A new study suggests that high-protein diets could alleviate the growing obesity epidemic around the world.
Although various studies in the past have already indicated that high-protein diets could help lose weight scientists now believe they have found exactly how to successfully shed weight.
British researchers recently conducted tests on both mice and rats. They gave mice and rats a single dose of a chemical called phenylalanine which is produced in the gut when protein-rich foods such as beef, fish, milk and eggs are broken down. The scientists also put diet-induced obese mice, frequently used as a model of human obesity, on a week-long course of phenylalanine. Both experiments compared their results to the same number of rodents that were not given phenylalanine.
The research team observed weight loss in the obese mice as a result of phenylalanine interacting with a calcium sending receptor called CaSR. The mice started eating less and losing weight.
“Our work is the first to demonstrate that activating CaSR can suppress appetite,” said lead author of the study Mariana Norton. “It highlights the potential use of phenylalanine or other molecules which stimulate CaSR — like drugs or food components — to prevent or treat obesity.”
It was found that mice and rats given phenylalanine showed increased levels of the hormone GLP-1, which suppresses appetite, but reduced levels of the hormone ghrelin, which increases hunger. Norton presented the findings of the study at the Society of Endocrinology’s annual meeting in the United Kingdom.
Norton and her colleagues are excited about the possibility of new preventive and treatment strategies for obesity as part of ongoing research on new ways to curb hunger and aid weight loss. They acknowledged that future experiments, this time in humans, are needed to pinpoint the exact mechanisms by which phenylalanine could be administered.