To determine the effects of different hypocaloric diets on insulin secretion, 24-h urine C-peptide was measured in 11 obese subjects on a weight-maintaining baseline diet, and the results were compared with values obtained during 14-day periods of diets containing 400 kcal/day of only protein (n = 6) or glucose (n = 5), followed by 14 days of fasting and 14 days of refeeding on 800-1000 kcal/day. A significant positive correlation between total caloric intake and urine C-peptide excretion was found once the C-peptide excretion reached steady state after several days on each diet. Multiple regression analysis showed no contribution of body weight to urine C-peptide during the different diets. In contrast, a significant correlation was found between body weight and urine C-peptide in the fasting state. A marked and identical decrease of ∼75% in urine C-peptide occurred over the first 5-7 days of the two 400-kcal diets, followed by a further decrease during fasting to 5% of baseline values. Refeeding was associated with a progressive increase. Plasma insulin and C-peptide followed the same trends as found for urine C-peptide, although the magnitude of change was much smaller. C-peptide clearance was not assessed because of the variation in plasma levels on eating meals. However, the same responses were found when C-peptide excretion was factored for creatinine excretion. Thus, the major determinant of urine C-peptide excretion appears to be food intake, and adaptations take 5-7 days to reach steady state. This probably accounts for the significant correlation between body mass and urine C-peptide seen only afterfasting, when the effect of ingested secretagogues is removed. Glucose andprotein appear to be equipotent insulin secretagogues in the hypocaloric diets studied.

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