Background: Although consuming dietary protein above current recommendations during energy deficit (ED) preserves lean body mass, concerns have been raised regarding the effects of high-protein diets on bone health.
Objective: The objective was to determine whether calcium homeostasis and bone turnover are affected by high-protein diets during weight maintenance (WM) and ED.
Design: In a randomized, parallel-design, controlled trial of 32 men and 7 women, volunteers were assigned diets providing protein at 0.8 [Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)], 1.6 (2 × RDA), or 2.4 (3 × RDA) g · kg(-1) · d(-1) for 31 d. Ten days of WM preceded 21 d of ED, during which total daily ED was 40%, achieved by reduced dietary energy intake (∼30%) and increased physical activity (∼10%). The macronutrient composition (protein g · kg(-1) · d(-1) and % fat) was held constant from WM to ED. Calcium absorption (ratio of (44)Ca to (42)Ca) and circulating indexes of bone turnover were determined at day 8 (WM) and day 29 (ED).
Results: Regardless of energy state, mean (±SEM) urinary pH was lower (P < 0.05) at 2 × RDA (6.28 ± 0.05) and 3 × RDA (6.23 ± 0.06) than at the RDA (6.54 ± 0.06). However, protein had no effect on either urinary calcium excretion (P > 0.05) or the amount of calcium retained (P > 0.05). ED decreased serum insulin-like growth factor I concentrations and increased serum tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase and 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations (P < 0.01). Remaining markers of bone turnover and whole-body bone mineral density and content were not affected by either the protein level or ED (P > 0.05).
Conclusion: These data demonstrate that short-term consumption of high-protein diets does not disrupt calcium homeostasis and is not detrimental to skeletal integrity. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01292395.