Original Article

Citation: Nutrition & Diabetes (2016) 6, e194; doi:10.1038/nutd.2016.2
Published online 15 February 2016

A low-carbohydrate high-fat diet increases weight gain and does not improve glucose tolerance, insulin secretion or β-cell mass in NZO mice

B J Lamont1, M F Waters1 and S Andrikopoulos1

1Department of Medicine, Austin Hospital, The University of Melbourne, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia

Correspondence: S Andrikopoulos, Department of Medicine, Austin Hospital, The University of Melbourne, Lance Townsend Building Level 7, Studley Road, Heidelberg, Victoria 3084, Australia. E-mail: sof@unimelb.edu.au

Received 30 September 2015; Revised 25 November 2015; Accepted 22 December 2015





Dietary guidelines for the past 20 years have recommended that dietary fat should be minimized. In contrast, recent studies have suggested that there could be some potential benefits for reducing carbohydrate intake in favor of increased fat. It has also been suggested that low-carbohydrate diets be recommended for people with type 2 diabetes. However, whether such diets can improve glycemic control will likely depend on their ability to improve β-cell function, which has not been studied. The objective of the study was to assess whether a low-carbohydrate and therefore high-fat diet (LCHFD) is beneficial for improving the endogenous insulin secretory response to glucose in prediabetic New Zealand Obese (NZO) mice.



NZO mice were maintained on either standard rodent chow or an LCHFD from 6 to 15 weeks of age. Body weight, food intake and blood glucose were assessed weekly. Blood glucose and insulin levels were also assessed after fasting and re-feeding and during an oral glucose tolerance test. The capacity of pancreatic β-cells to secrete insulin was assessed in vivo with an intravenous glucose tolerance test. β-Cell mass was assessed in histological sections of pancreata collected at the end of the study.



In NZO mice, an LCHFD reduced plasma triglycerides (P=0.001) but increased weight gain (P<0.0001), adipose tissue mass (P=0.0015), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (P=0.044) and exacerbated glucose intolerance (P=0.013). Although fasting insulin levels tended to be higher (P=0.08), insulin secretory function in LCHFD-fed mice was not improved (P=0.93) nor was β-cell mass (P=0.75).



An LCHFD is unlikely to be of benefit for preventing the decline in β-cell function associated with the progression of hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetes.

Extra navigation