How protein restriction can reduce metabolic syndrome

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Metabolic syndrome is a collective term for a series of conditions including hypertension, high blood sugar, abnormal cholesterol levels, and excess body fat around the waist, which significantly elevate the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and diabetes.

A collaborative study from Brazil and Denmark by Rafael Ferraz-Bannitz and his team, published in the journal Nutrients, explores the benefits of protein restriction in controlling metabolic syndrome and its major symptoms such as obesity, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

Metabolic Syndrome – A Multifaceted Challenge

Metabolic syndrome creates a complex health scenario, contributing to multiple health risks including diabetes, stroke, and cardiovascular diseases.

Understanding and managing the components of metabolic syndrome are crucial in reducing the subsequent health risks associated with it.

The Role of Protein Intake

The study revealed that reducing protein intake to 0.8 g per kg of body weight can induce clinical benefits akin to calorie restriction, without the necessity to cut down calorie intake.

This implies that protein restriction could be a pivotal factor contributing to the benefits generally observed with dietary restriction, presenting a potentially more feasible dietary strategy for individuals with metabolic syndrome.

Study Insights and Methodology

21 volunteers with metabolic syndrome participated in the 27-day study, during which they were segmented into two dietary groups—one receiving a standard Western diet with a 25% calorie reduction and the other with a 10% protein intake tailored to the individual’s baseline energy expenditure, both with equivalent salt consumption.

The study manifested that both groups experienced weight loss due to a decrease in body fat and exhibited improvement in metabolic syndrome symptoms.

Proteins and Body Composition

One noteworthy observation was that protein restriction led to the reduction of body fat while preserving muscle mass, addressing a common concern regarding muscle mass loss in restrictive diets.

The team emphasized the versatility in manipulating dietary macronutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, and fats to obtain the beneficial effects generally associated with dietary restriction.

Considerations and Limitations

Although the outcomes of the study are promising, it’s pivotal to note that the diets were personalized and focused primarily on a specific population—individuals with metabolic syndrome depicting symptoms like obesity, diabetes, and abnormal cholesterol levels. Further research and considerations are necessary to generalize these findings.


The research by Rafael Ferraz-Bannitz et al. offers intriguing insights into the role of protein intake in the management of metabolic syndrome, suggesting that a protein-restricted diet can potentially emulate the benefits of a calorie-restricted diet, without necessitating a reduction in calorie intake.

This approach could provide an alternative, perhaps more manageable, nutritional strategy for individuals struggling with metabolic syndrome.

However, the specificity of the studied population and the personalized nature of the diets used necessitate cautious interpretation and application of the findings, beckoning further exploration in diversified populations.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies about high vitamin D level linked to lower dementia risk in diabetes, and this eating habit could help reduce risk of type 2 diabetes.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about unhealthy plant-based diets linked to metabolic syndrome, and results showing Paleo diet plus exercise could boost heart health in people with diabetes

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