Higher Protein Intake Improves Cardiometabolic Risk


According to a research paper published in the Journal of Nutritional, “Diets that promote protein intake above the RDA [0.8 g/kg body weight (BW)] are extremely popular. Studies have demonstrated that higher-protein diets promote healthy weight management and spare lean body mass during weight loss. Increasing dietary protein intake at the expense of carbohydrate may also lower cardiometabolic risk (a cluster of risk factors that increase risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease), because diets higher in protein and lower in carbohydrate appear to reduce blood pressure and improve glycemic regulation and blood lipid profiles.”

 The research also stated that,“The cardiometabolic benefits of higher- protein diets are often greater than or equal to those observed when consuming lower-fat, higher-carbohydrate diets consistent with the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans and recommendations of the AHA. However, most of the studies reporting benefits of higher-protein diets were conducted in overweight and obese adults during well-controlled weight loss interventions. Whether these findings apply to free-living adults habitually consuming higher- protein diets independent of body size, total energy, and macro- nutrient intake has not been established.”

 The paper went on to say that, “Despite evidence from clinical trials suggesting that higher- protein diets may lower cardiometabolic risk, concerns exist regarding the potential long-term adverse health effects of habitually consuming high protein diets, and precisely what level of protein intake results in optimal health remains controversial.”

Additionally, “Prospective studies have suggested that consuming dietary protein at upper levels of the acceptable macronutrient distribution range (10–35% total energy intake) may increase cardiometabolic risk and all-cause mortality.”

The researchers hypothesized that, “Higher-protein diets would be associated with biomarkers suggestive of reduced cardiometabolic risk, and that the effects of dietary protein would be more pronounced in overweight and obese adults than in normal weight adults.

“The study population consisted of 23,876 adults (>/= $19 y of age) who completed a 24-h dietary recall in ‘‘What We Eat in America,’’ the dietary interview component of the NHANES, 2001–2010. Analyses included only individuals with complete and reliable dietary records as determined by the National Center for Health Statistics staff.”

 Cardiometabolic risk factors checked:

BMI, waist circumference, blood pressure (diastolic and systolic), fasting serum TGs, total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, blood glucose, and insulin concen- trations were obtained from examination and laboratory files.

Major Findings:

“The major findings from this prospective, cross-sectional study are the following: 1) Americans habitually consume protein in excess of the RDA; and 2) higher-protein diets are associated with lower BMI, waist circumference, and higher HDL cholesterol. The potential health effects of higher-protein diets appear to be more pronounced in overweight individuals than normal weight and obese individuals.”

“Although our study was cross-sectional, our findings strongly suggest that consuming protein well above the RDA (1.0–1.5 g/kg BW) is safe and may be considered a valid nutritional strategy to improve cardiometabolic health.”

Interested in reading more? Check out Building Immunity with Whey Protein