Carbohydrate-restricted Diet and High-intensity Interval Training Exercise Improve Cardio-metabolic and Inflammatory Profiles in Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized Crossover Trial

Cureus. 2019 Sep 8;11(9):e5596. doi: 10.7759/cureus.5596.


Introduction One approach to slow the pandemic of obesity and chronic disease is to look to our evolutionary past for clues of the changing behaviors contributing to the emergence of 'diseases of civilization'. Modern humans have deviated from the lifestyle behaviors of our ancestors that have introduced pressures (i.e. diet and activity changes) quicker than our genetic ability to respond. This caused a 'mismatch' between our biological systems and environment, leading to 'man-made' chronic diseases. Purpose The purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of a short-term evolutionarily informed dietary and lifestyle intervention on inflammatory and cardio-metabolic profiles in individuals characterized as having metabolic syndrome (MetS). Methods Twelve subjects with MetS followed a crossover design with two, four-week interventions, including a carbohydrate (CHO)-restricted Paleolithic-based diet (CRPD; <50g CHO) with sedentary activity (CRPD-Sed) and CRPD with high-intensity interval training (CRPD-Ex), separated by a four-week washout period. The HIIT exercise consisted of 10 X 60 seconds (s) cycling intervals interspersed with 60s of active recovery three d/wk for four weeks. The effects of a diet with sedentary activity as compared to a diet with exercise on body composition, as well as the cardiovascular, inflammatory, and metabolic profiles, were assessed. A two-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) with repeated measures was performed with a post-hoc analysis using a simple effects analysis with a Bonferroni adjustment. The level of statistical significance was established a priori as p < 0.05. Results Compared to baselines, CRPD-Sed and CRPD-Ex improved cardio-metabolic markers, including reductions in waist adiposity (-15%, -18%), body mass (-3%, -5%), body fat % (BF%; -7%, -12%), fasting plasma glucose (GLU; -20%, -27%), triglycerides (TG; -47%, -52%), fasting insulin (-34%, -39%), insulin resistance (-35%, -46%), and increased HDL-C (+22%, +36%) and VO2max (+22% and +29%), respectively. CRPD-Sed and CRPD-Ex also reduced inflammatory markers, including hsCRP (-32% and-36%), TNF-alpha (-35% and -41%), IL-6 (-29% and -40%), and ICAM-1 (-19%, -23%), respectively, when compared to baseline. Conclusion Adopting behaviors from our evolutionary past, including diet and exercise, shows favorable cardio-metabolic and inflammatory profiles in those individuals characterized with MetS.

Keywords: high-intensity interval training; inflammation; insulin sensitivity; ketogenic diet; lipoproteins; metabolic syndrome; metabolism; paleolithic diet; restricted carbohydrate diet.