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Individuals with abdominal obesity are at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes, predisposing cardiovascular events and insulin resistance. Low glycemic index (GI) diets may be beneficial in the management of insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is associated with increased intramyocellular lipid (IMCL) content as measured by proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS). The primary objective of this thesis was to determine whether a low GI diet can improve insulin sensitivity by reducing IMCL of skeletal muscle. One hundred and twenty-one male and female participants aged 30 to 70 years (mean+SD, 53+10)) with abdominal obesity, entered a 4 to 6 week weight-maintaining, low-fat dietary advice run-in phase. Of the 121 eligible participants, 95 completed the run-in phase and were randomly assigned to either a low-GI (LGID, n=48) or high-GI diet (HGID, n=47) for 24 weeks. Participants underwent a 75g oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) and had soleus-muscle IMCL measured by 1H-MRS at the beginning and end of the intervention period. Insulin sensitivity was assessed by the homeostatic model assessment index (HOMA) and the insulinogenic index (ISI) was calculated for insulin secretion. At the end of the run-in phase, there were significant reductions in serum total-, LDL-, and HDL-cholesterol (all, p<0.0001) and an increase in fasting plasma glucose (p<0.05). In 57 participants who wore a continuous glucose monitoring system for 24 hours during the run-in period, a total of 30% (p<0.001) of the variation in the incremental area under the blood glucose curve after self-selected breakfast meals was explained by GI. After 24 weeks, diet GI was significantly lower in the LGID than HGID group (55.5+3.1 vs 63.9+3.1, p<0.0001). Plasma glucose 60 minutes after the OGTT was significantly lower on the LGID than at baseline (p<0.05) and there was a non-significant trend towards an increase in ISI (p=0.07). On the HGID, ISI increased significantly from baseline (p<0.01). It is concluded that the LGID reduced 60 minute plasma glucose but did not significantly affect IMCL or insulin sensitivity in individuals with abdominal obesity.


Faculty of Applied Health & Community Studies


School of Applied Health

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Original Publication Citation

Kochan, A. (2013). The effects of a low glycemic index diet on glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, and intramyocellular lipids in adults with abdominal obesity (Doctoral thesis, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON). Retrieved from