Research: High-protein diet improves weight loss and metabolic syndrome

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A high-protein diet may be the answer for weight loss and metabolic syndrome.



The high protein lifestyle has been recommended for weight loss for years.  Some argue that fat and protein from meat is the cause of obesity.  Many are beginning to suggest that we should avoid protein and in particular meat because it makes us unhealthy.  I would argue that the answer is a more balanced meal.  Multiple studies have shown that protein-enriched diets can lead to greater weight loss and improvements in the markers of metabolic syndrome than standard protein diets.

A recent study from 2017 looked at the question of high protein diets and their effect on metabolic syndrome[1].  The aim of this study was to use a randomized trial to determine the effect of increased protein intake on weight loss in Mexican adults with metabolic syndrome. The trial was conducted on 118 adults with an average age of just over 47 years.   The subject all met the diagnostic criteria for metabolic syndrome and were randomly assigned to hypocaloric diets providing either 0.8 grams protein per kilogram body weight (standard protein diet or control group) or 1.34 grams protein per kilogram body weight (higher protein diet or intervention group) for 6 months.

High Protein Foods

High Protein Foods

During the trial, researchers looked at body weight, waist circumference, percent body fat by bioimpedance analysis, and blood work markers at baseline, 3 months, and at 6 months. There were 105 subjects who completed the trial.  The high-protein group lost significantly more weight with an average of almost 9 pounds additional weight lost when researched too into account adherence.  The high-protein group also lost significantly more waist circumference with nearly 1 inch of additional waist circumference lost.  Unfortunately, none of the other measures were different, but inches lost off the waist should correlate to a lower risk of metabolic syndrome if it is maintained.    Also, the dieters were 75% more adherent more to the higher protein diet.

I would argue that a larger study is needed and although this study is not conclusive, it is promising.   Processed food is the bain of the American diet and whole foods combined with lean meats is probably the answer.  

The bottom line:  Higher protein diets may be the solution for some dieters and when mixed with lean protein sources and foods, it should result in higher weight loss and less metabolic syndrome.  More adherence participants on a higher protein diet lost significantly more weight than adherent participants in the control group.  Decrease waist circumference is also a promising finding.   I would like to see a larger study that adds less processed foods to the mix.  


I. Campos-Nonato, L. Hernandez, and S. Barquera, “Effect of a High-Protein Diet versus Standard-Protein Diet on Weight Loss and Biomarkers of Metabolic Syndrome: A Randomized Clinical Trial,” Obes Facts, vol. 10, no. 3, pp. 238–251, 2017 [Online]. Available: 10.1159/000471485″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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