Dieters sometimes consume extra protein to stave off hunger and prevent loss of muscle tissue that often comes with weight loss.
But in a study of 34 postmenopausal women with obesity, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found that eating too much protein eliminates an important health benefit of weight loss: improvement in insulin sensitivity, which is critical to lowering diabetes risk.
The findings are available Oct. 11 in the journal Cell Reports.
“We found that women who lost weight eating a high-protein diet didn’t experience any improvements in insulin sensitivity,” said principal investigator Bettina Mittendorfer, PhD, a professor of medicine. “However, women who lost weight while eating less protein were significantly more sensitive to insulin at the conclusion of the study. That’s important because in many overweight and obese people, insulin does not effectively control blood-sugar levels, and eventually the result is type 2 diabetes.”
Insulin sensitivity is a good marker of metabolic health, one that typically improves with weight loss. In fact, the women in the study who lost weight while consuming less protein experienced a 25 to 30 percent improvement in their sensitivity to insulin.
The featured article was originally published at Washington University’s News: High-protein diet curbs metabolic benefits of weight loss