Background: Higher protein diets are promoted for effective weight loss. Striated tissues in omnivorous diets contain high-quality protein, but limited data exist regarding their effects on bone.
Methods: To examine the effects of energy restriction-induced weight loss with higher protein omnivorous diets versus lower protein vegetarian diets on bone mineral density in overweight postmenopausal women, two randomized controlled feeding studies were conducted. In Study 1, 28 women consumed 750 kcal/day energy deficit diets with 18% energy from protein via lacto-ovo vegetarian sources (normal protein, n = 15) or 30% energy from protein with 40% of protein from lean pork (higher protein, n = 13, omnivorous) for 12 weeks. In Study 2, 54 women consumed their habitual diet (control, n = 11) or 1,250 kcal/day diets with 16% energy from nonmeat protein sources (n = 14) or 26% energy from protein, including chicken (n = 15) or beef (n = 14) for 9 weeks.
Results: Study 1: With weight loss (normal protein -11.2%, higher protein -10.1%), bone mineral density was not significantly changed in normal protein (-0.003 ± 0.003 g/cm(2), -0.3%) but decreased in higher protein (-0.0167 ± 0.004 g/cm(2), -1. 4%, group-by-time p < .05). Study 2: The control, nonmeat, chicken, and beef groups lost 1.5%, 7.7%, 10.4%, and 8.1% weight and 0.0%, 0.4%, 1.1%, and 1.4% bone mineral density, respectively. The change of bone mineral density was significant for chicken and beef compared with the control (group-by-time, p < .05). Markers of calcium metabolism and bone homeostasis in blood and urine were not changed over time or differentially affected by diet.
Conclusion: Consumption of higher protein omnivorous diets promoted decreased bone mineral density after weight loss in overweight postmenopausal women.