In this controlled, parallel-group feeding trial, we examined the impact of carbohydrate (CHO) intake and glycemic index (GI) on glucose and lipid metabolism during refeeding after weight loss. Healthy men (n = 32 total, age: 25.5 ± 3.9 y, BMI: 23.5 ± 2.0 kg/m2) overconsumed diets containing either 50% or 65% CHO for 1 wk (+50% of energy requirements) and then underwent 3 wk of calorie restriction (CR; -50%) followed by 2 wk of overconsuming (refeeding, +50%) the same diet but with either a low or high GI (40 vs.70 during CR, 41 vs.74 during refeeding) so that glycemic load (GL; dietary CHO content x GI) differed between groups during all phases. Glucose profiles were assessed by continuous interstitial glucose monitoring, insulin sensitivity (IS) by fasting blood sampling, oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp, and liver fat by MRI. Daytime area under the curve-glucose during refeeding was higher with high compared with low GI (P = 0.01) and 65% compared with 50% CHO intake (P = 0.05) and correlated with dietary GL (r = 0.71; P < 0.001). IS increased with CR and decreased again with refeeding in all groups. The decrease in OGTT-derived IS was greater with high- than with low-GI diets (-41 vs. -15%; P-interaction = 0.01) and correlated with dietary GL during refeeding (r = -0.51; P < 0.01). Serum triglycerides (TGs) and liver fat also improved with CR (-17 ± 38 mg/dL and -1.1 ± 1.3%; P < 0.05 and <0.001) and increased again with refeeding (+48 ± 48 mg/dL and +2.2 ± 1.6%; P < 0.001). After refeeding, serum TGs and liver fat were elevated above baseline values with 65% CHO intake only (+59.9 ± 37.5 mg/dL and +1.1 ± 1.7%, P-interaction <0.001 and <0.05). In conclusion, a diet low in GI and moderate in CHO content (i.e., low GL) may have health benefits by positively affecting daylong glycemia, IS, and liver fat.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01737034.