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Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2006 Dec;291(6):R1622-9. Epub 2006 Aug 10.

Low-carbohydrate diets affect energy balance and fuel homeostasis differentially in lean and obese rats.

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  • 1Department of Neuroendocrinology, Center for Behavior and Neurosciences, University of Groningen, 9750 AA Haren, The Netherlands.


In parallel with increased prevalence of overweight people in affluent societies are individuals trying to lose weight, often using low-carbohydrate diets. Nevertheless, long-term metabolic consequences of those diets, usually high in (saturated) fat, remain unclear. Therefore, we investigated long-term effects of high-fat diets with different carbohydrate/protein ratios on energy balance and fuel homeostasis in obese (fa/fa) Zucker and lean Wistar rats. Animals were fed high-carbohydrate (HC), high-fat (HsF), or low-carbohydrate, high-fat, high-protein (LC-HsF-HP) diets for 60 days. Both lines fed the LC-HsF-HP diet displayed reduced energy intake compared with those fed the HsF diet (Zucker, -3.7%) or the HC diet (Wistar rats, -12.4%). This was not associated with lower weight gain relative to HC fed rats, because of increased food efficiencies in each line fed HsF and particularly LC-HsF-HP food. Zucker rats were less glucose tolerant than Wistar rats. Lowest glucose tolerances were found in HsF and particularly in LC-HsF-HP-fed animals irrespective of line, but this paralleled reduced plasma adiponectin levels, elevated plasma resistin levels, higher retroperitoneal fat masses, and reduced insulin sensitivity (indexed by insulin-induced hypoglycemia) only in Wistar rats. In Zucker rats, however, improved insulin responses during glucose tolerance testing and tendency toward increased insulin sensitivities were observed with HsF or LC-HsF-HP feeding relative to HC feeding. Thus, despite adverse consequences of LC-HsF diets on blood glucose homeostasis, principal differences exist in the underlying hormonal regulatory mechanisms, which could have benefits for B-cell functioning and insulin action in the obese state but not in the lean state.

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