British Journal of Nutrition

Metabolism and Metabolic Studies

Reduced glycaemic and insulinaemic responses following trehalose and isomaltulose ingestion: implications for postprandial substrate use in impaired glucose-tolerant subjects

Judith G. P. van Cana1 c1, Luc J. C. van Loona2, Fred Brounsa1a3 and Ellen E. Blaaka1

a1 Department of Human Biology, Maastricht University Medical Centre, Universiteitssingel 50, 6229 ER Maastricht, The Netherlands

a2 Department of Human Movement Sciences, NUTRIM School for Nutrition, Toxicology and Metabolism, Maastricht University Medical Centre, Maastricht, The Netherlands

a3 Cargill R&D Center, Vilvoorde, Belgium


The impact of slowly digestible sugars in reducing the risk of developing obesity and related metabolic disorders remains unclear. We hypothesised that such carbohydrates (CHO), resulting in a lower glycaemic and insulinaemic response, may lead to greater postprandial fat oxidation rates in subjects with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT). The present study intends to compare the postprandial metabolic responses to the ingestion of glucose (GLUC) v. trehalose (TRE) and sucrose (SUC) v. isomaltulose (IMU). In a randomised, single-blind, cross-over design, ten overweight IGT subjects were studied four times, following ingestion of different CHO drinks either at breakfast or in combination with a mixed meal at lunch. Before and 3 h after CHO ingestion, energy expenditure, substrate utilisation and circulating metabolite concentrations were determined. Ingestion of CHO drinks with a meal resulted in an attenuated rise in GLUC ( − 33 %) and insulin ( − 14 %) concentrations following TRE when compared with GLUC and following IMU, an attenuation of 43 and 34 % when compared with SUC ingestion, respectively. Additionally, there was less inhibition of the rise in NEFA concentrations and less decline in postprandial fat oxidation (22 %) after IMU when compared with SUC, whereas TRE did not differ from GLUC. The attenuated rise in GLUC and insulin concentrations following IMU ingestion attenuated the postprandial inhibition of fat oxidation compared with SUC when co-ingested with a meal. This suggests that exchange of SUC in the diet for IMU may result in a more favourable metabolic response and may help to reduce the risks associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes.

(Received May 11 2011)

(Revised October 18 2011)

(Accepted November 08 2011)

(Online publication December 15 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: J. G. P. van Can, fax +31 43 3670976, email


Abbreviations: CHO, carbohydrate; En%, percentage of energy; GI, glycaemic index; GLUC, glucose; iAUC, incremental area under the curve; IGT, impaired glucose tolerance; IMU, isomaltulose; SUC, sucrose; TRE, trehalose