Previous studies suggest that a low-glycaemic index (LGI) diet may improve insulin sensitivity (IS). As IS has been shown to decrease during refeeding, we hypothesised that an LGI- v. high-GI (HGI) diet might have favourable effects during this phase. In a controlled nutritional intervention study, sixteen healthy men (aged 26·8 (sd 4·1) years, BMI 23·0 (sd 1·7) kg/m2) followed 1 week of overfeeding, 3 weeks of energy restriction and of 2 weeks refeeding at ± 50 % energy requirement (50 % carbohydrates, 35 % fat and 15 % protein). During refeeding, subjects were divided into two matched groups receiving either high-fibre LGI or lower-fibre HGI foods (GI 40 v. 74, fibre intake 65 (sd 6) v. 27 (sd 4) g/d). Body weight was equally regained in both groups with refeeding (mean regain 70·5 (sd 28·0) % of loss). IS was improved by energy restriction and decreased with refeeding. The decreases in IS were greater in the HGI than in the LGI group (group × time interactions for insulin, homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMAIR), Matsuda IS index (MatsudaISI); all P< 0·05). Mean interstitial glucose profiles during the day were also higher in the HGI group (ΔAUCHGI-LGI of continuous interstitial glucose monitoring: 6·6 mmol/l per 14 h, P= 0·04). At the end of refeeding, parameters of IS did not differ from baseline values in either diet group (adiponectin, insulin, HOMAIR, MatsudaISI, M-value; all P>0·05). In conclusion, nutritional stress imposed by dietary restriction and refeeding reveals a GI/fibre effect in healthy non-obese subjects. LGI foods rich in fibre may improve glucose metabolism during the vulnerable refeeding phase of a weight cycle.