In the study, mice that were fed a high-protein, high-omega-3, low-carbohydrate diet exhibited lower blood glucose levels, including in induced type 1 diabetes, hormone-induced hyperglycemia, and diet-induced metabolic syndrome.
A diet high in protein and omega-3s, but low in carbohydrates, may be effective in managing blood glucose levels, according to an animal study1 recently published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences. In the study, mice that were fed a high-protein, high-omega-3, low-carbohydrate diet exhibited lower blood glucose levels, including in induced type 1 diabetes, hormone-induced hyperglycemia, and diet-induced metabolic syndrome.
Hyperglycemia, an excess of glucose in the bloodstream, can contribute to the development and progression of metabolic diseases, the authors write. Managing postprandial blood glucose fluctuations, then, is essential for subjects with hyperglycemia. However, according to the authors, “safe and effective means of reducing blood glucose levels are still lacking.” Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have been known to improve glucose homeostasis, lipid metabolism, inflammatory response, and oxidative stress, and are considered beneficial for subjects with diabetes and obesity.
In the current study, researchers examined the effects of five different diets with varying macronutrient ratios on reducing blood glucose levels in mice. The diets included 1) a control diet; 2) a high-carbohydrate/low-omega-3 diet; 3) a high-carbohydrate/high-omega-3 diet; 4) a low-carbohydrate/high-fat/high-omega-3 diet; and 5) a low-carbohydrate/high-omega-3/high-protein diet. According to the study authors, each diet featured a “high” energy contribution percentage from one of the three major macronutrients-carbohydrate, protein, or fat.
Over the 12-week study period, researchers recorded mice’s body weight once per week, and calculated the mice’s average food intake once every three days. In addition, they measured mice’s blood glucose levels at random time points and following a night of fasting.
While mice given any of the three low-carbohydrate diets demonstrated lower blood glucose levels when compared with the control group, the group given the high-omega-3, high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet exhibited a faster decrease in blood glucose levels after only three days. Mice in the high-omega-3, high-protein, low-carbohydrate groups also sustained lower blood glucose levels throughout the study period. The high-omega-3, high-protein, low-carbohydrate group also did not exhibit significant postprandial spike in blood glucose.
In addition, the group fed the high-omega-3, high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet demonstrated reduced blood glucose levels in several induced disease conditions, including type 1 diabetes mellitus, hormone-induced hyperglycemia, and diet-induced metabolic syndrome.
The researchers did not observe any differences in body weight and average dietary calories between the groups. They concluded that a diet high in omega-3s and protein, but low in carbohydrates, can “quickly and effectively lower the blood glucose levels, and that the supplementation of omega-3 to the [low-carbohydrate, high-protein] diet is instrumental in minimizing postprandial glucose spikes.”
“Our findings identify the [low-carbohydrate, high-protein plus omega-3] diet as a potent blood glucose-lowering diet that suppresses postprandial blood glucose fluctuations through the inhibition of gluconeogenesis and may have great clinical utility for the management of metabolic diseases with hyperglycemia,” they write.
The researchers note that the current study is the first study to demonstrate that a high-protein, low carbohydrate diet with omega-3 can lower blood glucose levels and minimize postprandial blood glucose fluctuations. They add that the current study “provides new insights into the role of omega-3 fatty acids in controlling severe hyperglycemia and diabetes complications.”
1. Wang B et al., “Suppression of postprandial blood glucose fluctuations by a low-carbohydrate, high-protein, and high-omega-3 diet via inhibition of gluconeogenesis,” International Journal of Molecular Sciences, vol. 19, no. 7 (June 21, 2018): 1823