Replacing Foods with a High-Glycemic Index and High in Saturated Fat by Alternatives with a Low Glycemic Index and Low Saturated Fat Reduces Hepatic Fat, Even in Isocaloric and Macronutrient Matched Conditions

J. Basset-Sagarminaga, K.H.M. Roumans, B. Havekes, R.P. Mensink, H.P.F. Peters, P.L. Zock, R. de Mutsert, J. Boren, L. Lindeboom, P. Schrauwen*, V.B. Schrauwen-Hinderling*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Current guidelines aim to limit the dietary glycemic index (GI) and intake of saturated fatty acids (SFA). Several studies have shown favorable effects of low-GI or low-SFA diets on intrahepatic lipid content (IHL), but these studies were performed under overfeeding conditions or extreme differences in GI or SFA to maximize the contrast between diets. By combining changes in GI and SFA, we can mimic how people can improve their diet in a realistic setting. Objectives: We investigated the effect on liver fat content and substrate metabolism of both reducing GI and replacing SFA with polyunsaturated fat in practically realistic amounts under isocaloric conditions. Design and Methods: In a randomized crossover study, thirteen overweight participants consumed two diets, one high in GI and SFA (high GI/SFA) and one low in GI and SFA (low GI/SFA) with identical macronutrient composition, for two weeks each. Diets were equal in caloric content, consisted of habitual food items, and had a macronutrient composition that can be easily achieved in daily life. At the end of each intervention, IHL content/composition and liver glycogen were measured by magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Additionally, fasted and postprandial hepatic de novo lipogenesis and glycemic and metabolic responses were investigated. Results: IHL was significantly lower (-28%) after the two-week low-GI/SFA diet (2.4 +/- 0.5% 95% CI [1.4, 3.4]) than after the two-week high-GI/SFA diet (3.3 +/- 0.6% 95% CI [1.9, 4.7], p < 0.05). Although hepatic glycogen content, hepatic de novo lipogenesis, hepatic lipid composition, and substrate oxidation during the night were similar between the two diets, the glycemic response to the low-GI/SFA diet was reduced (p < 0.05). Conclusions: Changes in macronutrient quality can already have drastic effects on liver fat content and postprandial glycemia after two weeks and even when energy content and the percentage of total fat and carbohydrate remains unchanged.
Original languageEnglish
Article number735
Number of pages15
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2023


  • adults with overweight and obesity
  • magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • heavy water
  • de novo lipogenesis
  • dietary intervention
  • liver glycogen

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