Everything you Should Know about Whey Protein and Diabetes

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By : dLife Editors

Recommendations have been made for people living with diabetes to consume foods that digest more slowly and causes a slower rise in blood sugar. Protein is chief among such foods.  Let’s look at a popular source of protein, whey, and how it weighs in for people with diabetes.

What is Whey Protein?

Whey protein, which is one of the major proteins obtained in milk and dairy products, has been used for several years as a sports supplement to enhance muscle growth and increase fat loss. It has, however, been found recently to be great for helping control blood sugar levels in people living with type 2 diabetes, especially when eaten before breakfast.

In a recent study, it was observed in a randomized clinical trial of 15 individuals with well-controlled type 2 diabetes, that blood sugar levels were about 28% lower when fed whey protein together with their meal. Their insulin levels doubled, and also had a long-lasting insulin response. Even though the study only had 15 individuals examined, the design of the study made the results significant.

In summary, the study found that consumption of whey protein may represent a novel approach for enhancing glucose-lowering techniques in type 2 diabetes.

Why is Whey Protein Effective in Decreasing Blood Sugar?

Whey protein has some certain properties that are useful to people with diabetes.  Such properties include:

#1: Whey protein is rich in the amino acid; L-cysteine

L-cysteine is an amino acid that is used to synthesize glutathione which is regarded as a very important antioxidant in the body. The accumulation of free radicals in our body is one of the leading cause of insulin resistance which is responsible for some of the complications that comes with diabetes, including retinopathy, peripheral neuropathy, and kidney damage. This amino acid found in whey protein helps neutralize the free radicals, and thus help with diabetes.

#2: Decreases triglyceride in the body

When protein also has the ability to cause a decreased level of triglyceride in people living with diabetes when taken after meals.

#3: Promotes insulin secretion

When added to meals, whey protein could cause an increase in insulin production and thus decreases the blood sugar after a meal. That is called pre-prandial blood glucose.

#4: It has an anti-inflammatory activity

Maintaining and controlling blood sugar levels and maintaining a healthy weight can be tougher with inflammation, which is present in virtually every individual living with diabetes. The anti-inflammatory property of whey protein has made it not only helpful in reducing blood sugar, but also in losing liver fat.

#5: Whey protein also promotes satiety

Overweight and obesity have been linked severally with diabetes. Because the whey protein makes you feel fuller for a long time, it is perfect to incorporate it into meals to promote weight loss.

How much whey protein do you need?

Whey protein is highly concentrated, and so you don’t have to consume a lot to get an amazing result. It contains up to 15 to 30 grams of protein per serving. That is no doubt, more than you can get from a slice of cheese or a cup of milk. Therefore, you only need around 15 to 30 grams of whey protein to promote weight loss, control your appetite, boost metabolism, and increase insulin sensitivity.


  1. The Nutrition Source; Harvard Teaching Hospital, 2017. “Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar.” Retrieved April 27, 2018. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/carbohydrates-and-blood-sugar/
  2. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017. “What’s new in diabetes?” Retrieved April 27, 2018.  https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/new/index.html
  3. Jack Woodfield, March 9, 2017. “Two small studies indicate benefits of whey protein for type 2 diabetes control.” Retrieved April 27, 2018.   https://www.diabetes.co.uk/news/2017/mar/two-small-studies-indicate-benefits-of-whey-protein-for-type-2-diabetes-control-94525480.html
  4. Daniela J., Oren F., Bo A., Mona B., Zohar L., Yosefa B., Tali G. Maayan B., and Julio W. July 10, 2014. “Incretin, insulinotropic and glucose-lowering effects of whey protein pre-load in type 2 diabetes: a randomized clinical trial.” Retrieved April 27, 2018.  https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00125-014-3305-x
  5. Anders H. F., Mikael N. J., Juul H., and Inger M. E. July 2005. Effect of whey on blood glucose and insulin responses to composite breakfast and lunch meals in type 2 diabetic subjects. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 82, Issue 1, 1 July 2005, Pages 69–7. Retrieved April 27, 2018. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/82/1/69/4863431