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Diabetologia. 2013 May;56(5):1108-17. doi: 10.1007/s00125-013-2852-x. Epub 2013 Feb 23.

Absorption patterns of meals containing complex carbohydrates in type 1 diabetes.

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University of Cambridge Metabolic Research Laboratories and NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre, Institute of Metabolic Science, Box 289, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 0QQ, UK.



Successful postprandial glycaemia management requires understanding of absorption patterns after meals containing variable complex carbohydrates. We studied eight young participants with type 1 diabetes to investigate a large low-glycaemic-load (LG) meal and another eight participants to investigate a high-glycaemic-load (HG) meal matched for carbohydrates (121 g).


On Visit 1, participants consumed an evening meal. On follow-up Visit 2, a variable-target glucose clamp was performed to reproduce glucose and insulin levels from Visit 1. Adopting stable-label tracer dilution methodology, we measured endogenous glucose production on Visit 2 and subtracted it from total glucose appearance measured on Visit 1 to obtain meal-attributable glucose appearance.


After the LG meal, 25%, 50% and 75% of cumulative glucose appearance was at 88 ± 21, 175 ± 39 and 270 ± 54 min (mean ± SD), whereas glucose from the HG meal appeared significantly faster at 56 ± 12, 100 ± 25 and 153 ± 39 min (p < 0.001 to 0.003), and resulted in a 50% higher peak appearance (p < 0.001). Higher apparent bioavailability by 15% (p = 0.037) was observed after the LG meal. We documented a 20 min deceleration of dietary mixed carbohydrates compared with dietary glucose for the HG meal and a twofold deceleration for the LG meal.


Absorption patterns may be influenced by glycaemic load and/or meal composition, affecting optimum prandial insulin dosing in type 1 diabetes.

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