The effects of high-protein diets on weight loss factors.




Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Obesity, Weight Loss
Professional Data: Obesity, Weight Loss


Everyone knows what it means to be overweight. From early age on, children can tell the difference between "fat" and "thin" people. They also get the clear message that fat people are apt to be less popular. Body weight is one of the most basic issues of human life. Self-esteem, acceptance among peers-- and perhaps lifelong success or failure—are, unfortunately, all tied to our physical appearance.

According to some theories, obesity may have genetic origins. This is bolstered by studies showing that two obese parents are at greater risk of having children with adult weight problems.1 On the other hand, learned habits and poor dietary choices in childhood could have as much to do with this as heredity. After all, many people with overweight parents successfully manage their weight in adulthood using diet and exercise. Given the astonishing number of overweight Americans, the root causes of obesity are probably more behavioral than genetic.

Only in the past few years have researchers began to study the effects of a high-protein diet on weight loss. Studies have shown the potential for these diets in reducing food intake and reducing weight in certain individuals. A recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition reviewed these studies. They studied the effects of high-protein diets on thermogenesis, satiety, body weight and fat loss. They found that diets with a high intake of protein create more a thermogenic effect than diets with lower protein content. In addition, high-protein diets reduce energy intake, meaning less food was consumed. However, the rate of weight or fat loss was not consistent in all the studies reviewed. The authors concluded that more long-term studies are needed, but there are potential benefits to the high-protein diet.2


1. Sorensen TI. The genetics of obesity. Metabolism. Sep1995;44(9 Suppl 3):4-6.
2. Halton TL, et al.The Effects of High Protein Diets on Thermogenesis, Satiety and Weight Loss: A Critical Review Journal of the American College of Nutrition. oct 2004;23(5):373-385.