Effects of fat, protein, and carbohydrate and protein load on appetite, plasma cholecystokinin, peptide YY, and ghrelin, and energy intake in lean and obese men

Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2012 Jul;303(1):G129-40. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00478.2011. Epub 2012 May 3.


While protein is regarded as the most satiating macronutrient, many studies have employed test meals that had very high and unsustainable protein contents. Furthermore, the comparative responses between lean and obese subjects and the relationships between energy intake suppression and gut hormone release remain unclear. We evaluated the acute effects of meals with modest variations in 1) fat, protein, and carbohydrate content and 2) protein load on gastrointestinal hormones, appetite, and subsequent energy intake in lean and obese subjects. Sixteen lean and sixteen obese men were studied on four occasions. Following a standardized breakfast, they received for lunch: 1) high-fat (HF), 2) high-protein (HP), 3) high-carbohydrate/low-protein (HC/LP), or 4) adequate-protein (AP) isocaloric test meals. Hunger, fullness, and gut hormones were measured throughout, and at t = 180 min energy intake at a buffet meal was quantified. In lean subjects, hunger was less and fullness greater following HF, HP, and AP compared with HC/LP meals, and energy intake was less following HF and HP compared with HC meals (P < 0.05). In the obese subjects, hunger was less following HP compared with HF, HC/LP, and AP meals, and energy intake was less following HP and AP compared with HF and HC meals (P < 0.05). There were no major differences in hormone responses to the meals among subject groups, but the CCK and ghrelin responses to HP and AP were sustained in both groups. In conclusion, HP meals suppress energy intake in lean and obese subjects, an effect potentially mediated by CCK and ghrelin, while obese individuals appear to be less sensitive to the satiating effects of fat.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Appetite / drug effects*
  • Cholecystokinin / blood*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Energy Intake / drug effects*
  • Gastrointestinal Hormones / metabolism
  • Ghrelin / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Peptide YY / blood*
  • Postprandial Period / drug effects
  • Satiety Response / drug effects
  • Young Adult


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Gastrointestinal Hormones
  • Ghrelin
  • Peptide YY
  • Cholecystokinin