The initial research into the food insulin index is detailed in a 1997 paper by Susanne Holt et al who tested the insulin demand of thirty eight different foods. 
The food insulin index of various foods was determined by feeding 1000kJ (or 239 kcal) of a particular food to non-diabetics and measuring the insulin secretion over three hours. The insulin secreted for that food over three hours was compared to that of white bread (which was assigned a value of 100%) to arrive at a “food insulin index” value for each food.
Considering how potentially significant this data could be for people trying to minimise the insulin effect of food (e.g. “low carbers” or keto dieters) I was surprised that there hadn’t been much further discussion or research over the past five years.
I found a few references and occasional discussions in podcast, but no one was quite sure what to do with the information, partly due to the small number of foods that had been tested.
foods that require the least insulin
Looking at the food insulin index data from the initial testing we can see that the foods lowest on the insulin index are largely fat.
If we abandon the authority of the food pyramid and our fear of saturated fat, the logical extension of this is that the ideal diet for diabetics or people wanting to lose weight by reducing their insulin load might be to prioritise foods such as butter, oils and bacon that require the least insulin.
Bob Briggs has a YouTube video “Butter Makes Your Pants Fall Off”  with more than 100,000 views where he explains the mechanisms of low carbohydrate nutrition, how insulin promotes fat storage, and how reducing carbohydrates and eating healthier fats leads to a reduction in appetite and can help people lose weight. The food insulin index helps to explain why this is the case.
The ranking of olive oil in the food insulin index (along with the intermittent fasting practised by the Greek Orthodox Church on Crete and consumption of significant amounts of fatty fish) may go some way to explaining the success of the Mediterranean diet which is widely advocated for heart health and longevity.
It may be a stretch, but the food insulin index may also go some way to explaining why Rich Froning keeps winning the CrossFit Games and looking so ripped in spite of consuming an inordinate amount of peanut butter,  a food that isn’t generally considered to be a health food.
Unfortunately, things get a little more complex once we move away from foods that contain more than just fat.
[next article… latest food insulin index data]
[this post is part of the insulin index series]
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