A new way to lose weight could change your metabolism

A new way to lose weight could change your metabolism

Weight loss concept before and after

The study involved twenty-one different patients with metabolic syndrome. They were given a diet with restricted calorie or protein intake.

Protein restriction is effective in fighting obesity and diabetes, according to new research.

According to a study comparing the effects of protein-restricted and calorie-restricted diets in humans, reducing protein consumption may help control metabolic syndrome and some of its primary symptoms, such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension). The findings of the study were recently published in the journal Nutrients.

The term “metabolic syndrome” refers to a group of diseases, including hypertension, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist and abnormal cholesterol levels, that increase the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke.

“The study showed that reducing protein intake to 0.8 g per kg of body weight was sufficient to achieve almost the same clinical results as calorie restriction, but without the need to reduce calorie intake. The results suggest that protein restriction may be one of the key factors leading to the known benefits of dietary restriction. A protein-restricted diet may therefore be a more attractive nutritional strategy and easier to follow for people with metabolic syndrome,” said Rafael Ferraz-Bannitz, first author of the article and currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Harvard Medical School in the United States of America.

Controlled diet

21 people with metabolic syndrome participated in the research and were monitored for 27 days. During the entire period they were hospitalized at the FMRP-USP teaching hospital (Hospital das Clnicas in Ribeiro Preto).

Daily caloric intake for each participant was determined as a function of their basal metabolic rate (resting energy expenditure). A conventional Western diet of 50% carbohydrates, 20% protein and 30% fat was served to one group, but contained 25% fewer calories.

Protein consumption was reduced to 10% in the second group. Each volunteer’s caloric intake was matched to their baseline energy expenditure. Both groups consumed 4 grams of salt per day.

The results showed that both the calorie and protein restricted groups lost weight due to a reduction in body fat and that symptoms of metabolic syndrome improved. Reduced body fat is known to be associated with reduced blood sugar and more normal levels of lipids and blood pressure.

“After 27 days of follow-up, both groups had similar results in terms of lower blood sugar, weight loss, controlled blood pressure, and lower triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Both children improved insulin sensitivity after treatment. Body fat decreased, as well as waist and hip circumference, but without loss of muscle mass,” said Maria Cristina Foss de Freitas, last author of the article and professor at FMRP-USP.

The findings confirmed those of previous studies involving experiments on mice. “Here, however, we were able to conduct a fully controlled randomized clinical trial lasting 27 days, with a personalized menu designed to meet the needs of each patient,” said Foss de Freitas.

Manipulation of dietary macronutrients—protein, carbohydrate, and fat—is sufficient to produce the beneficial effects of dietary restriction. “We have shown that protein restriction reduces body fat while maintaining muscle mass. This is important because weight loss resulting from restrictive diets is often associated with loss of muscle mass,” Ferraz-Bannitz said.

The study did not investigate the molecular mechanisms that could explain the beneficial effects of protein-restricted diets, but the researchers believe that the low protein intake triggered a change in metabolism or improved energy management in the body, leading it to burn fat to produce energy for cells. “For now, we only have hypotheses. One is to activate molecular pathways to interpret the decrease in essential[{” attribute=””>amino acids as being a signal to reduce food intake while leading to the production of hormones that typically increase when we’re fasting,” Mori said. “Studies in animal models have shown the involvement of such pathways in the effects of both protein and calorie restriction, both of which lead to fat loss.”

Despite the promising results of their studies, the researchers point out that the diets involved were personalized. Mori also stressed that they focused on a specific population of patients with metabolic syndrome (obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and abnormal levels of cholesterol).

“Nevertheless, it’s tempting to extrapolate the results. We know research has shown vegan diets to be positive for cases of metabolic syndrome. It’s also been found that the excessive protein intake common in the standard Western diet can be a problem. Every case should be analyzed on its own merits. We shouldn’t forget protein deficiency can lead to severe health problems, as has been well-described in pregnant women, for example,” he added.

Reference: “Dietary Protein Restriction Improves Metabolic Dysfunction in Patients with Metabolic Syndrome in a Randomized, Controlled Trial” by Rafael Ferraz-Bannitz, Rebeca A. Beraldo, A. Augusto Peluso, Morten Dall, Parizad Babaei, Rayana Cardoso Foglietti, Larissa Marfori Martins, Patricia Moreira Gomes, Julio Sergio Marchini, Vivian Marques Miguel Suen, Luiz C. Conti de Freitas, Luiz Carlos Navegantes, Marco Antônio M. Pretti, Mariana Boroni, Jonas T. Treebak, Marcelo A. Mori, Milton Cesar Foss and Maria Cristina Foss-Freitas, 28 June 2022, Nutrients.
DOI: 10.3390/nu14132670

The study was funded by the São Paulo Research Foundation. The study also benefited from a FAPESP Thematic Project on strategies for mimicking the effects of dietary restriction, led by Marcelo Mori, a professor at the State University of Campinas (UNICAMP), also in Brazil.

A multidisciplinary team of scientists conducted the study, including researchers affiliated with the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, the University of São Paulo, and the National Cancer Institute (INCA) in Brazil, as well as the Obesity and Comorbidities Research Center (OCRC), a Research, Innovation, and Dissemination Center (RIDC) funded by FAPESP and hosted by UNICAMP.

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