Effect of short- and long-term protein consumption on appetite and appetite-regulating gastrointestinal hormones, a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Physiol Behav. 2020 Nov 1:226:113123. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2020.113123. Epub 2020 Aug 5.


Aim: High-protein diets are considered as useful diets for weight loss programs. We collected randomized controlled trials that evaluated the effect of protein on appetite and gastrointestinal hormones involved in appetite regulation.

Methods: Trials were included if participants were healthy adults and isocaloric treatments were used in control and treatment arms. Random-effects model was used to calculate mean difference and 95% confidence intervals.

Results: In total, 49 publications for acute and 19 articles for long-term effect of protein were included. In acute interventions, protein decreased hunger (-7 mm visual analogue scale (VAS), P<0.001), desire to eat (-5 mm, P = 0.045), and prospective food consumption (-5 mm, P = 0.001) and increased fullness (10 mm, P<0.001) and satiety (4 mm, P<0.001). There was also a decrease in ghrelin (-20 pg/ml, P<0.001) and increase in cholecystokinin (30 pg/ml, P<0.001) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) (21 ng/ml, P<0.001), but no change in gastric inhibitory polypeptide and peptide YY was observed. Appetite markers were affected by protein doses < 35 g but ghrelin, cholecystokinin, and GLP-1 changed significantly after doses ≥ 35 g. Long-term ingestion of protein did not affect these outcomes, except for GLP-1 which showed a significant decrease.

Conclusion: Results of this meta-analysis showed that acute ingestion of protein suppresses appetite, decreases ghrelin, and augments cholecystokinin and GLP-1. Results of long-term trials are inconclusive and further trials are required before a clear and sound conclusion on these trials could be made.

Keywords: Appetite; Cholecystokinin; Ghrelin; Glucagon-like peptide-1; Hunger; Protein; Satiety.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Appetite*
  • Cholecystokinin
  • Dietary Proteins*
  • Energy Intake
  • Gastrointestinal Hormones*
  • Ghrelin
  • Humans
  • Peptide YY
  • Prospective Studies
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


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