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Nutr Metab (Lond). 2014 Nov 19;11(1):53. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-11-53. eCollection 2014.

A high-protein diet for reducing body fat: mechanisms and possible caveats.

Author information

1
Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut USA ; Department of Sport Science, Medical Section, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria ; Department of Visceral, Transplant, and Thoracic Surgery, D. Swarovski Research Laboratory, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.
2
Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut USA ; Departments of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, West Haven, Connecticut USA.

Abstract

High protein diets are increasingly popularized in lay media as a promising strategy for weight loss by providing the twin benefits of improving satiety and decreasing fat mass. Some of the potential mechanisms that account for weight loss associated with high-protein diets involve increased secretion of satiety hormones (GIP, GLP-1), reduced orexigenic hormone secretion (ghrelin), the increased thermic effect of food and protein-induced alterations in gluconeogenesis to improve glucose homeostasis. There are, however, also possible caveats that have to be considered when choosing to consume a high-protein diet. A high intake of branched-chain amino acids in combination with a western diet might exacerbate the development of metabolic disease. A diet high in protein can also pose a significant acid load to the kidneys. Finally, when energy demand is low, excess protein can be converted to glucose (via gluconeogenesis) or ketone bodies and contribute to a positive energy balance, which is undesirable if weight loss is the goal. In this review, we will therefore explore the mechanisms whereby a high-protein diet may exert beneficial effects on whole body metabolism while we also want to present possible caveats associated with the consumption of a high-protein diet.

KEYWORDS:

Energy expenditure; High-protein diet; Satiety; Thermic effect of food; Weight loss

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