A High-Whey-Protein Diet Reduces Body Weight Gain and Alters Insulin Sensitivity Relative to Red Meat in Wistar Rats1,2

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Abstract

A high-protein diet can reduce body weight and increase insulin sensitivity, but whether the type of dietary protein affects these outcomes is unknown. We hypothesized that feeding insulin-resistant rats a high-protein diet (32%) containing whey protein concentrate (WPC) would reduce body weight and tissue lipid levels and increase insulin sensitivity more than a diet containing red meat (RM). Rats were fed a high-fat diet (300 g fat/kg diet) for 9 wk, then switched to a diet containing either 80 or 320 g protein/kg diet, provided by either WPC or RM, for 6 wk (n = 8). The rats were then killed after overnight food deprivation. High dietary protein reduced energy intake (P < 0.001) and visceral (P < 0.001), subcutaneous (P < 0.001), and carcass fat (P < 0.05). Increasing the dietary density of WPC, but not of RM, reduced body weight gain by 4% (P < 0.001). Dietary WPC also reduced plasma insulin concentration by 40% (P < 0.05) and increased insulin sensitivity, compared to RM (P < 0.05). These findings support the conclusions that a high-protein diet reduces energy intake and adiposity and that whey protein is more effective than red meat in reducing body weight gain and increasing insulin sensitivity. J. Nutr. 134: 1454-1458, 2004.

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