Acute effect of red meat and dairy on glucose and insulin: a randomized crossover study

Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Jan;103(1):71-6. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.123505. Epub 2015 Dec 16.


Background: In contrast with some epidemiologic evidence, our previous research showed that a 4-wk diet that was high in low-fat dairy reduced insulin sensitivity compared with the effect of a diet that was high in red meat.

Objective: We investigated whether a dairy meal would produce a greater insulin response than a carbohydrate-matched red meat meal would, which might account for the change in insulin sensitivity.

Design: One meal contained lean red meat, bread, and orange juice, and the other meal contained skim milk, low-fat yogurt, cheese, and bread. Meals were isoenergetic, equal in macronutrient profile, and consumed 1 wk apart. Glucose, insulin, and triglycerides were measured before and 30, 60, 90, 120, 150, and 180 min after meal consumption. Differences between meals were tested with the use of a repeated-measures ANOVA and paired sample t tests.

Results: Nineteen men and 24 women [mean ± SD age: 50.8 ± 16.0 y; body mass index (in kg/m(2)): 30.0 ± 3.5] completed the study. Twenty-two participants had normal glucose tolerance, and 21 participants had impaired fasting glucose or impaired glucose tolerance. The red meat meal resulted in a higher glucose response at 30 min after consumption (P < 0.001); however, the glucose total AUC was not different between meals (P = NS). The mean ± SEM incremental AUC (iAUC) for glucose was significantly higher after the dairy meal than after the red meat meal (2.23 ± 0.49 compared with 0.88 ± 0.57 mmol/L · 3 h, respectively; P = 0.004). The insulin total AUC and iAUC were not different between meals (iAUC: 159.65 ± 20.0 mU/L · 3 h for red meat compared with 167.49 ± 24.1 mU/L · 3 h for dairy; P = NS).

Conclusions: Lean red meat and low-fat dairy produced a similar glycemic response. The higher glucose response 30 min after consumption of the red meat meal was likely attributable to differences in the glycemic load between orange juice and milk and yogurt. An insulinotropic effect of dairy was not observed. This trial was registered at as ACTRN12615000164594.

Keywords: dairy; dietary proteins; glucose metabolism; insulin sensitivity; red meat.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Area Under Curve
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dairy Products*
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / pharmacology
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Energy Intake
  • Female
  • Glucose Intolerance / blood
  • Glycemic Index*
  • Glycemic Load
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Male
  • Meals
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood
  • Red Meat*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Insulin

Associated data

  • ANZCTR/ACTRN12615000164594