Could a low-carb diet have more benefits than just weight loss? A new study from the University of Michigan has linked low-carb meals with lowered insulin resistance, which could potentially help those suffering from Type 2 diabetes.

Insulin sensitivity refers to the ability of insulin — a hormone critical in metabolism — to effectively regulate glucose in the blood. If someone is insulin resistant, it means they’re less effective at removing these sugars from the bloodstream and pancreas, and this can eventually lead to diabetes, according to a press release from the University of Michigan. 

The study also revealed that exercise did not lower insulin resistance, but that doesn’t mean working out has no relationship to insulin. Instead, it’s possible that the insulin reaction from a low-carb meal was driven by an intestinal response to the carbohydrate, rather than by being active.

salad A new study is good news for low-carb eaters. Photo courtesy of Pexels

To reach these conclusions, researchers examined a small study group of 32 post-menopausal metabolically healthy women. Groups were given meals of either 30 or 60 percent carbohydrates with or without moderate-intensity exercise before eating.

"What is remarkable about our findings is that they show that a simple dietary modification of reducing the carbohydrate content of the meals can, within a day, protect against development of insulin resistance and block the path toward development of prediabetes while sustained intake of high carbohydrate diets as shown in the two mentioned studies lead to increased fasting insulin secretion and resistance," explained researcher Katarina Borer in the press release. "And even more surprising and amazing is that exercise before the meals made the subjects more carbohydrate intolerant — that is, it increased evening blood sugar levels,”

Source: Lin PJ, Borer KT. Third Exposure to a Reduced Carbohydrate Meal Lowers Evening Postprandial Insulin and GIP Responses and HOMA-IR Estimate of Insulin Resistance. PLOS ONE. 2016.

Read more:

Good Carbs, Bad Carbs: 5 Common Myths About Carbohydrates That May Be Ruining Your Digestive Health

What Are Good Carbs? 5 Ways To Stay Healthy While Eating 'Forbidden Foods'