View Full Version : Meal Size and Insulin Response
01-21-2009, 03:19 AM
After skimming through Sears's book again, I came across a point he makes about meal size: he states that a large meal can also trigger an insulin response, regardless on how "zoned" it is. To what extent is this true?
I've dabbled with both Zone and IF, both of which where based in Paleo foods. I'm wondering if the insulin response of two big meals per day (e.g., 8 blocks per) or one really large meal per day (up to a lb. of meat!) was negatively impacting my insulin levels. I guess my question is simply how much of a response does this have? Would a large meal of steak and eggs have a triggered insulin kick? Seems odd to me. But, perhaps this is one area where the Zone's small portion sizes makes more sense than a OMPD.
I don't want to start a "which is better post" because I've tried both and have had progress of each. I think this is purely from a scientific standpoint, and what I think is an interesting difference between the two approaches. I have read, too, and understand that small meals spaced out through the day DOES NOT promote a "revved" metabolism--this is not about that!
01-21-2009, 07:06 AM
Ratios do matter
Postprandial glycemic and insulinemic responses to high-carbohydrate vs high-protein meals in obese normoglycemic subjects with varied insulin sensitivity
Volume 25, Issue 6, Pages 535-548 (June 2005)
The aim of this study was to investigate whether metabolic responses to diet composition differ between obese subjects with varied insulin sensitivity. Fourteen healthy obese normoglycemic male subjects were divided according to their homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) values: group A, HOMA-IR ≤2.6 (n = 5); group B, 2.6 < HOMA-IR < 5.0 (n = 4); and group C, HOMA-IR ≥5.0 (n = 5) and given, on 2 separate days, either a high-carbohydrate (HC) (58% carbohydrates, 12% protein, and 30% fat) or an equicaloric high-protein meal (52% protein, 18% carbohydrates, and 30% fat). Glucose, insulin, and lactate were determined before and during 4 hours after ingesting the meals. Results showed that within the HC meal, postprandial glucose and insulin responses and the area under the curve for glucose, insulin, and lactate were significantly higher in group C than group A. Comparing meals, the HC meal resulted in significantly higher area under the curve for glucose and insulin in groups A, B, and C and higher lactic acid in B and C than the corresponding values on the high-protein meal. This study illustrates that diet composition should be an important consideration in dietary management of obesity when accompanied by insulin resistance.
01-22-2009, 06:56 AM
But does the size matter too? (pardon the loaded question) I understand that the proportions are important, but lets say that keeping insulin levels low is important, how does a large meal affect insulin levels, even if it's a high protein/fat, low carb meal? Maybe I'm not intelligent enough to understand your post, Mike...Just thought it might be a down-side of eating one or two meals per day, if I were going low carb and IF.
Would the size of the meal negate the insulin control I was attempting with eating low carb in the first place?
Thanks for any clarification,
01-22-2009, 07:43 AM
If you are doing IF....eating low carb...and do have some sort of higher insulin response to a larger meal....the fasting hours with less insulin release should help balance the equation. Low carb eating will also prevent high blood sugar issues. Of course remember IF is supposed to be intermittent....so mix it up.
Plus if you are exercising you are also improving insulin sensitivity.
Honestly if you want definitive answers you could get your fasting insulin tested every month or so to see what is really going on.
01-22-2009, 05:28 PM
From what ive read, meal frequency had a negative correlation with insulin sensitivity. More meals means less sensitivity.
I think that the fact that you havent eaten anything all day, and are eating a large meal all of a sudden, youre going to spike. I usually 'prime' my stomach with some kind of liquid calories, milk or shake with a high protein:low carb ratio, and I dont experience that crazy spike I would feel when I didnt.
01-22-2009, 05:55 PM
I think it's Stephan at Whole Health Source (or might be Peter at Hyperlipid) that has discussed the impact of insulin spikes vs. having high fasting insulin. He points out that many traditional groups relied heavily on roots and even grains (though properly prepared grains...not like what we have in the store) and had fairly carby diets, to the tune of 10-15% protein and 50-60% carbs. Their insulin no doubt spiked on such fare, but their fasting insulin remained low.
Basically, I don't think the spike to digest real food is a huge issue. The spike when it's sugar and processed grains on top of a high resting insulin is likely no helping. I may be completely off base too.
01-23-2009, 06:50 AM
There is probably something also to the time it takes to normalize from just "elevated" insulin with slower more natural digesting carbs....then the "bum rush" spike to take care of quick and skyrocketing blood sugar from processed sources. Also the damage factor could be higher in the very quick and high spikes vs just elevated insulin.
01-23-2009, 07:06 AM
I think we need to factor activity levels into this because you can't really compare a physically active hunter-gatherer or third world peasant farmer with the average fat assed desk jockey/couch potato because we know that exercise improves insulin sensitivity independent of all dietary factors.
01-23-2009, 08:41 AM
Well, lucky for me, my job includes running up and down flights of stairs and walking all over the hospital for about 8 hours. Ill get as many as 5 miles in a day, its nice.
Between that, and walking to school, about 4 mile commute, I havent had to do any cardio at all.
All that walking around throughout the day has to have a positive effect on my insulin sensitivity. Not sure how good it is though for HGH and Testosterone levels...
01-23-2009, 10:57 AM
Not sure how good it is though for HGH and Testosterone levels...
Eat enough protein/fat/calories and train the muscles a couple times a week....you'll be lean and mean.
02-02-2009, 07:24 PM
So, I just came off of a 19 hour fast today and, planning on this being my only meal of the day, headed to the Whole Foods buffet. I had (about) 6 oz of beef, 2 eggs (in a canola oil mayo), and 4 oz of chicken, plus four cups of broc and one cup melon (HUGE MEAL).
So, my body's response to this was to fall asleep about 20 minutes after. Is this coincidence or meal size? It was about 430 pm and I was forced to get a coffee to stay awake for class. Mike OD mentioned that as long as the meal is not a carb bomb, the insulin response shouldn't be dramatic; however, I usually only get that type of response if I eat a lot of carbs...so, is that result merely a response to the gargantuan size of the meal?
02-02-2009, 08:58 PM
Mike OD mentioned that as long as the meal is not a carb bomb, the insulin response shouldn't be dramatic; however, I usually only get that type of response if I eat a lot of carbs...so, is that result merely a response to the gargantuan size of the meal?
I said (or tried to imply) that it shouldn't be AS dramatic....but large meals will generate higher insulin than a smaller meal if based mostly of protein. Also large meals will probably shift your body into a more PNS CNS response which means putting more blood flow into digestion and not staying awake....as it's not a priority. Just makes sense the body is not designed to want to be active/alert after eating a large meal. While I can easily eat 6 eggs and 1/2lb of bacon and still be alert....doesn't mean there isn't a limit, as the last time I ate at an all you can eat ribs place I was napping on the couch an hour later....as I probably ate 2lbs of ribs. Hence....trying to eat one large meal and still function is probably not viable....unless it is at night and you have nothing to do but rest and go to sleep.
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