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Three Diets and Their Effects on Postprandial Glucose Levels

Which of these three popular diets may be more beneficial for patients with type 2 diabetes?… 

In a one day supervised study, three diets, a low-fat diet, a low-carbohydrate diet, and a Mediterranean style diet, were compared. The participants in the low-fat or low-carbohydrate groups were given three meals daily with the proper calories for them, with the only difference being the reduction of fat or carbohydrates. For the Mediterranean diet, participants were given black coffee in the mornings followed by a large meal around lunch time which had the caloric equivalent of the other diet’s lunch and dinner combined. The participants in the Mediterranean diet group were also given some red wine with their main meal.

When comparing the differences between the low-fat and low-carbohydrate diets, this study found that the low carbohydrate diet resulted in significantly lower postprandial spikes of insulin and glucose (p<0.0005). The Mediterranean style diet was found to have the largest insulin response of all three diets, while only increasing the postprandial glucose as much as the low-fat diet lunch despite consuming nearly double the calories (insulin increase ratio p<0.001).

This study suggests that a Mediterranean style diet, with a large single meal mid-day, may be an advantage to patients with type 2 diabetes due to the large insulin to glucose ratio it produces.

Practice Pearls:
  • The Mediterranean diet was found to have the highest postprandial insulin response when compared to a low-fat or low-carbohydrate diet.
  • The postprandial glucose increase from the Mediterranean diet was found to be similar to the low-fat diet, despite having nearly twice the calories.
  • This larger insulin to glucose ratio produced by the Mediterranean diet could potentially be beneficial for patients with type 2 diabetes.

Plos One, November 2013