Insulin Response in Low Carbohydrate Diets

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Insulin Response in Low Carbohydrate Diets With the current popularity of the Atkins diet and similar plans that emphasize a reduced intake of carbohydrates, it is important to understand both the theory underlying these diets and the effects of low carbohydrate consumption on one's health. In particular, it is crucial that anyone considering such a program understand the effects of low carbohydrate diets on the body's insulin response, as well as consequences of low and high insulin levels in the blood. Therefore, the research on the insulin response to reduced carbohydrate energy bars contained in the article "Glycemic and insulinemic responses to energy bars of differing macronutrient composition in healthy adults" by Steven R. Hertzler and Yeonsoo Kim should be considered. The basic concept of the Atkins diet is that certain high carbohydrate foods, such as bread and foods high in sugar, should be reduced or eliminated from the diet, or at least replaced by foods lower in carbohydrates. An example of an acceptable low carbohydrate food is the Atkins Advantage Bar, a low-carbohydrate energy bar that is primarily protein and fat and which represents the low carbohydrate food studied by Hertzler and Kim. The scientific theory behind Atkins' proposed shift from carbohydrate and toward protein and fat is that carbohydrates theoretically elicit an increased insulin response. In this context, "increased insulin response" means that the pancreas releases high amounts of insulin into the bloodstream during the digestion of carbohydrates. The Atkins theory also holds that there is a link between high insulin levels in the blood and undesired metabolic effects. Such effe... ... middle of paper ... ...response may suggest that these diets do not achieve this objective. A probable explanation for the increased insulin response of the low and moderate carbohydrate bars is that protein and/or fat are substituted for the removed carbohydrate, and both protein and fat can trigger an increased insulin response. However, it is more likely that the protein triggered the insulin response since several studies have demonstrated that dietary protein and certain amino acids, the building blocks of protein, are insulinogenic, or insulin inducing. Thus, participants in a low carbohydrate program may continue to experience the adverse metabolic conditions of inhibited fat breakdown and increased blood cholesterol. Additionally, these data suggest that such diets might not contribute to weight loss or to bettering one's overall health.

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