High protein diet: a better way to lose weight

The scientific community can understand better the mechanisms when it comes to hormones and weight loss

High protein diet: a better way to lose weight 

Leer en Español: Dieta rica en proteína: la mejor forma de perder peso

A research published in the Society for Endocrinology in the United Kingdom showed that the phenylalanine, found in proteins, trigger hormones that makes one feel less hungry, which may lead to weight loss. The study released during the annual conference in Brighton suggests new understanding of the mechanism by which protein diets "cause weight loss and could lead to the development of drugs and diets that tackle the growing obesity epidemic" in the world.

According to the study, hormones drive our appetite "by telling us when we are hungry and when we are full". Ghrelin is the hormone that tells the body when to eat. In contrast the hormone GLP-1, that in high levels, produces the feeling of fullness. The study said that understanding the hormones' effect on the human feeding patterns may help identifying new ways of treating or preventing obesity.

Society of Endocrinology: In the past, studies have shown that protein-rich diets encourage weight loss by making people feel fuller, but now the scientific community can understand better the mechanisms.

The research was conducted by Mariana Norton and Amin Alamshah from Imperial College in London. The group ran a number of experiments on both mice and rats giving them rectal and oral administration of L-phenylalanine. "In the first experiment, they gave 10 rats and mice a single dose of phenylalanine, a chemical produced in the gut when our boy breaks down protein-rich products (...) in the second experiment, diet-induced obese mice, which are typically used as a model of human obesity, were given phenylalanine repeatedly over seven days".

Results showed that a single dose of phenylalanine reduced food intake.

The researchers found in both experiments that a single-dose of phenylalanine reduced food intake, increased levels of GLP-1, and decreased levels of ghrelin. On the other side, the repeated administration also caused weight loss in obese mice.

The research group also observed the gut cells in a petri dish. They found that when phenylalanine interacts with the calcium sensing receptor (CaSR), it increases the GLP-1 levels, and makes appetite decrease.

High protein levels diets includes beef, fish, pork, grains, seeds, mixed nuts, tofu, milk, cheese and eggs.

Maria Norton, co-author of the research said that this work "is the first to demonstrate that activating CaSR can suppress appetite (...) It highlights the potential use of phenylalanine or other molecules which stimulate CaSR - like drugs or food components- to prevent or treat obesity".

The experiment also showed that the oral administration of phenylalanine had a significantly lower gastric inhibitory peptide (GIP) plasma levels.

According to the study, "the researcher's next steps will be to establish whether phenylalanine can produce the same effects in humans as in mice, and to further conform the importance of CaSR in our response to protein-rich foods". Also it is important to determine the role of the CaSR and phenylalanine in glucose homeostasis.

 

Latin American Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto

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