We determined the effects of a low glycemic-index pulse-based diet (i.e., containing lentils, chick peas, beans, and split peas) compared to a typical hospital diet on insulin sensitivity assessed by the Matsuda index from the insulin and glucose response to a two-hour oral glucose tolerance test, insulin resistance assessed by the homeostatic model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), bone resorption assessed by 24 h excretion of urinary n-telopeptides(Ntx) and cardiovascular risk factors (blood lipids, blood pressure, arterial stiffness and heart rate variability) during bed rest. Using a randomized, counter-balanced cross-over design with one-month washout, six healthy individuals (30 ± 12 years) consumed the diets during four days of bed rest. The Matsuda index, HOMA-IR, urinary Ntx and cardiovascular risk factors were determined at baseline and after the last day of bed rest. Compared to the typical hospital diet, the pulse-based diet improved the Matsuda index (indicating increased insulin sensitivity; baseline to post-bed rest: 6.54 ± 1.94 to 6.39 ± 2.71 hospital diet vs. 7.14 ± 2.36 to 8.75 ± 3.13 pulse-based diet; p
= 0.017), decreased HOMA-IR (1.38 ± 0.54 to 1.37 ± 0.50 hospital diet vs. 1.48 ± 0.54 to 0.88 ± 0.37 pulse-based diet; p
= 0.022), and attenuated the increase in Ntx (+89 ± 75% hospital diet vs. +33 ± 20% pulse-based diet; p
= 0.035). No differences for changes in cardiovascular risk factors were found between the two diet conditions, with the exception of decreased diastolic blood pressure during day three of bed rest in the pulse-based versus hospital diet (61 ± 9 vs. 66 ± 7 mmHg; p
= 0.03). A pulse-based diet was superior to a hospital diet for maintaining insulin sensitivity, preventing insulin resistance, attenuating bone resorption and decreasing diastolic blood pressure during four days of bed rest.
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