Whey protein may be a great weapon in the fight against type 2 diabetes. And it may also help you lose weight.
We’ve actually known this for a while– just last year, in the world Journal of Diabetes, researchers published a paper entitled Whey Protein: The “whey” forward for treatment of type 2 diabetes?. But a new study from Tel Aviv University presented at the Endocrine Society meeting on April 1, 2016, confirms it.
Researchers have long known that high protein breakfasts have metabolic advantages over the typical high carb American breakfast. A number of studies have tested breakfasts of eggs against breakfasts of bagels and found eggs the clear winner in the weight loss sweepstakes. One study found that, when combined with a lower-calorie diet, the “egg breakfast enhances weight loss”; a second study also compared eggs to bagels and found that eggs induced “greater satiety and significantly reduced short-term food intake”.
In the new study, researchers started with the assumption that high protein breakfasts do indeed have a metabolic advantage, but they wanted to know if the type of protein mattered. So they took 48 overweight or obese diabetics, and divided them into three groups. In the first group, subjects ate a high protein breakfast with whey protein; in the second group, they also ate a high protein breakfast, but this time the protein was eggs or fish; and in the third group, subjects ate a high carb breakfast. Calories were the same across all three conditions.
Even meal size was kept constant across all conditions. “A high-calorie protein breakfast, medium-sized lunch, and small dinner is a proven successful strategy for weight loss, improved satiety and reduced glucose spikes throughout the day in people with obesity and Type 2 diabetes”, lead study author Daniela Jakubowicz, MD, told Science Daily.
So what happened with the three breakfast conditions?
Well, after 12 weeks, the whey protein group lost the most weight (about 16 ½ pounds). Second place was the group that ate the high protein breakfast using non-whey protein sources—they lost an average of 13 ½ pounds. Bringing up the rear was the high carb group, with 6.8 pounds of average weight loss.
The measurement researchers were most interested in was what’s known as glycolated hemoglobin, or hemoglobin A1C. The A1C test is a kind of long-term measurement of blood sugar, and is usually used to diagnose diabetes. (An A1C level of 5.7 or lower is considered normal; 6.5 or higher gets you a diagnosis of diabetes, while 5.7-6.4 is generally considered “pre-diabetes”.)
In this study, the whey protein group saw the most significant reduction in their A1C levels over the course of almost two years of follow-up. The whey protein group also had the greatest reduction in blood sugar spikes.
“The whey protein diet significantly suppresses the hunger hormone ‘ghrelin””, Jakubowicz said. “A whey protein drink is easily prepared and provides the advantages of a high-protein breakfast on weight loss, reduction of hunger, glucose spikes and A1C.”
I’ve written glowingly about whey protein many times, and even gave it a star in my book, The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth. Not only does it fill you up and give you all the metabolic advantages shown in the studies, but it is also a great immune system booster. It also stimulates the body to produce more glutathione, arguably the most important antioxidant that the body makes.
All whey protein is not the same, however. Much like meat and milk and eggs, you want your whey protein to come from grass-fed cows only. The whey protein we selected for our Smart Fat Whey Protein Powder is 100% grass-fed and manufactured for us by Thorne Research, one of the most respected nutraceutical companies in the world. And it tastes delicious! And… it’s 30% off right now in our store.
Here’s one of my most favorite basic whey protein shakes. I love having this after tennis. I usually play from about 7:30-9 every morning (fueled by a cup or two of high-fat coffee), and grab one of these before heading upstairs to work. Try it, it’s amazing.
Dr. Jonny’s Special Five-Ingredient Whey Protein Shake
1 glass of liquid (I use raw, unpasteurized, full-fat milk which is still, thankfully, legal in the state I live in; you can use any “milk” of your choice—almond milk, coconut milk, rice milk, or even plain water)
¼- 1/3 cup frozen cherries
¼-1/3 cup frozen spinach (frozen blends better and keeps the spinach from turning stringy and getting into your teeth!)
½ an avocado (peeled, of course!)
(handful of ice cubes for frothiness—optional)
Blend in a VitaMix (or powerful blender) and enjoy! It’ll definitely keep you at the top of your game till lunch!