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Comparison of high protein and high fiber weight-loss diets in women with risk factors for the metabolic syndrome: a randomized trial

Lisa A Te Morenga14*, Megan T Levers14, Sheila M Williams2, Rachel C Brown1 and Jim Mann134

Author affiliations

1 Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand

2 Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand

3 Edgar National Centre for Diabetes Research, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand

4 Riddet Institute, Private Bag 11 222, Palmerston North 4442, New Zealand

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Citation and License

Nutrition Journal 2011, 10:40  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-10-40

Published: 28 April 2011

Abstract

Background

Studies have suggested that moderately high protein diets may be more appropriate than conventional low-fat high carbohydrate diets for individuals at risk of developing the metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. However in most such studies sources of dietary carbohydrate may not have been appropriate and protein intakes may have been excessively high. Thus, in a proof-of-concept study we compared two relatively low-fat weight loss diets - one high in protein and the other high in fiber-rich, minimally processed cereals and legumes - to determine whether a relatively high protein diet has the potential to confer greater benefits.

Methods

Eighty-three overweight or obese women, 18-65 years, were randomized to either a moderately high protein (30% protein, 40% carbohydrate) diet (HP) or to a high fiber, relatively high carbohydrate (50% carbohydrate, > 35 g total dietary fiber, 20% protein) diet (HFib) for 8 weeks. Energy intakes were reduced by 2000 - 4000 kJ per day in order to achieve weight loss of between 0.5 and 1 kg per week.

Results

Participants on both diets lost weight (HP: -4.5 kg [95% confidence interval (CI):-3.7, -5.4 kg] and HFib: -3.3 kg [95% CI: -4.2, -2.4 kg]), and reduced total body fat (HP: -4.0 kg [5% CI:-4.6, -3.4 kg] and HFib: -2.5 kg [95% CI: -3.5, -1.6 kg]), and waist circumference (HP: -5.4 cm [95% CI: -6.3, -4.5 cm] and HFib: -4.7 cm [95% CI: -5.8, -3.6 cm]), as well as total and LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting plasma glucose and blood pressure. However participants on HP lost more body weight (-1.3 kg [95% CI: -2.5, -0.1 kg; p = 0.039]) and total body fat (-1.3 kg [95% CI: -2.4, -0.1; p = 0.029]). Diastolic blood pressure decreased more on HP (-3.7 mm Hg [95% CI: -6.2, -1.1; p = 0.005]).

Conclusions

A realistic high protein weight-reducing diet was associated with greater fat loss and lower blood pressure when compared with a high carbohydrate, high fiber diet in high risk overweight and obese women.