Previous studies indicate that diets rich in digestible carbohydrates improve glucose tolerance in nondiabetic individuals, but may worsen glycemic control in NIDDM patients with moderately severe hyperglycemia. The effects of such high-carbohydrate diets on glucose metabolism in patients with mild NIDDM have not been studied adequately. This study compares responses to an isocaloric high-carbohydrate diet (60% of total energy from carbohydrates) and a low-carbohydrate diet (35% of total energy from carbohydrates) in 8 men with mild NIDDM. Both diets were low in saturated fatty acids, whereas the low-carbohydrate diet was rich in monounsaturated fatty acids. The two diets were matched for dietary fiber content (25 g/day). All patients were randomly assigned to receive first one and then the other diet, each for a period of 21 days, in a metabolic ward. Compared with the low-carbohydrate diet, the high-carbohydrate diet caused a 27.5% increase in plasma triglycerides and a similar increase in VLDL-cholesterol levels; it also reduced levels of HDL cholesterol by 11%. Plasma glucose and insulin responses to identical standard breakfast meals were studied on days 4 and 21 of each period, and these did not differ significantly between the two diets. At the end of each period, a euglycemic hyperinsulinemic glucose clamp study with simultaneous infusion of [3-3H]glucose revealed no significant changes in hepatic insulin sensitivity; and peripheral insulin-mediated glucose disposal remained unchanged (14.7 ± 1.4 vs. 16.5 ± 2.3 μM · kg−1 · min−1 on the high-carbohydrate and low-carbohydrate diets, respectively). We conclude that in patients with mild NIDDM, high-carbohydrate diets do not improve glycemic control nor insulin sensitivity, and they raise plasma triglyceride and VLDL-cholesterol concentrations and reduce HDL-cholesterol levels, which may not be desirable.

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