Berries and other anthocyanin-rich treatments have prevented weight gain and adiposity in rodent models of diet-induced obesity. Their efficacy may be explained by modulation of energy substrate utilization. However, this effect has never been translated to humans. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of berry intake on energy substrate use and glucoregulation in volunteers consuming a high-fat diet. Twenty-seven overweight or obese men were enrolled in a randomized, placebo-controlled crossover study with two treatment periods. Subjects were fed an investigator controlled, high-fat (40% of energy from fat) diet which contained either 600 g/day blackberries (BB, 1500 mg/day flavonoids) or a calorie and carbohydrate matched amount of gelatin (GEL, flavonoid-free control) for seven days prior to a meal-based glucose tolerance test (MTT) in combination with a 24 h stay in a room-sized indirect calorimeter. The washout period that separated the treatment periods was also seven days. The BB treatment resulted in a significant reduction in average 24 h respiratory quotient (RQ) (0.810 vs. 0.817, BB vs. GEL, p = 0.040), indicating increased fat oxidation. RQ during the MTT was significantly lower with the BB treatment (0.84) compared to GEL control (0.85), p = 0.004. A 4 h time isolation during dinner showed similar treatment effects, where RQ was reduced and fat oxidation increased with BB (0.818 vs. 0.836, 28 vs. 25 g, respectively; BB vs. GEL treatments). The glucose AUC was not different between the BB and GEL treatments during the MTT (3488 vs. 4070 mg·min/dL, respectively, p = 0.12). However, the insulin AUC was significantly lower with the BB compared to the GEL control (6485 vs. 8245 µU·min/mL, p = 0.0002), and HOMA-IR improved with BB (p = 0.0318). Blackberry consumption may promote increased fat oxidation and improved insulin sensitivity in overweight or obese males fed a high fat diet.
Keywords: anthocyanins; berries; fat oxidation; flavonoids; glucose; indirect calorimetry; insulin sensitivity; obesity; overweight; polyphenols.