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Carbohydrates, glycemic index and diabetes mellitus

Effects of whey proteins on glycaemia and insulinaemia to an oral glucose load in healthy adults; a dose–response study




Whey proteins have insulinogenic properties and the effect appears to be mediated from a postprandial plasma amino-acid (AA) response. The aim was to study the possible dose–response relationship between whey intake and glycaemic-, insulinaemic- and plasma AA responses.


Twelve healthy volunteers participated in the study. They were provided three whey protein drinks, containing 4.5, 9 or 18 g protein as breakfast meals in random order. All meals contained 25 g available carbohydrates (glucose). The same amount of glucose in water was used as reference.


Linear dose–response relations were found between whey protein intake and postprandial glycaemia, insulinaemia and plasma AAs. The two highest doses, 18 g and 9 g, significantly reduced postprandial glycaemia (incremental area under the curve (iAUC) 0–120 min; P0.05). The 18 g dose significantly increased the insulin response (iAUC 0–120 min; P0.05). All measured plasma AAs (15 in total), except glutamic acid, responded in a dose-dependent way, and the 9 and 18 g doses resulted in significantly higher plasma levels of AAs compared with the reference.


Whey protein affects glycaemia, insulinaemia and plasma AAs to a glucose load in a dose-dependent manner. Comparatively low doses of whey protein (9 g) reduced postprandial glycaemia significantly when added to a carbohydrate-rich meal.

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This study was funded by the Lund University Antidiabetic Food Center, a VINNOVA VINN Excellence Center.

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Correspondence to U J Gunnerud.

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The authors declare no conflict of interest.

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Contributors: UJG coordinated the study and was involved in the study design, the collection and analysis of the data, statistical analysis and the evaluation and the writing of the paper. EMÖ was involved in the study design, interpretation of data and in writing the paper. IMEB was involved in the study design and for securing the funding and was involved in the evaluation and in writing the paper. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Gunnerud, U., Östman, E. & Björck, I. Effects of whey proteins on glycaemia and insulinaemia to an oral glucose load in healthy adults; a dose–response study. Eur J Clin Nutr 67, 749–753 (2013).

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  • amino acids
  • glycaemic index
  • insulinaemic index
  • whey protein

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