It is widely known that carbohydrates cause the release of insulin. It is perhaps less widely known that certain amino acids also cause a significant release of insulin from the pancreas. As with carbohydrates, amino acids require insulin to enter the cells, and for this reason, when they are detected in the small intestine, insulin release occurs in order to facilitate their uptake by cells. Studies have investigated the amino acids that have the greatest effects on insulin in order to determine the most insulinogenic protein. One studies found that leucine, valine, lysine, and isoleucine were the amino acids associated with the greatest insulin release in healthy human subjects. These amino acids were also associated with the release of the incretin glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP), a peptide hormone known to stimulate the release of insulin. The same researchers showed that milk and whey proteins had significant insulin stimulating properties, perhaps because of the insulinotropic amino acid they contain.
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