Stop snacking on protein at night, it could be bad for you


The study revealed that waking up at night to consume some protein spiked blood sugar levels the next morning. — AFP

Consuming protein at night increases blood sugar level in the morning for healthy people, according to new research presented last week at the Future Physiology 2020 virtual conference.

Having high blood sugar levels after eating is linked to health problems, such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Previous research has shown that a snack a few hours before a meal can help control blood sugar levels, which may partly explain why the first thing we eat each day (i.e. breakfast) tends to increase blood sugars more than other meals later in the day.

This study investigated whether waking up at night to consume some protein might keep blood sugars lower the next morning.

Surprisingly, the blood sugar response to breakfast was higher when participants had consumed protein rather than plain water at 4am.

These unexpected findings may be informative for people trying to improve their control of blood sugar levels.

One explanation for the result is that the body does not expect or need much food to be consumed during the night and so the protein itself was turned into sugar.

This may result in the body having more carbohydrate already available upon waking.

So, the energy in the breakfast can less easily be used or stored; therefore it builds-up more in the blood.

The researchers at the University of Bath studied 15 healthy young men and women (eight females and seven males), who were woken up at 4am to drink 300ml of a water solution, either with or without 63g of whey protein.

They then went back to sleep and at 9am, were provided with a standard amount of porridge for breakfast, with blood samples collected for two hours afterwards to check the blood glucose response.

The participants then returned to the lab to do the same again a week or so later, but were provided with the other drink at night (4am) to compare the glucose response to the same breakfast

in the same person and see the effects of the night-time protein.

Eleanor Smith, who presented the work, said: “Future research will look at whether this applies to older and overweight people who tend to have more problems controlling their blood sugar levels.

“It would also be interesting to know to what extent our findings are due to eating at an unusual time or the type of protein consumed.” – The Physiological Society

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Whey protein , snacking , glucose


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