Hypocaloric high-protein diet improves glucose oxidation and spares lean body mass: comparison to hypocaloric high-carbohydrate diet

Metabolism. 1994 Dec;43(12):1481-7. doi: 10.1016/0026-0495(94)90005-1.


The aim of the study was to investigate the effects of two hypocaloric (800-kcal) diets on body weight reduction and composition, insulin sensitivity, and proteolysis in 25 normal glucose-tolerant obese women. The two diets had the following composition: 45% protein, 35% carbohydrate (CHO), and 20% fat (HP diet, 10 subjects), and 60% CHO, 20% protein, and 20% fat (HC diet, 15 subjects); both lasted 21 days. A euglycemic hyperinsulinemic (25 mU/kg/h) clamp lasting 150 minutes combined with indirect calorimetry was performed before and after the diet. Both diets induced a similar decrease in body weight and fat mass (FM), whereas fat-free mass (FFM) decreased only after the HC diet. 3-Methylhistidine (3-CH3-HIS) excretion was reduced by 48% after the HP diet and remained unchanged after the HC diet (P < .05). A significant correlation was found between the changes in FFM and in 3-CH3-HIS excretion after the diet (rs = .50, P < .02). Blood glucose remained unchanged, while insulin decreased in both diets. Free fatty acids (FFA) significantly increased only after the HC diet (P < .05). During the clamp period, glucose disposal and glucose oxidation significantly increased after the HP diet and significantly decreased after the HC diet. Opposite results were found when measuring lipid oxidation. In conclusion, our experience suggests that (1) a hypocaloric diet providing a high percentage of natural protein can improve insulin sensitivity; and (2) conversely, a hypocaloric high-polysaccharide-CHO diet decreases insulin sensitivity and is unable to spare muscle tissue.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Composition / physiology*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diet, Reducing*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose Clamp Technique
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology
  • Lipid Peroxidation / physiology
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Weight Loss / physiology


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Proteins
  • Glucose