Bile acids (BA) are potent metabolic regulators influenced by diet. We studied effects of isoenergetic increases in the dietary protein and cereal-fiber contents on circulating BA and insulin resistance (IR) in overweight and obese adults. Randomized controlled nutritional intervention (18 weeks) in 72 non-diabetic participants (overweight/obese: 29/43) with at least one further metabolic risk factor. Participants were group-matched and allocated to four isoenergetic supplemented diets: control; high cereal fiber (HCF); high-protein (HP); or moderately increased cereal fiber and protein (MIX). Whole-body IR and insulin-mediated suppression of hepatic endogenous glucose production were measured using euglycaemic–hyperinsulinemic clamps with [6-62H2] glucose infusion. Circulating BA, metabolic biomarkers, and IR were measured at 0, 6, and 18 weeks. Under isoenergetic conditions, HP-intake worsened IR in obese participants after 6 weeks (M-value: 3.77 ± 0.58 vs. 3.07 ± 0.44 mg/kg/min, p = 0.038), with partial improvement back to baseline levels after 18 weeks (3.25 ± 0.45 mg/kg/min, p = 0.089). No deleterious effects of HP-intake on IR were observed in overweight participants. HCF-diet improved IR in overweight participants after 6 weeks (M-value 4.25 ± 0.35 vs. 4.81 ± 0.31 mg/kg/min, p = 0.016), but did not influence IR in obese participants. Control and MIX diets did not influence IR. HP-induced, but not HCF-induced changes in IR strongly correlated with changes of BA profiles. MIX-diet significantly increased most BA at 18 weeks in obese, but not in overweight participants. BA remained unchanged in controls. Pooled BA concentrations correlated with fasting fibroblast growth factor-19 (FGF-19) plasma levels (r = 0.37; p = 0.003). Higher milk protein intake was the only significant dietary predictor for raised total and primary BA in regression analyses (total BA, p = 0.017; primary BA, p = 0.011). Combined increased intake of dietary protein and cereal fibers markedly increased serum BA concentrations in obese, but not in overweight participants. Possible mechanisms explaining this effect may include compensatory increases of the BA pool in the insulin resistant, obese state; or defective BA transport.
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