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Protein diets, body weight loss and weight maintenance

Martens, Eveline A.P.; Westerterp-Plantenga, Margriet S.

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care:
doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000006
PROTEIN, AMINO ACID METABOLISM AND THERAPY: Edited by Olav Rooyackers and John Brosnan

Purpose of review: The review addresses briefly the relevance of protein diets for body weight loss and weight maintenance. The addition of recent findings on age-dependent protein requirements, specific effects of protein intake and protein source, the relevance of the other dietary macronutrients, especially of ‘low-carb’, ‘protein leverage’, the mechanisms of protein-induced satiety, and food-reward makes the review up-to-date.

Recent findings: Different effects of protein diets in different age groups result from age-dependent protein requirements that are primarily related to effects on body composition. A protein intake of 0.8 g/kg/day is sufficient to sustain a negative energy balance in adults, irrespective of the protein source. ‘Low-carb’ diets trace back to the protein-induced effects. Evidence that protein intake drives energy intake as suggested by the ‘Protein leverage hypothesis’ is scarce and equivocal. Finally, limited protein-induced food reward may affect compliance to a protein diet.

Summary: An implication of the findings for clinical practice is that a protein intake of 0.8–1.2 g/kg/day is sufficient to sustain satiety, energy expenditure, and fat-free mass, independent of a dietary ‘low-carb’ content. Limited protein-induced food reward may affect compliance to a protein diet.

Author Information

Department of Human Biology, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands

Correspondence to Margriet S. Westerterp-Plantenga, Department of Human Biology, Maastricht University, PO Box 616, 6200 MD, Maastricht, The Netherlands. Tel: +31 433881566; e-mail:

© 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins