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Consuming Milk at Breakfast Lowers Blood Glucose Throughout the Day

A new study has found that you may be able to lower your blood glucose throughout the day by consuming milk with a high-carbohydrate breakfast such as cereal, Eurekalert reports. Researchers said they increased the protein concentration and proportion of whey protein in milk used for the study, and found that the high-protein treatment also reduced appetite after the second meal, compared with the low-protein equivalent.

The conclusion of this study — that consuming milk with cereal for breakfast lowers your blood glucose throughout the day — may be the headline, but if you read the article carefully, you’ll find the real story behind the headline is entirely different. These scientists specifically were looking at the effect of various levels of milk protein and casein-to-whey ratios of milks consumed with cereal. In other words, researchers deliberately increased the protein available in the milk to achieve the reported results, and if you read the actual study, you’ll find it took three times the amount of concentrated protein to achieve the reported results — something you won’t find in a regular glass of milk.

What this study really says, then, is that increasing whey protein at breakfast may help you decrease your blood glucose levels by lunchtime — NOT that drinking a glass of milk with a high-carb cereal does this. If you feel deceived by the headlines, you’re not alone. Every day, we face an onslaught of headlines and articles promoting foods that, if you look beyond the fancy names and packaging, aren’t good for you at all. In truth, it’s a marketing maneuver that requires you to read beyond the headlines and do your own homework when it comes to knowing what’s best for you to eat.

That said, whey protein does have amazing health benefits — and you don’t have to eat a high-carb breakfast to achieve those benefits, either. Whey protein is a byproduct of milk and cheese (often referred to as the gold standard of protein), and while it’s true that protein helps decrease hunger and give your metabolism a boost, a number of studies suggest high-protein diets produce greater weight loss. But there's also compelling evidence suggesting too much protein may promote cancer growth by activating the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) mechanism.

So how much protein do you need? Proteins are found in all types of food, but only meat, eggs, cheese and other foods from animal sources contain complete proteins, meaning they provide the eight essential amino acids. For optimal health, I believe most adults need about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of lean body mass (not total body weight), or 0.5 grams of protein per pound of lean body mass. Seniors, pregnant women and those who are aggressively exercising (or competing) generally need about 25 percent more protein.

And, as I explain in my book, “Fat for Fuel,” and my upcoming book, “Superfuel,” the best way to get your protein is NOT by consuming a high-carb breakfast. If you want to supplement your diet with whey protein products, be mindful of your selection. Many of the whey and protein powders on the market are pasteurized and loaded with sugar and chemicals that don't belong in a healthy diet.

To learn more about how whey protein can boost your exercise performance when used as a post-workout recovery meal, please see this previous article, or check out my previous interview with fitness expert Ori Hofmekler.
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