For the Overweight, Some Carbs Better than Others

A diet with a low-glycemic load may have benefits for overweight and obese individuals who are otherwise healthy, a randomized, crossover study showed.

Foods with low glycemic loads include various fruits and vegetables, cheese, milk, and yogurt.

Participants' weight remained steady throughout the study.

"Although weight loss and maintenance of energy balance should remain one of the critical components of any lifestyle intervention for the overweight and obese, the results from this study suggest that diet composition, particularly carbohydrate quality, plays a key role," Neuhouser and colleagues wrote.

"Adhering to a low-glycemic load diet may help individuals at risk of obesity-related metabolic dysfunction improve their overall health."

High-glycemic load diets lead to rapid increases in blood glucose and insulin concentrations, whereas low-glycemic load diets result in less dramatic responses.

Low-glycemic load diets have been shown to improve insulin resistance and glucose homeostasis in patients with diabetes, but it had been unknown whether such diets could improve the health of people without diabetes or other conditions.

So Neuhouser and colleagues conducted the Carbohydrates and Related Biomarkers Study, a randomized, crossover study comparing the effects of low- and high-glycemic load diets on biomarkers of inflammation and adiposity in healthy adults.

The study included 80 participants, half who had a normal weight (BMI 18.5 to 24.9 kg/m2) and half who were overweight or obese.

The diets during the two periods differed by glycemic load (250 or 125) and by fiber content (28 and 55 grams/day for the high-glycemic and low-glycemic load diets, respectively).

The researchers measured body composition using DEXA scanning and serum levels of various biomarkers of inflammation and obesity, including high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), amyloid A, interleukin-6, leptin, and adiponectin.

The analysis stratified by baseline body fat mass, however, yielded some differences.

Both differences are substantial, according to the researchers.

"Our observation that the low-glycemic load diet reduced inflammation biomarkers only in the overweight and obese, but not normal weight participants, suggests that those who may already be slightly insulin resistant or at risk for insulin resistance may benefit the most from a low-glycemic load dietary pattern."

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