Differential Glycemic Effects of Low- versus High-Glycemic Index Mediterranean-Style Eating Patterns in Adults at Risk for Type 2 Diabetes: The MEDGI-Carb Randomized Controlled Trial

Nutrients. 2022 Feb 8;14(3):706. doi: 10.3390/nu14030706.


A Mediterranean-style healthy eating pattern (MED-HEP) supports metabolic health, but the utility of including low-glycemic index (GI) foods to minimize postprandial glucose excursions remain unclear. Therefore, we investigated the relative contribution of GI towards improvements in postprandial glycemia and glycemic variability after adopting a MED-HEP. We conducted a randomized, controlled dietary intervention, comparing high- versus low-GI diets in a multi-national (Italy, Sweden, and the United States) sample of adults at risk for type 2 diabetes. For 12 weeks, participants consumed either a low-GI or high-GI MED-HEP. We assessed postprandial plasma glucose and insulin responses to high- or low-GI meals, and daily glycemic variability via continuous glucose monitoring at baseline and post-intervention. One hundred sixty adults (86 females, 74 males; aged 55 ± 11 y, BMI 31 ± 3 kg/m2, mean ± SD) with ≥two metabolic syndrome traits completed the intervention. Postprandial insulin concentrations were greater after the high-GI versus the low-GI test meals at baseline (p = 0.004), but not post-intervention (p = 0.17). Postprandial glucose after the high-GI test meal increased post-intervention, being significantly higher than that after the low-GI test meal (35%, p < 0.001). Average daily glucose concentrations decreased in both groups post-intervention. Indices of 24-h glycemic variability were reduced in the low-GI group as compared to baseline and the high-GI intervention group. These findings suggest that low-GI foods may be an important feature within a MED-HEP.

Keywords: Mediterranean diet; continuous glucose monitoring; glycemic variability; impaired glycemic control; insulinemia; meal glucose tolerance test; metabolic health; metabolic risk factors; metabolic syndrome; oral glucose tolerance test.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Blood Glucose Self-Monitoring
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2* / prevention & control
  • Female
  • Glycemic Index*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Postprandial Period


  • Blood Glucose

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