Purpose of review: High-protein intake is commonly recommended to help people manage body weight. However, high-protein intake could have adverse health consequences. Here we review the latest findings concerning the effect of high-protein intake on cardiometabolic health.
Recent findings: Calorie-reduced, high-protein, low-carbohydrate diets lower plasma glucose in people with type 2 diabetes (T2D). However, when carbohydrate intake is not markedly reduced, high-protein intake often does not alter plasma glucose and increases insulin and glucagon concentrations, which are risk factors for T2D and ischemic heart disease. High-protein intake does not alter plasma triglyceride and cholesterol concentrations but promotes atherogenesis in animal models. The effect of high-protein intake on liver fat remains unclear. In population studies, high-protein intake is associated with increased risk for T2D, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and possibly cardiovascular diseases.
Summary: The relationship between protein intake and cardiometabolic health is complex and influenced by concomitant changes in body weight and overall diet composition. Although a high-protein, low-carbohydrate, reduced-energy diet can have beneficial effects on body weight and plasma glucose, habitual high-protein intake, without marked carbohydrate and energy restriction, is associated with increased cardiometabolic disease risk, presumably mediated by the changes in the hormonal milieu after high-protein intake.