DEC 15, 2021 9:30 AM PST

High Protein Diet Improves Insulin Resistance Better Than Mediterranean Diet: Study

WRITTEN BY: Ryan Vingum

Obesity has become a global health crisis. Since 2000, an estimated 300 million people around the globe classified would be classified as “obese,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO), with many more prediabetic. Obesity rates have steadily risen, as well, since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, largely fueled by stress. Obesity can lead to a number of health problems, particularly heart disease and diabetes.

Lifestyle changes are often at the forefront of therapeutic interventions, with diet and exercise being the most common interventions. Diet, especially, has been shown to have a significant impact on obesity rates.

According to the study published in Nutrients, researchers compared a high protein diet to a Mediterranean diet, both of which have been shown to be beneficial for weight loss, to see how it affected overall participant health. A high protein diet consists of low carbohydrates and high amounts of fat and protein. The Mediterranean diet usually consists of foods high in polyphenols (a type of flavonoid), monounsaturated fats, and low sugars.

Researchers found that these diets had different effects on participants beyond just weight loss, particularly when different metabolic parameters, such as insulin resistance, are brought into question. 

During the study, which was a randomized crossover trial with about 20 obese women with insulin resistance, researchers assigned participants to receive either the high protein or Mediterranean diet for about 10 days. They then switched to the other diet. Blood and fecal samples were collected at baseline and throughout the study to measure changes in participants’ health, as well as continuous monitoring of glucose.

Researchers found that a high protein diet was more effective at improving insulin resistance in participants, though they also noted that there were “microbial genera underlying the difference in glycemic variability between the two diets. These include microbes previously associated with the regulation of glucose homeostasis and insulin resistance,” confirming prior research showing a connection between insulin resistance and the gut microbioata.

Sources: Nutrients; NPR; Nature Medicine

About the Author
Master's (MA/MS/Other)
Science writer and editor, with a focus on simplifying complex information about health, medicine, technology, and clinical drug development for a general audience.
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