European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 118, Issue 9, pp 1959–1968 | Cite as

Effects of acute ingestion of whey protein with or without prior aerobic exercise on postprandial glycemia in type 2 diabetics

  • Karl E. Cogan
  • Brendan Egan
Original Article



Acute protein co-ingestion or a single bout of aerobic exercise can attenuate postprandial glycemia, but their combined effect has not been investigated in type 2 diabetics.


Using a randomised crossover design, male type 2 diabetics (n = 8) [mean (95% CI); age, 55.0 (45.2, 64.8) year; BMI, 33.7 (25.6, 41.8) kg·m− 2; 2 h glucose 14.0 (12.5, 15.5) mM] completed (1) 75 g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) (CON); (2) OGTT supplemented with 0.33 g·kg BM− 1 of whey protein concentrate (PRO); or OGTT supplemented with PRO but preceded by a bout of aerobic cycling exercise (PRO + EX). Postprandial venous blood samples were collected for glucose, insulin, C-peptide and glucagon.


Despite a fold-increase of 1.90 (1.26, 2.56; p < 0.05) in postprandial insulin compared to CON, PRO failed to attenuate postprandial glycemia measured by 2 h glucose area under the curve. During PRO + EX, plasma glucose was elevated by 1.51 (0.5, 2.5) mM and 1.3 (0.3, 2.3) mM at 15 and 30 min, respectively, compared to CON, but was lower by 1.60 (0.6, 2.6) mM and 1.5 (0.5, 2.5) mM at 90 and 120 min, respectively (all p < 0.01). The additive effect of exercise and protein ingestion resulted in a fold-increase of 1.67 (1.35, 2.00; p < 0.05) in postprandial glucagon compared to CON.


In type 2 diabetics, prior aerobic exercise altered the humoral response to co-ingestion of whey protein with a carbohydrate load, but neither protein ingestion alone nor when preceded by prior exercise attenuated postprandial glycemia.


Diabetes Glycemic control Nutrition Supplementation Ventilatory threshold 



American Diabetes Association


Area under the curve (AUC).


Beats per minute


Branched-chain amino acids




Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry


Effect size


Glucose-stimulated insulin secretion


Glycated haemoglobin


Homeostatic model assessment-insulin resistance


Incremental area under the curve


Lactate threshold


Muscle protein synthesis


Normal glucose tolerant


Oral glucose insulin sensitivity


Oral glucose tolerance test


Whey protein


Whey protein preceded by aerobic exercise


Type 2 diabetes




Ventilatory threshold


Maximal oxygen uptake


Power output



The authors would like to thank all participants for their time, patience and dedication to the study. Dr. Cogan's present address is Section of Integrative Physiology, Department of Molecular Medicine & Surgery, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.

Author contributions

KEC and BE designed the study. KEC collected and analysed data. KEC and BE interpreted results and wrote the manuscript. BE is the guarantor of this work.


This work was supported by Food for Health Ireland (F.H.I) and Enterprise Ireland (Grant no. TC2013001).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no potential conflicts of interest to declare.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Sport and HealthUniversity College DublinDublinIreland
  2. 2.Food for Health IrelandUniversity College DublinDublinIreland
  3. 3.School of Health and Human PerformanceDublin City UniversityDublin 9Ireland
  4. 4.National Institute for Cellular BiotechnologyDublin City UniversityDublinIreland

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