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Low-carbohydrate diets, such as the keto and Atkins diets, have been effective strategies for weight loss in individuals with obesity. However, the impact of these diets on insulin resistance syndrome (IRS) in healthy individuals with normal weight has been less studied. A cross-sectional observational study aimed to explore the effect of low carbohydrate intake in healthy individuals with normal weight on glucose homeostasis, inflammatory, and metabolic parameters.
The study found low carbohydrate intake was significantly associated with dysregulated glucose homeostasis, as indicated by elevated HOMA-IR, HOMA-β% assessment, and C-peptide levels. Additionally, low carbohydrate intake correlated with lower serum bicarbonate and serum albumin levels, which indicated metabolic acidosis. The increased C-peptide levels under low carbohydrate intake were positively correlated with the secretion of IRS-related inflammatory markers, including FGF2, IP-10, IL-6, IL-17A, and MDC, but negatively correlated with IL-3.
These findings suggest that low-carbohydrate intake in healthy individuals with normal weight may lead to dysfunctional glucose homeostasis, increased metabolic acidosis, and the possibility of triggering inflammation due to elevated C-peptide levels in plasma. Prolonged consumption of low carbohydrate intake causes the liver to produce ketone bodies as an alternative energy source, which may lead to an elevation in the anion gap, as observed in the study's low-carbohydrate group. This elevation was linked to reductions in serum bicarbonate and serum albumin levels. Restrictive diets, such as low-carbohydrate diets, may increase the risk of mineral deficiencies and electrolyte imbalances, which can further cause kidney damage.