Objective: To determine whether sedentary obese women with elevated levels of homeostatic model assessment (HOMA) insulin resistance (ie, > 3.5) experience greater benefits from an exercise + higher-carbohydrate (HC) or carbohydrate-restricted weight loss program than women with lower HOMA levels.
Methods: 221 women (age, 46.5 ± 12 years; body weight, 90.3 ± 16 kg; body mass index, 33.8 ± 5 kg/m(2)) participated in a 10-week supervised exercise and weight loss program. The fitness program involved 30 minutes of circuit-style resistance training 3 days per week. Subjects were prescribed low-fat (30%) isoenergetic diets that consisted of 1200 kcals per day for 1 week (phase 1) and 1600 kcals per day for 9 weeks (phase 2) with HC or higher protein (HP). Fasting blood samples, body composition, anthropometry, resting energy expenditure, and fitness measurements were obtained at 0 and 10 weeks. Subjects were retrospectively stratified into lower (LH) or higher (HH) than 3.5 HOMA groups. Data were analyzed by multivariate analysis of variance with repeated measures and are presented as mean ± standard deviation changes from baseline.
Results: Baseline HOMA levels in the LH group were significantly lower than those in the HH group (LH, 0.6 ± 0.7; HH, 6.3 ± 3.4; P = 0.001). Diet and training significantly decreased body weight (-3.5 ± 3 kg), fat mass (-2.7 ± 3 kg), blood glucose (-3%), total cholesterol (-4.5%), low-density lipoproteins (-5%), triglycerides (-5.9%), systolic blood pressure (-2.6%), and waist circumference (-3.7%), while increasing peak aerobic capacity (7.3%). Subjects in the HP group experienced greater weight loss (-4.4 ± 3.6 kg vs -2.6 ± 2.9 kg), fat loss (-3.4 ± 2.7 kg vs -1.7 ± 2.0 kg), reductions in serum glucose (3% vs 2%), and decreases in serum leptin levels (-30.8% vs -10.8%) than those in the HC group. Participants in the HH (-14.1%) and HP-HH (-21.6%) groups observed the greatest reduction in serum blood glucose.
Conclusion: A carbohydrate-restricted diet promoted more favorable changes in weight loss, fat loss, and markers of health in obese women who initiated an exercise program compared with a diet higher in carbohydrate. Additionally, obese women who initiated training and dieting with higher HOMA levels experienced greater reductions in blood glucose following an HP diet.