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Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Jul;94(1):120-7. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.002162. Epub 2011 May 18.

Dietary macronutrient composition affects β cell responsiveness but not insulin sensitivity.

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Department of Nutrition Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294-3360, USA.



Altering dietary carbohydrate or fat content may have chronic effects on insulin secretion and sensitivity, which may vary with individual metabolic phenotype.


The objective was to evaluate the contribution of tightly controlled diets differing in carbohydrate and fat content for 8 wk to insulin sensitivity and β cell responsiveness and whether effects of diet would vary with race, free-living diet, or insulin response.


Healthy overweight men and women (36 European Americans, 33 African Americans) were provided with food for 8 wk and received either a eucaloric standard diet (55% carbohydrate, 27% fat) or a eucaloric reduced-carbohydrate (RedCHO)/higher-fat diet (43% carbohydrate, 39% fat). Insulin sensitivity and β cell responsiveness were assessed at baseline and 8 wk by using a liquid meal tolerance test.


Insulin sensitivity did not change with diet (P = 0.1601). Static β cell response to glucose (ФS) was 28.5% lower after the RedCHO/higher-fat diet. Subgroup analyses indicated that lower ФS with the RedCHO/higher-fat diet occurred primarily among African Americans. A significant inverse association was observed for change in glucose area under the curve compared with change in ФS.


Consumption of a eucaloric 43% carbohydrate/39% fat diet for 8 wk resulted in down-regulation of β cell responsiveness, which was influenced by baseline phenotypic characteristics. Further study is needed to probe the potential cause-and-effect relation between change in ФS and change in glucose tolerance. This trial is registered at as NCT00726908.

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