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Packing a Metabolic Punch – Protein May Have Long-term Effects on Body’s Insulin Secretion

The long-term effects of a high-protein diet remain a hotly debated mystery, but a German team says such eating regimens may hold a lot of promise. According to a study published in the October 2000 issue of Diabetologia, meals high in protein stimulate glucagon secretion and increase insulin release.

the study asked non-diabetic volunteers to record their food items for five days, then identified those who ate less or more than the World Health Organization’s recommended daily allowance of dietary protein. The subjects were asked to continue their eating habits for the course of six months, then subjected to a series of tests identifying insulin secretion, glucagon production and other measures of glucose metabolism.

At the study’s end, its authors found that insulin secretion was substantially higher in the high-protein group than it was in the group with lower protein. Plasma insulin glucose was raised, not just by short-term ingestion of protein, but also in the long run. Fasting plasma glucagon levels were also 34 percent higher in the high-protein group than they were in its counterpart, and tests showed that protein intake increased the glucose sensitivity of the endocrine pancreas by 15 percent.

The researchers conclude that high-protein diets can alter the body’s glucose metabolism, not only for the duration of a single meal, but for longer periods of time as well.

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