Does red meat consumption increase your risk for developing type-2 diabetes? Some epidemiologic studies have suggested this much, while also linking increased dairy consumption with decreased type-2 diabetes risk.1 Insulin sensitivity is the proposed mechanism driving these associations.
People with low insulin sensitivity, also known as being insulin resistant, require greater amounts of insulin from the pancreas to stabilize blood glucose levels. Over time, insulin resistance promotes type-2 diabetes as the pancreas fails to satisfy the body’s insulin requirements. This causes excess glucose to build up in the bloodstream, thereby promoting type-2 diabetes.
Previously published epidemiological studies have led to the hypothesis that increased red meat consumption promotes lower insulin sensitivity, whereas increased dairy consumption promotes higher insulin sensitivity. This hypothesis, however, has not been tested via randomized controlled trials, until now.
For a study recently published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers tested three different diets on 47 overweight or obese men and women.2 The diets included a) a diet high in red meat with minimal dairy, b) a diet high in dairy with no red meat, and c) a diet with no red meat, nor any dairy. Each participant followed each diet for a period of four weeks.
Until now, few intervention studies have evaluated red meat and dairy for their effects on insulin sensitivity in the absence of weight loss. The researchers, therefore, designed this study to maintain weight stability so as to isolate the effects of red meat and dairy on insulin sensitivity. Their primary hypothesis was that the red meat diet would produce greater insulin resistance (lower insulin sensitivity) compared to the high-dairy diet.
To their surprise, the opposite happened. Fasting insulin was significantly higher after the high-dairy diet compared to the red meat diet. There was no change in fasting glucose, which means the high-dairy diet promoted greater insulin resistance (lower insulin sensitivity) than the red meat diet.
These findings run contrary to the hypothesis that red meat consumption increases your risk for type-2 diabetes. Red meat, as those who follow the Paleo lifestyle know, is an invaluable source of high-quality protein and fat, as well as various vitamins and minerals. Continue eating it and should you be short on inspiration, our Sage Infused Mushroom Burgers are an excellent place to start!
SAGE INFUSED MUSHROOM BURGERS
- 1 lb lean ground beef
- ¼ lb mushrooms
- 2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped finely
- 3 cloves garlic
- 4 tbsp olive oil, divided
- Freshly milled black pepper
Christopher James Clark, B.B.A. is an award-winning writer, consultant, and chef with specialized knowledge in nutritional science and healing cuisine. He has a Business Administration degree from the University of Michigan and formerly worked as a revenue management analyst for a Fortune 100 company. For the past decade-plus, he has been designing menus, recipes, and food concepts for restaurants and spas, coaching private clients, teaching cooking workshops worldwide, and managing the kitchen for a renowned Greek yoga resort. Clark is the author of the critically acclaimed, award-winning book, Nutritional Grail.
 Turner, KM, et al. (Mar 2015). Red meat, dairy, and insulin sensitivity: a randomized crossover intervention study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 101(3). Retrieved from http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2015/03/25/ajcn.114.104976.abstract
 Ibid. Turner