Proteins, especially isolates like whey, cause greater stimulation of gut hormone release (especially GLP-1 and glucagon) than other food types like carbohydrates. This is not a simple biological response to account for entirely, but the action of these two peptides results in greater insulin release. So any whey protein should “spike insulin” quickly. Part of it depends on the protein form as well; see references, make your own conclusions. Also keep in mind that an empty or near-empty stomach is going to absorb a liquid protein drink really fast.
I added some abstracts to research in this area, including this most recent Dec 08 Metabolism publication looking specifically at leucine stimulating glucagon and insulin release:
Metabolism. 2008 Dec;57(12):1747-52.
Leucine, when ingested with glucose, synergistically stimulates insulin secretion and lowers blood glucose.
Kalogeropoulou D, Lafave L, Schweim K, Gannon MC, Nuttall FQ.
Endocrine, Metabolism and Nutrition Section, VA Medical Center, Minneapolis, MN 55417, USA.
Our laboratory is interested in the metabolic effects of ingested proteins. As part of this research, we currently are investigating the metabolic effects of ingested individual amino acids. The objective of the current study was to determine whether leucine stimulates insulin and/or glucagon secretion and whether, when it is ingested with glucose, it modifies the glucose, insulin, or glucagon response. Thirteen healthy subjects (6 men and 7 women) were studied on 4 different occasions. Subjects were admitted to the special diagnostic and treatment unit after a 12-hour fast. They received test meals at 8:00 am. On the first occasion, they received water only. Thereafter, they received 25 g glucose or 1 mmol/kg lean body mass leucine or 1 mmol/kg lean body mass leucine plus 25 g glucose in random order. Serum leucine, glucose, insulin, glucagon, and alpha-amino nitrogen concentrations were measured at various times during a 2.5-hour period after ingestion of the test meal. The amount of leucine provided was equivalent to that present in a high-protein meal, that is, that approximately present in a 350-g steak. After leucine ingestion, the leucine concentration increased 7-fold; and the alpha-amino nitrogen concentration increased by 16%. Ingested leucine did not affect the serum glucose concentration. When leucine was ingested with glucose, it reduced the 2.5-hour glucose area response by 50%. Leucine, when ingested alone, increased the serum insulin area response modestly. However, it increased the insulin area response to glucose by an additional 66%; that is, it almost doubled the response. Ingested leucine stimulated an increase in glucagon. Ingested glucose decreased it. When ingested together, the net effect was essentially no change in glucagon area. In summary, leucine at a dose equivalent to that present in a high-protein meal, had little effect on serum glucose or insulin concentrations but did increase the glucagon concentration. When leucine was ingested with glucose, it attenuated the serum glucose response and strongly stimulated additional insulin secretion. Leucine also attenuated the decrease in glucagon expected when glucose alone is ingested. The data suggest that a rise in glucose concentration is necessary for leucine to stimulate significant insulin secretion. This in turn reduces the glucose response to ingested glucose.
Br J Nutr. 2008 Jul;100(1):61-9. Epub 2008 Jan 2.
Glucagon and insulin responses after ingestion of different amounts of intact and hydrolysed proteins.
Claessens M, Saris WH, van Baak MA.
Department of Human Biology, Nutrition and Toxicology Research Institute Maastricht (NUTRIM), Maastricht University, PO Box 616, Maastricht 6200, MD, The Netherlands. M.Claessens@hb.unimaas.nl
Ingestion of dietary protein is known to induce both insulin and glucagon secretion. These responses may be affected by the dose and the form (intact or hydrolysed) in which protein is ingested. The aim of the study was to investigate the effect of different amounts of intact protein and protein hydrolysate of a vegetable (soya) and animal (whey) protein on insulin and glucagon responses and to study the effect of increasing protein loads for both intact protein and protein hydrolysate in man. The study employed a repeated-measures design with Latin-square randomisation and single-blind trials. Twelve healthy non-obese males ingested three doses (0.3, 0.4 and 0.6 g/kg body weight) of intact soya protein (SPI) and soya protein hydrolysate (SPH). Another group of twelve healthy male subjects ingested three doses (0.3, 0.4 and 0.6 g/kg body weight) of intact whey protein (WPI) and whey protein hydrolysate (WPH). Blood was sampled before (t = 0) and 15, 30, 60, 90 and 120 min after protein ingestion for insulin, glucagon and glucose determination. SPI induced a higher total area under the curve for insulin and glucagon than SPH while no difference between WPI and WPH was found. Insulin and glucagon responses increased with increasing protein load for SPI, SPH, WPI and WPH, but the effect was more pronounced for glucagon. A higher dose of protein or its hydrolysate will result in a lower insulin:glucagon ratio, an important parameter for the control of postprandial substrate metabolism. In conclusion, insulin and glucagon responses were protein and hydrolysate specific.
Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2009 Jan;12(1):54-8.
Protein, amino acids and the control of food intake.
Potier M, Darcel N, TomÃ???Ã??Ã?Â© D.
INRA, Paris, France.
