Protein diets, body weight loss and weight maintenance

Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2014 Jan;17(1):75-9. doi: 10.1097/MCO.0000000000000006.


Purpose of review: The review addresses briefly the relevance of protein diets for body weight loss and weight maintenance. The addition of recent findings on age-dependent protein requirements, specific effects of protein intake and protein source, the relevance of the other dietary macronutrients, especially of 'low-carb', 'protein leverage', the mechanisms of protein-induced satiety, and food-reward makes the review up-to-date.

Recent findings: Different effects of protein diets in different age groups result from age-dependent protein requirements that are primarily related to effects on body composition. A protein intake of 0.8 g/kg/day is sufficient to sustain a negative energy balance in adults, irrespective of the protein source. 'Low-carb' diets trace back to the protein-induced effects. Evidence that protein intake drives energy intake as suggested by the 'Protein leverage hypothesis' is scarce and equivocal. Finally, limited protein-induced food reward may affect compliance to a protein diet.

Summary: An implication of the findings for clinical practice is that a protein intake of 0.8-1.2 g/kg/day is sufficient to sustain satiety, energy expenditure, and fat-free mass, independent of a dietary 'low-carb' content. Limited protein-induced food reward may affect compliance to a protein diet.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Appetite / physiology
  • Body Composition
  • Body Weight*
  • Diet
  • Diet, Protein-Restricted / adverse effects
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Homeostasis*
  • Humans
  • Leucine / administration & dosage
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Satiation
  • Weight Loss*


  • Dietary Proteins
  • Leucine