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Calorie-Restricted Diet Improves Insulin Sensitivity

Last Updated: May 11, 2009.

Calorie-restricted diets initially alter the insulin sensitivity of the liver and only later change the insulin sensitivity of muscles as the body adapts to the reduced caloric intake, according to a study published in the May issue of Gastroenterology.

MONDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- Calorie-restricted (CR) diets initially alter the insulin sensitivity of the liver and only later change the insulin sensitivity of muscles as the body adapts to the reduced caloric intake, according to a study published in the May issue of Gastroenterology.

Erik Kirk, Ph.D., of Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, Mo., and colleagues put 22 obese subjects (body mass index, 36.5 ±0.8 kg/m2) on either a CR low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet (>180 g/day carbohydrates) or a CR low-carbohydrate diet (<50 g/day). The researchers measured insulin action, insulin signaling, and intrahepatic triglyceride (IHTG) content before the diet, 48 hours into the diet, and after about 11 weeks, by which time there was a 7 percent weight loss.

The researchers found that the IHTG content decreased more in the low-carbohydrate group than the high-carbohydrate group at the 48-hour mark (29.6 versus 8.9 percent), but was comparable in both groups at 11 weeks (38.0 versus 44.5 percent). Glucose production rate decreased more in the low-carbohydrate group than the high-carbohydrate group at 48 hours (23.4 versus 7.2 percent) and at 11 weeks (20.0 versus 7.9 percent). Insulin-mediated glucose uptake was unchanged at 48 hours, but had increased similarly at 11 weeks (48.4 percent), the authors note.

"Our data show that short-term CR caused a rapid decrease in IHTG content, increase in hepatic insulin sensitivity, and decrease in endogenous glucose production rate, whereas longer-term CR and moderate 7 percent weight loss improved skeletal muscle insulin sensitivity, in conjunction with an increase in cellular insulin signaling," the authors write.

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