Metabolic effects of amino acid mixtures and whey protein in healthy subjects: studies using glucose-equivalent drinks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Milk protein, in particular the whey fraction, has been shown to display insulinotrophic properties in healthy persons and persons with type 2 diabetes. In parallel to the hyperinsulinemia, a pronounced postprandial rise of certain amino acids and of glucose-dependent insulinotrophic polypeptide (GIP) was observed in plasma. Objective: The objective of the study was to determine to what extent the insulinotrophic properties of whey could be simulated by specific amino acid mixtures. Design: Twelve healthy volunteers were served drinks consisting of pure glucose (reference drink) or glucose supplemented with free amino acids or whey proteins (test drinks). Results: A test drink with the branched-chain amino acids isoleucine, leucine, and valine resulted in significantly higher insulin responses than did the glucose reference. A drink containing glucose and leucine, isoleucine, valine, lysine, and threonine mimicked the glycemic and insulinemic responses seen after whey ingestion. With consumption of this drink, the glucose area under the curve (AUC) was 44% smaller (P < 0.05) and the insulin AUC was 31% larger (NS) than with consumption of the reference drink. With consumption of the whey drink, the AUCs were 56% smaller (glucose; P < 0.05) and 60% larger (insulin; P < 0.05), respectively, than with the reference drink. The whey drink was accompanied by an 80% greater GIP response (P < 0.05), whereas the drinks containing free amino acids did not significantly affect GIP secretion. Conclusion: A mixture of leucine, isoleucine, valine, lysine, and threonine resulted in glycemic and insulinemic responses closely mimicking those seen after whey ingestion in the absence of an additional effect of GIP and glucagon-like peptide 1.


  • Mikael Nilsson
  • Jens J. Holst
  • Inger Björck
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Nutrition and Dietetics


  • hyperinsulinemia, amino, serum insulin, blood glucose, milk, acids, whey, incretin hormones
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)996-1004
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Applied Nutrition and Food Chemistry (011001300)