Duke University Logo People suffering from obesity, may be at a higher risk of developing various illnesses or diseases. Now, a latest study has stated that the excess consumption of protein along with fat may lead to insulin resistance in such people. This study analyzed the blood chemistry of those people, who due to obesity may later develop insulin resistance. This informative study was conducted by the Duke Medical Center.

The study investigators have stated that people who are obese seem to possess higher amounts of a protein called the branched-chain amino acids, as compared to those people who are not obese. It has been suspected that these amino acids, along with a high-fat diet, may lead to insulin resistance, which is believed to be a forerunner for diabetes.

They further discovered that the branched-chain amino acid signature of people with obesity was made up of branched-chain amino acids themselves, along with a group of several other products. These products were said to have been associated with the breakdown processes for branched-chain amino acid in the body.

Senior author, Christopher Newgard, PhD, director of the Sarah W. Stedman Nutrition and Metabolism Center and W. David and Sarah W. Stedman Distinguished Professor at Duke, says that, “In the case of the amino acids, we also are finding increased levels of their metabolic breakdown products, which suggests the whole system for handling the amino acid metabolic process has been overloaded. Our rat studies show that this overload causes changes at the cellular level that can lead to insulin resistance.”

In order to verify if the branched-chain amino acid signature observed in such people might be a warning that their consumption is harmful, study investigators carried out a feeding study in rats. This study demonstrated an independent role of branched-chain amino acids to insulin resistance.

It was noticed that the rats on a high-fat diet considerably gained more weight as compared to the rats who consumed branched-chain amino acids with high fat or standard foodstuffs. However, it was found that the rats on a high-fat diet with branched-chain amino acids turned out to be as insulin resistant as the rats on a high-fat diet alone. This was despite the fact that they weren’t eating as much as the other group of rats.

The study investigators, with the aim of determining whether branched-chain amino acids and not high fat contributed to insulin resistance, permitted the animals to freely feed on the foodstuffs. These animals were permitted to either consume standard foodstuffs, a high-fat diet, or a high fat diet with branched-chain amino acids. A fourth group of rats was also believed to have consumed a high-fat diet in an amount which tallied with the lower rate of the food consumed by the rats in the high fat diet with branched-chain amino acids.

Clear insulin resistance was observed in the rats which were on a high-fat diet and also in the ones which were on a high fat diet with branched-chain amino acids. Contrary to this, no such thing was noticed in the rats on standard diet, and the ones consuming lesser high fat foodstuffs. This may indicate that fat consumption in moderation may not be linked with insulin resistance. Having said this, it has also been stated that a more detailed analysis needs to be conducted for the purpose of verifying these claims.

The study investigators hope to conduct further studies with the aim of better understanding the process of what happens when people, who due to obesity have insulin resistance, lose weight.

These findings have been published in the journal Cell Metabolism.