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The research, published by Newcastle University, suggests that drinking a small amount of protein before meals has been found to help patients with type 2 diabetes manage their blood sugar levels.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in the UK, accounting for around 90 percent of cases in comparison to type 1 which makes up the other 10 percent.
In their research, published in the BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care journal, the researchers studied a small group of type 2 diabetics and how they reacted to a pre-made shot of whey protein before meals.
Each of these participants was then monitored for a week and asked to continue their daily routine as part of the project.
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Diabetes test and someone pouring whey protein.
The results from the study showed that those who consumed the whey protein shot had more control over their glucose levels and had on average two extra hours a day of normal blood sugar levels compared to those who didn’t take the shot.
Furthermore, their blood glucose levels were also lower compared to those who didn’t have the whey protein.
Overall, 18 people with type 2 diabetes drank the 100ml shot containing 15 grams of protein 10 minutes before breakfast, lunch, and dinner. At no point did they stop their diabetes medication.
Principal Investigator on the study, Dr Daniel West, 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.”

Dr West added: “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 climbing so high.”
Furthermore, Dr West said their tests were important given the growing number of people with diabetes worldwide: “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.”
Meanwhile, PhD student Kieran Smith who analysed 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.”
While an interesting result, this does not mean that whey protein is a silver supplement bullet to diabetes management, rather, the team intend to do more.
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A bowel of beans and rice.
Going forward, the intentions of the university are to further explore the benefits of non-medical interventions and run the study on a larger scale and for up to a period of six months.
Two of the major limitations of the study were the small group sample size and short timespan of the project. Expanding the group and timeframe will help remove these limitations.
Furthermore, the team say they want to investigate other proteins such as those which come from plant-based sources including peas, fungi, and potatoes.
The reason for this is to open up options for those who are vegan or have special dietary needs as whey protein is a by-product of cheese.
Symptoms of diabetes.
The British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) say: “Protein is needed for growth and repair of body tissues and is especially important for healthy muscles and bones, particularly for children.
“Good food sources of protein are meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, nuts and soya, beans, peas and lentils. Smaller amounts are also found in grains and cereals.”
The BNF write: “The Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) for protein for adults is 0.75g protein per kg body weight per day; this equates to 56g/day and 45g/day for men and women of average body weights (75 and 60kg respectively).
“RNIs have also been set for children from birth to 10 years and for pregnancy and lactation.”
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