Replacing meals with high-protein formulated foods could be a potential way to overcome obesity.
A high-protein total diet replacement may provide similar amounts of calories as other low-protein diets but it has metabolic advantages like greater fat loss.
Data from 2016 suggests that about 2 billion of the world’s adult population are overweight and 650 million of these are obese.
Obesity is a leading cause of death due to its associations with the rising incidence of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Therefore, obesity has become a worldwide public health emergency, calling for strategies to fight it.
Formula foods including high-protein diet replacement products sold in the market are attractive options for the overweight population, but do they really keep the weight off?
A study suggests that nutritional plans consisting of high-protein total diet replacements might be the solution against obesity.
High-protein diets can help weight loss by improving lean body mass, increasing energy expenditure, and the feeling of fullness.
Ms Camila Oliveira, the study’s first author, said:
“Considering the prevalence of obesity worldwide and its impact on health, it’s not surprising nutritional strategies such as total diet replacements and high-protein diets are becoming increasingly popular as weight management strategies; however, research around these topics has not kept pace with their growth in popularity.”
For this study, 43 healthy young adults with a normal weight were recruited.
They were divided into a group who received a high-protein total diet replacement and a control group.
Researchers examined the effect of a high-protein total diet replacement on energy metabolism compared to a typical North American diet (the control group).
The high-protein diet contained 40 percent protein, 35 percent carbohydrate, and 25 percent fat.
The control group diet contained 55 percent carbohydrate, 30 percent fat, and 15 percent protein.
Both groups received the same amount of calories for 32 hours and were screened in a metabolic chamber.
The research team found that the high-protein total diet replacement induced higher fat oxidation (fatty acid break down), increased energy expenditure and negative fat balance (fat loss).
The results also suggest that fewer calories alone won’t cause weight loss as both diets contained the same number of calories meaning a higher proportion of protein is the most likely reason for this occurrence.
Professor Carla Prado, study senior author, said:
“Although these results are restricted to a specific population of healthy, normal-weight adults, they can help nutrition scientists and healthcare providers better understand the real physiological effects of a high-protein total diet replacement in humans.
In our opinion, it is imperative to first understand the physiological impact of a high-protein total diet replacement in a healthy population group so that the effects are better translated in individuals with obesity and its related comorbidities.”
The study was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (Oliveira et al., 2020).