Impact of fat, protein, and glycemic index on postprandial glucose control in type 1 diabetes: implications for intensive diabetes management in the continuous glucose monitoring era

Diabetes Care. 2015 Jun;38(6):1008-15. doi: 10.2337/dc15-0100.


Background: Continuous glucose monitoring highlights the complexity of postprandial glucose patterns present in type 1 diabetes and points to the limitations of current approaches to mealtime insulin dosing based primarily on carbohydrate counting.

Methods: A systematic review of all relevant biomedical databases, including MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, was conducted to identify research on the effects of dietary fat, protein, and glycemic index (GI) on acute postprandial glucose control in type 1 diabetes and prandial insulin dosing strategies for these dietary factors.

Results: All studies examining the effect of fat (n = 7), protein (n = 7), and GI (n = 7) indicated that these dietary factors modify postprandial glycemia. Late postprandial hyperglycemia was the predominant effect of dietary fat; however, in some studies, glucose concentrations were reduced in the first 2-3 h, possibly due to delayed gastric emptying. Ten studies examining insulin bolus dose and delivery patterns required for high-fat and/or high-protein meals were identified. Because of methodological differences and limitations in experimental design, study findings were inconsistent regarding optimal bolus delivery pattern; however, the studies indicated that high-fat/protein meals require more insulin than lower-fat/protein meals with identical carbohydrate content.

Conclusions: These studies have important implications for clinical practice and patient education and point to the need for research focused on the development of new insulin dosing algorithms based on meal composition rather than on carbohydrate content alone.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / prevention & control*
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Glycemic Index / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / prevention & control
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Insulin Infusion Systems
  • Meals
  • Postprandial Period / physiology


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin