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Am J Clin Nutr. 2016 Mar;103(3):766-74. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.115.124669. Epub 2016 Feb 10.

Higher-protein diets improve indexes of sleep in energy-restricted overweight and obese adults: results from 2 randomized controlled trials.

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Departments of Nutrition Science and.
Statistics, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.
Departments of Nutrition Science and



Limited and inconsistent research findings exist about the effect of dietary protein intake on indexes of sleep.


We assessed the effect of protein intake during dietary energy restriction on indexes of sleep in overweight and obese adults in 2 randomized, controlled feeding studies.


For study 1, 14 participants [3 men and 11 women; mean ± SE age: 56 ± 3 y; body mass index (BMI; in kg/m(2)): 30.9 ± 0.6] consumed energy-restricted diets (a 750-kcal/d deficit) with either beef and pork (BP; n = 5) or soy and legume (SL; n = 9) as the main protein sources for 3 consecutive 4-wk periods with 10% (control), 20%, or 30% of total energy from protein (random order). At baseline and the end of each period, the global sleep score (GSS) was assessed with the use of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) questionnaire. For study 2, 44 participants (12 men and 32 women; age: 52 ± 1 y; BMI: 31.4 ± 0.5) consumed a 3-wk baseline energy-balance diet with 0.8 g protein · kg baseline body mass(-1) · d(-1). Then, study 2 subjects consumed either a normal-protein [NP (control); n = 23] or a high-protein (HP; n = 21) (0.8 compared with 1.5 g · kg(-1) · d(-1), respectively) energy-restricted diet (a 750-kcal/d deficit) for 16 wk. The PSQI was administered during baseline week 3 and intervention weeks 4, 8, 12, and 16. GSSs ranged from 0 to 21 arbitrary units (au), with a higher value representing a worse GSS during the preceding month.


In study 1, we showed that a higher protein quantity improved GSSs independent of the protein source. The GSS was higher (P < 0.05) when 10% (6.0 ± 0.4 au) compared with 20% (5.0 ± 0.4 au) protein was consumed, with 30% protein (5.4 ± 0.6 au) intermediate. In study 2, at baseline, the GSS was not different between NP (5.2 ± 0.5 au) and HP (5.4 ± 0.5 au) groups. Over time, the GSS was unchanged for the NP group and improved for the HP group (P-group-by-time interaction < 0.05). After intervention (week 16), GSSs for NP and HP groups were 5.9 ± 0.5 and 4.0 ± 0.6 au, respectively (P < 0.01).


The consumption of a greater proportion of energy from protein while dieting may improve sleep in overweight and obese adults. This trial was registered at as NCT01005563 (study 1) and NCT01692860 (study 2).


Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index; global sleep score; higher-protein diet; indexes of sleep; weight loss

[Available on 2017-03-01]
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