12 January - 20 June 2016

Three low carbohydrate meals in 24 hours found to reduce post meal insulin resistance

According to scientists from the University of Michigan, consuming three low carbohydrate meals within 24 hours lowers post-meal insulin by over 30% but high carbohydrate meals sustain insulin resistance. Insulin resistance means that insulin is less effective in removing glucose from the bloodstream, and the pancreas must produce more insulin to help, which can eventually lead to diabetes and high blood pressure.

According to scientists from the University of Michigan, consuming three low carbohydrate meals within 24 hours lowers post-meal insulin by over 30% but high carbohydrate meals sustain insulin resistance.  Insulin resistance means that insulin is less effective in removing glucose from the bloodstream, and the pancreas must produce more insulin to help, which can eventually lead to diabetes and high blood pressure.  

The study published in PLOS ONE recruited 32 post-menopausal, metabolically healthy women and split them into four groups.  The groups were given a pre-trial evening meal, two isocaloric meals of either 30% or 60% carbohydrates with or without two hours of moderate-intensity exercise before meals. The meals were provided at 10:00 and 17:00. The low carbohydrate (LC) breakfast and evening meal had a glycemic index of 53 and 51 respectively.  Sugar content of dietary carbohydrates in the three LC meals was about 28g or 54% per meal and the type of fat between 10g and 14g, each, of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.  The high carbohydrate breakfast and evening meal had a glycemic index of 58 and 68 respectively.  The sugar content of dietary carbohydrates in the three HC meals was about 49g or 43% per meal and the type of fat between 6g and 7g, each, of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.  Blood samples were collected over 24 hours on the study day with additional samples being taken at 15 and 30 minute intervals during meals and exercise. 

Borer et al. report that they found a one-day reduction in insulin resistance after the third low-carbohydrate meal eaten in the evening.  Whilst the scientists state that their study was only small, the results are consistent with two other studies which fed volunteers for 5 and for 14 days.   They state that “what is remarkable about our findings is that they show that a simple dietary modification of reducing the carbohydrate content of the meals, can, within a day protect against development of insulin resistance and block the path towards development of prediabetes whilst sustaining intake of high carbohydrate diets leads to increased fasting insulin secretion and resistance.”  The two hours of moderate-intensity exercise, which the researchers thought would lower insulin resistance and blood sugar had no impact on the results.  The team found that exercise before the meals made the subjects more carbohydrate intolerant, increasing blood sugar levels.  The scientists report that for both diets they observed high concentration of free fatty acids in the blood during both morning and afternoon after the pre-meal exercise, stating that this may have contributed to the increase in postprandial glycemia as muscle uptake of free fatty acids interferes with insulin signalling. 

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