Tuccinardi, D., N. Perakakis, O.M. Farr, J. Upadhyay, C.S. Mantzoros, 2021. Branched-Chain Amino Acids in relation to food preferences and insulin resistance in obese subjects consuming walnuts: A cross-over, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled inpatient physiology study. Clin Nutr. 40(5):3032-3036.
Background & aims: To assess whether the concentrations of circulating Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) change after walnut consumption and, whether these changes are associated with alterations in markers of insulin resistance and food preferences. Methods: In a crossover, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, ten subjects participated in two 5-day inpatient study admissions, during which they had a smoothie containing 48 g walnuts or a macronutrient-matched placebo smoothie without nuts every morning. Between the two phases there was a 1-month washout period. Results: Fasting valine and isoleucine levels were reduced (p = .047 and p < .001) and beta-hydroxybutyrate levels were increased after 5-days of walnut consumption compared to placebo (p = .023). Fasting valine and isoleucine correlated with HOMA-IR while on walnut (r = 0.709, p = .032 and r = 0.679, p = .044). The postprandial area under the curve (AUC) of leucine in response to the smoothie consumption on day 5 was higher after walnut vs placebo (p = .023) and correlated negatively with the percentage of Kcal from carbohydrate and protein consumed during an ad libitum buffet meal consumed the same day for lunch (r = −0.661, p = .037; r = −0.628, p = .05, respectively). Conclusion: The fasting and post-absorptive profiles of BCAAs are differentially affected by walnut consumption. The reduction in fasting valine and isoleucine may contribute to the longer-term benefits of walnuts on insulin resistance, cardiovascular risk and mortality, whereas the increase in post-absorptive profiles with walnuts may influence food preference.