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What happens to your sugar levels when you eat a steak ?
Believe it or not, your ability to put away sugar – INCREASES !
But despite this improvement, your glucose levels, won’t take a dip.
Amino acids are a grocery
Insulin puts away the groceries………
This is his job description.
Now most of the time, when insulin is being talked about, the focus is on glucose, but he is responsible for putting away, amino acids too.
And this can be a treacherous thing.
The problem, amino acids are substrates for gluconeogenesis….
A conflict of interest
If the amino acids, get into the liver and switch on glucose production, glucose would be pouring out the back door, whilst insulin is shoving, the glucose in, through the front door.
Organized chaos !
Now one could argue, this is actually what happens when you’re metabolically broken.
The signal to turn off production of sugar, is faulty, so…..
Dietary sugar + continued endogenous glucose production = a sugar spike of gargantuan proportion.
So putting away amino acids, requires a little lot of juggling.
Glucagon handles the protein
Now despite rumors to the contrary, glucagon has very little interest in glucose, he is an amino acid MAN HORMONE, at heart. He pops out of the pancreas, encouraging the liver, to install amino acid gates, so that more amino acids can be taken up, thus helping insulin, put away the amino acids, SAFELY !
And in the process…………the disposal of sugar, IMPROVES.
By as much as 25 %.
This is somewhat surprising, because glucagon, is normally depicted as insulin’s antithesis i.e. insulin puts away sugar, while glucagon, releases it.
But this is what a team of Australian researches uncovered, when they did an oral protein tolerance test.
Okay, okay…………. there is no such thing !
What there is, is an oral glucose tolerance test or OGTT for short.
It’s often used to diagnose diabetes.
In the test, a person is required to down an insipidly sweet solution – the rise and fall, of their glucose levels is then monitored………
In normal healthy folks, the sugar spikes and within about 60 minutes, it’s back to normal.
In someone with metabolic issues, the sugar spike, lasts a whole lot longer.
Protein pig out
In the “oral protein tolerance test”, the glucose was switched out, in it’s place was 75 g of whey protein isolate – that’s the equivalent of an three medium size steak.
Since the subjects participating in the study, were ordinary folks, not the winners of an eating contest, the protein drink was consumed in three installments, of 25 g each, over and hour.
One at the start, one at 30 min and one at 60 min.
Then everything was tracked…………
The protein spiked the insulin
The protein ingestion had NO effect on plasma glucose, but there was a rapid and sustained insulin response.
Protein ingestion also caused marked hyperglucagonemia.
Now, both insulin and glucagon, increased………. there was a difference, in how the two hormones “behaved”.
The insulin peaked after about an hour – returning to baseline. The glucagon took a lot longer to hit, it’s high, which happened around the 2 hour mark. It wasn’t back down to“normal”, when the study ended, after 4 hours.
What about the amino acids ?
The team tracked the individual amino acids, here is the plot for leucine, the amino acid that dominates whey protein, but all the amino acids, behaved in a similar way.
From the date, it was clearn that the amino acids, had begun to be put away……………. but at the 4 hour mark, there was still some way to go, to get them all tucked away.
This study was not able to say, where the amino acids had gone….
Some had definitely ended up in the liver, where they had been chopped up…….. this was reflected by the increase in urea.
And the sugar ?
Well in this study, there was NONE in the drink, so our team, infused glucose in, at the same time, as the volunteers were gorging on the whey protein shake. But the glucose they infused, was a “glow in the dark” version………
It had been labeled with a special isotope, [6,6-2H]glucose, which allowed the team to track what happened, to these specific glucose molecules.
Glucose goes in, MORE
They found, more sugar went in………
Odds are, it went into fat and muscle cells, since neither of these cells, respond to glucagon.
The take home message…
Have steak with that potato
In the real world, the odds of having a protein only meal, is rather unlikely. We mix and match, our micronutrients.
Well we should………..
Too much insulin is NOT A GOOD THING, but there is no need to worry, about the insulin response, elicited by the protein portion of your meal, or the fact that protein causes, gluconeogenesis. In fact, you’re going to be a lot better off, adding a portion of protein to your plate.
Glucagon is riding shot gun with insulin.
He is complementing insulin, not opposing him, during dinner.
Working together they get the job done…..
NOTE : Just like insulin, glucagon levels can be inappropriately high, in fact, hyperglucagonemia is associated with insulin resistance and there is a school of thought, that glucagon resistance is part of the troubles in metabolic syndrome etc.
The key to better body chemistry for the diabetic, is to blunt the rise in sugar. A whey cocktail prior to a meal is an easy way to reduce sugar spikes…
You’ve decided to go on diet to lose some of those extra pounds. You plan to lose the fat, which is creating the somewhat unsightly belly tyre, but will you ?
Are you trying to keep your appetite in check through willpower ? Make sure to load up your plate with protein if you want to stop the give me MOREs.