Acid-base balance and weight gain: are there crucial links via protein and organic acids in understanding obesity?

Med Hypotheses. 2009 Sep;73(3):347-56. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2008.09.059. Epub 2009 May 1.


Obesity is associated with ever increasing social costs posing a general public health challenge. The most obvious reason for obesity, given healthy body functioning, is a positive calorie balance. This article delves into the lesser studied realm of the relationship of weight gain, in particular adipose tissue gain, with increased hydrogen ion concentration, taking protein and organic acids as important caveats in this discussion. The review opens the topic with the contradictory result of various studies reporting a positive relationship between chronic metabolic acidosis and weight loss. It goes to explain a process of weight gain, primarily adipose tissue gain, on acidogenic diets. Insufficient dietary protein could lead to muscle loss, and individual organic acids might indicate if there is any fatty acid oxidation or accumulation of hydrogen ion. The solution to the acid accumulation is discussed not in protein limitation but an increase in the consumption of vegetables and fruits. Finally, this review article based on studies published puts forward a physiological basis including a hypothesis to explain the possible link between hydrogen ion concentration and weight gain. This link could possibly explain the development of diseases and aging partially, and warrants research.

MeSH terms

  • Acid-Base Equilibrium
  • Acids / administration & dosage*
  • Administration, Oral
  • Dietary Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological*
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Organic Chemicals / administration & dosage*
  • Weight Gain*


  • Acids
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Organic Chemicals