Don’t Forget, Amino Acids Cause Insulin Release Too

weight lossIt 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.  

milk insulin whey

Proteins cause the release of insulin because of the amino acids they contain. The ability of protein to cause insulin release varies considerably, but milk proteins are considered to have significant effects on insulin and blood sugar levels. Consuming proteins with sources of sugar such as fruit, can therefore cause significant amounts of insulin to be released from the pancreas.

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Nilsson, M., Stenberg, M., Frid, A. H., Holst, J. J. and Björck, I. M. 2004. Glycemia and insulinemia in healthy subjects after lactose-equivalent meals of milk and other food proteins: the role of plasma amino acids and incretins. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 80: 1246-1253

About Robert Barrington

Robert Barrington is a writer, nutritionist, lecturer and philosopher.
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