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Nutr Metab (Lond). 2004 Sep 13;1:6. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-1-6. eCollection 2004.

Metabolic response of people with type 2 diabetes to a high protein diet.

Nuttall FQ#1,2, Gannon MC#1,2,3.

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Metabolic Research Laboratory, Endocrine, Metabolism & Nutrition Section, Minneapolis VA Medical Center, Minneapolis, USA.
Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota, USA.
Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota, USA.
Contributed equally



One of the major interests in our laboratory has been to develop a scientific framework for dietary advice for patients with diabetes. Knowledge regarding the metabolic consequences and potential effects on health of protein in people with type 2 diabetes has been a particular interest.


We recently have completed a study in which dietary protein was increased from 15% to 30% of total food energy. The carbohydrate content was decreased from 55% to 40%, i.e. dietary protein replaced part of the carbohydrate. This resulted in a significant decrease in total glycohemoglobin, a decrease in postprandial glucose concentrations and a modest increase in insulin concentration. Renal function was unchanged. Currently we also are determining the metabolic response to a diet in which the carbohydrate content is further decreased to 20% of total food energy. The %tGHb decrease was even more dramatic than with the 40% carbohydrate diet.


From these data we conclude that increasing the protein content of the diet at the expense of carbohydrate can reduce the 24-hour integrated plasma glucose concentration, at least over a 5-week period of time. The reduction was similar to that of oral agents. Renal function was not affected significantly. Thus, increasing the protein content of the diet with a corresponding decrease in the carbohydrate content potentially is a patient empowering way of reducing the hyperglycemia present with type 2 diabetes mellitus, independent of the use of pharmaceutical agents.

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