question and answer
High-protein diets and insulin sensitivity
January 2004
ALAN RUSSELL, MD, of Brampton, ON, reports, "A number of patients have asked about how well a high-protein diet works." He'd like to know: "Does it boost metabolism and stabilize insulin levels?"
Weight loss in general leads to higher insulin sensitivity. People on low-carbohydrate diets (higher fat and protein), however, tend to lose more weight than those on low-fat diets (higher carbohydrate) in the first few months. The low-carbohydrate dieters actually eat fewer calories, but we're not sure why -- there's probably a biochemical effect that suppresses appetite. A recently published study by Foster et al (NEJM 2003;348: 2082-90) showed that, at one year, there wasn't any significant difference in weight loss between subjects on low-carbohydrate and low-fat diets. Both groups had similar increased insulin sensitivity with weight loss. Declining adherence is the likely reason for the comparable outcomes for both diets by one year -- and shows the difficulty of managing obesity. HL
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