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The present review presents recent findings on peripheral and central pathways involved in protein and amino acid-induced satiety. RECENT FINDINGS: A high-protein load leads to a higher decrease of energy intake at the next meal than carbohydrate and fat. A protein-enriched diet induces satiety, improves body composition and results in weight loss. At the peripheral level, proteins seem to induce the release of anorexigenic gut hormones cholecystokinin, glucagon-like peptide-1 and peptide YY, whereas the involvement of ghrelin remains uncertain. Energy expenditure and glucose are probably involved as metabolic signals in protein-induced satiety. Moreover, there is some evidence that the circulating level of leucine could impact food intake. Leucine has been shown to modulate the activity of the energy and nutrient sensor pathways controlled by AMPK and mTOR in the hypothalamus. Moreover, high-protein diets lead to activation of the noradrenergic/adrenergic neuronal pathway in the nucleus of the solitary tract and in melanocortin neurons in the arcuate nucleus. SUMMARY: Complex and redundant pathways are involved in protein and amino acid-induced satiety. Significant advances have recently allowed a better understanding of the involved cellular and molecular mechanisms. The involvement of some specific area of the brain including the hypothalamus and the nucleus of the solitary tract has to be further analyzed.
Int J Obes (Lond). 2007 Nov;31(11):1696-703. Epub 2007 Jun 26.
Appetite hormones and energy intake in obese men after consumption of fructose, glucose and whey protein beverages.
Bowen J, Noakes M, Clifton PM.
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Human Nutrition, Adelaide, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
OBJECTIVE: To investigate appetite responses over 4 h to fructose beverages in obese men, relative to glucose and whey protein. Second, to investigate the effect of combining whey and fructose on postprandial appetite hormones. DESIGN: Randomized, double-blind crossover study of four beverages (1.1 MJ) containing 50 g of whey, fructose, glucose or 25 g whey+25 g fructose. Blood samples and appetite ratings were collected for 4 h then a buffet meal was offered. SUBJECTS: Twenty-eight obese men (age: 57.0+/-1.6 years, body mass index: 32.5+/-0.6 kg/m(2)). MEASUREMENTS: Plasma ghrelin (total), glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1 7-36), cholecystokinin-8, glucose, insulin and appetite ratings were assessed at baseline and 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, 180, 240 min after beverages, followed by measurement of ad libitum energy intake. RESULTS: Fructose produced lower glycaemia and insulinaemia compared to the glucose treatment (P<0.0001); whereas postprandial ghrelin, GLP-1 and cholecystokinin responses were similar after both treatments. Whey protein produced a prolonged (2-4 h) suppression of ghrelin (P=0.001) and elevation of GLP-1 (P=0.002) and cholecystokinin (P=0.003) that were reduced when combined with fructose, while glucose and insulin responses were similar. Energy intake after 4 h was independent of beverage type (glucose 4.7+/-0.2 MJ; fructose 4.9+/-0.3 MJ; whey 4.6+/-0.3 MJ; whey/fructose 4.8+/-0.3 MJ; P>0.05). CONCLUSION: In obese men, fructose- and glucose-based beverages had similar effects on appetite and associated regulatory hormones, independent of the differing glycaemic and insulinaemic responses. The contrasting profile of plasma ghrelin, GLP-1 and cholecystokinin after whey protein consumption did not impact on ad libitum intake 4 h later and was attenuated when 50% of whey was replaced with fructose.
Diabetes Metab Res Rev. 2007 Jul;23(5):378-85.
Slow versus fast proteins in the stimulation of beta-cell response and the activation of the entero-insular axis in type 2 diabetes.
Tessari P, Kiwanuka E, Cristini M, Zaramella M, Enslen M, Zurlo C, Garcia-Rodenas C.
Department of Clinical & Experimental Medicine, University of Padova, Italy. email@example.com
BACKGROUND: We tested whether ingestion of whey protein can induce greater post-prandial amino acid (AA) levels in the plasma and a higher beta-cell response than casein ingestion in type 2 diabetes mellitus patients. METHODS: The study was designed as a double-blind, randomized, and controlled cross-over clinical trial. Twelve post-absorptive type 2 diabetic subjects who were withdrawn from their usual hypoglycemic therapy were studied. A medium calorie (approximately 6 kcal/kg BW), high protein (approximately 50% of total kcal) mixed meal, containing whey protein, casein, or a free amino acid (FREE AA) mixture matching the casein AA composition, was randomly administered on three different occasions. RESULTS: Following ingestion of whey protein, plasma concentrations of total, branched chain, and essential AA were 25-50% greater than after ingestion of casein (p < 0.0001), and were similar to those observed after the FREE AA meal. With whey protein, C-peptide, insulin, and pro-insulin concentrations were greater by 12-40% (p < 0.02 or less) than with casein, and similar to those with FREE AA. Glucagon-like polypeptide 1 (GLP-1) response tended to be lower with casein than with whey protein. Glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide (GIP) response was greater with either whey protein or casein than with FREE AA. Post-prandial glucose concentrations were similar after whey protein and casein ingestion, but lower after the FREE AA meal. CONCLUSIONS: In type 2 diabetes, the ingestion of a fast-absorbable protein results in a greater post-prandial aminoacidemia and a higher beta-cell secretion than the ingestion of a ‘slow’ protein. Whether these changes can be maintained chronically in combination with hypoglycemic therapy, possibly also resulting in better glycemic control, remains to be established.