Short-term consumption of a plant protein diet does not improve glucose homeostasis of young C57BL/6J mice

Nutr Healthy Aging. 2017 Dec 7;4(3):239-245. doi: 10.3233/NHA-170025.


Recently, it has become apparent that dietary macronutrient composition has a profound impact on metabolism, health and even lifespan. Work from many laboratories now suggest that dietary protein quality - the precise amino acid composition of the diet, as well as possibly the source of dietary protein - may also be critical in regulating the impact of diet on health. Perhaps in part due to the naturally low methionine content of plants, vegan diets are associated with a decreased risk of diabetes and improved insulin sensitivity, but this association is confounded by the lower overall protein intake of vegans. Here, we test the effect of consuming isocaloric rodent diets with similar amino acid profiles derived from either plant protein or dairy protein. We find that male C57BL/6J mice consuming either diet have similar glycemic control, as assessed by glucose, insulin, and pyruvate tolerance tests, and have similar overall body composition. We conclude that short-term feeding of plant protein has no positive or negative effect on the metabolic health of young male C57BL/6J mice, and suggest that dietary interventions that alter either dietary protein levels or the levels of specific essential amino acids are more likely to improve metabolic health than alterations in dietary protein source.

Keywords: Plant protein; dairy protein; glucose tolerance; insulin sensitivity; macronutrient composition; mice.