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  • Oria Kunin

    I wonder if drinking whey before meals made the control group eat less and if that also had a factor on the glucose levels.

  • joseph

    i know how good whey is for you, but what the boat the info regarding whey protein spiking your insulin….. No mentioning that!

  • Mike B

    The results have nothing to do with whey being good for digestion. The point is that increased protein slows digestion and therefore slows entry of glucose to the bloodstream. If these subjects were to increase the protein already present in their meal the results would be similar. Cutting back the carbs would reverse DM2 in the first place, but patients would never do that. Diabetes is a disease of food abundance, untreated mental illness (as in compulsive eating to self manage depression, anxiety, and trauma), good ol American lack of impulse control.

  • K Ward

    Mike B-
    Re your comment, Please read The Mind-Gut Connection; Emeran Mayer, MD. It’s much more complicated than that.
    Take care

  • Bob

    This study is an old wives tale. Read the actual study, whey protein does not improve diabetes it is better than taking a supplement with sugar. These posts are why America has doubled diabetes in the last 20 years. Looking for misinformation to confirm their poor dietary choices. high fat and protein diets cause diabetes in the long term. Don’t fall for short term misleading studies.

  • xABBAAA

    … is there some statistics that indicate that there is some higher chance of contracting a cancer if one has diabetes type 2… or is it just something with goats…

  • Shawn

    Little Miss Muffet
    Sat on her tuffet
    Eating curd and whey.
    Along came a spider,
    Sat down besider her,
    And she killed it with extreme prejudice.

  • Darcy

    Bob said, “high fat and protein diets cause diabetes in the long term.” Citation, please.

  • Jim

    I wonder if a shot of soy protein would work as well?

  • Bobby

    For those of you who enjoy your milk who don’t know any better. Milk is now allowed to have 20% blood and pus from mastitis and cows because of the over milking this is a government regulations, enjoy a glass.