Long-term effects of a high-protein weight-loss diet

Am J Clin Nutr. 2008 Jan;87(1):23-9. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/87.1.23.


Background: Evidence that high-protein diets are an effective strategy for the maintenance of long-term weight loss is limited.

Objective: The objective was to determine the efficacy of a higher protein intake on the maintenance of weight loss after 64 wk of follow-up.

Design: Seventy-nine healthy women with a mean (+/-SD) age of 49+/-9 y and a body mass index (in kg/m2) of 32.8+/-3.5 completed an intensive 12-wk weight-loss program and 52 wk of follow-up to compare the effects on weight-loss maintenance of a high-protein (HP) diet (34% of energy) or a high-carbohydrate (HC) diet (64% of energy).

Results: Mean (+/-SD) weight loss was not significantly different between groups: (HP: 4.6+/-5.5 kg; HC: 4.4+/-6.1 kg). Protein intake (g) from dietary records at 64 wk was directly related to weight loss (P<0.0001), accounting for 15% of the variance. Protein intake as a percentage of energy was also related to weight change (P=0.003), accounting for 10% of the variance. In the upper tertile (88 g protein/d), weight loss was 6.5+/-7.5 and 3.4+/-4.4 kg (P=0.03) in the 2 lower tertiles, respectively. This difference did not translate to a difference in central fat loss between groups. Lipids, glucose, insulin, C-reactive protein, and homocysteine all improved with weight loss and were not significantly different between groups. HDL cholesterol rose by 20%. Higher serum vitamin B-12 was observed in the HP group, and folate concentrations were not significantly different between groups.

Conclusions: A reported higher protein intake appears to confer some weight-loss benefit. Cardiovascular disease risk factors, biomarkers of disease, and serum vitamins and minerals improved with no differences between groups.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Composition / drug effects
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • C-Reactive Protein / metabolism
  • Diet, Carbohydrate-Restricted*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Proteins / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Lipids / blood
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Urinalysis
  • Weight Loss*


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Insulin
  • Lipids
  • C-Reactive Protein