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Essay on High Protein Diet Effects


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High Protein Diet Effects on Composition of the Body in Obese and Overweight Women and Men With or Without Exercise


According to World Health Organization, obesity has emerged as huge public health concern in this century. In addition, overweight and obesity are the leading cause of chronic illnesses like cardiovascular diseases (CVD), type II diabetes, inflammation, dyslidemia, hypertension and cancer. As body fats increase, they cause the resistance of insulin and development of cardiovascular diseases. In both developing and developed nations, the prevalence of obesity is raising at a higher rate in both adolescents and adults (CDC, 2014). Diets and exercise play the main role in reduction of weight in the body. Research notes that weight loss diets reduce approximately 5-10 percent of body weight. Moreover, studies suggest that high protein, calorie-limited diets increases the rate of weight loss. In this respect, they produce more satiety and cause reduction low-density lipoprotein. In addition, they reduce energy expenditure loss and higher thermogenesis. Studies have suggested that high protein diets for weight loss have the ability to increase lipid profile relative to various weight control groups (CDC, 2014). The purpose of this literature review is to examine the current literature as it pertains to the study of high protein diet effects on body composition of overweight and obese men and women with or without exercise.

Prevalence of Obesity and Overweight

Obesity in the United States is widespread and continues to increase. Approximately, two thirds of adult in the U.S are obese or overweight. Generally, the Hispanics and African-American women have a high rate of obesity and overweight relative to Caucasian women. However, Hispanics men have higher prevalence of obesity as compared to both Caucasian and Blacks men. The prevalence of overweight and obesity tend to increase with age. Additionally, nearly 31.5 percent of adults in the U.S. are obese and 68.5 percent are overweight. Similarly, 16.9 of adolescence and children are obese while 31.8 percent are overweight (CDC, 2014). Besides, in the United States 30.4 percent of pre-school children from low-income families are either obese or overweight. However, difference exists between socioeconomic status, geographical locations, age, gender and race-ethnicity.

Risk Factors and Complications  

There are various risk factors of obesity and overweight. Obesity is a product of consumption of diets with more calories that exceeds the body ability to burn through normal exercise. The contributing factors of obesity include family lifestyle, inactivity, age and socioeconomic problems. Firstly, family lifestyle influences the predisposition of obesity because families tend to have similar activity, lifestyles and eating habits. If a particular member of the family is overweight, there is high probability that the rest of the family will be affected. Sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of obesity. The body takes in more calories than it can burn during exercise Morenga, Williams, Brown & Mann (2010).  Unhealthy eating behaviors also lead to obesity. A diet that has insufficient vegetable and fruits but rich in calories lead to obesity. In addition, fast foods high-calories beverages, missing breakfast and oversized portions leads to weight gain. Moreover, as the age increases, there are hormonal imbalances in the body that increase the risk of the disease.

Obesity leads to various complications such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart diseases, type II diabetes and heart disease. Other health problems include cancer, poor wound healing, gallbladder diseases and gynecologic issues such as irregular periods and infertility. Ultimately, quality of life reduces because it contributes to depression, disability, social isolation and poor work performance.


Traditional Diet and Exercise Approach

Overweight and obesity can be treated using traditional exercise and diets. In the management strategies of overweight and obesity, long-term goals should be established. The loss of body weight of approximately 5-10 percent has a substantial health benefits in management of high blood pressure, diabetes and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Other goals such as smaller waist circumference, increased fitness and better mobility should be established well in advance (Layman, Evans, Baum, Seyler, Erickson, Boileau, 2005). Focusing on lifestyle changes can accomplish weight-loss success. For instance, a family may decide to use balanced energy (drinks and drinks calories) with physical activity. Additionally, an individual should focus on a healthy eating program and ways of adapting to healthy lifestyle life. Reducing the amount of calories in the body is a crucial process in obesity and overweight management. Reducing 1-2 pounds a week of calories in adults facilitate to reduction of 500 to 1000 calories per day. Research suggests that performing physical exercise helps to reduce weight in the body (Arciero et al, 2008). In addition, exercise lower the risk of cancers, diabetes, heart attack and heart diseases.

Summary of the Articles

Arciero et al, 2008 investigates the impacts of moderate protein on the composition of the body in addition to insulin sensitivity in overweight adults. The author conducted the study among twenty-four overweight men and women with a BMI of 32.2 and percentage body fat of 37.3. The study participants were aged between 31 and 59 years. They investigated the effects of moderate protein diets and high protein diets on the body composition and metabolic profile. They also introduced exercise programs to the control groups. They determined the effects on insulin insensitivity, abdominal fats, HDL-cholesterol and total cholesterol (TC).

Meckling and Sherfey (2010) carried out a study of high-protein diet with exercise and without exercise. The study participants were 60 overweight women. The researchers determined the effects of high protein with or without physical activity on weight loss, nitrogen balance, body composition, and insulin and blood pressure. They noted that there are more benefits of high protein diets with exercise as compared to those without exercise.

Wychery, Buckley, Noakes, Clifton, and Brinkworth (2012) conducted a study on the differences between high protein diets and standard-protein diets on the aerobic capacity. The study participants were 56 men aged between 45 and 53 years, with as BMI of between 33 to 37 kg/m2. They assessed the aerobic strength and capacity, body weight, muscle strength and body composition after 12 weeks. The study concluded that both standard protein and high protein diets reduce body weight and improves the body composition. Besides, similar effects were recorded in aerobic capacity and strength.

Morenga, Williums, Brown and Mann, (2010) investigated the effects of high proteins and high fiber on the body composition and risks in the body. The study participants were 89 % obese and overweight women aged between 18 and 65 years. They compared the results with standard diet on the total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and insulin.

Study by Layman, Evans, Baum, Seyler, Erickson, & Boileau, (2005) investigated the relationship between high proteins with low carbohydrates diets and compared them with low protein with high carbohydrates diets. They also studied the interactions of two diets with exercise and their effects on blood lipids and body composition. The study participants were 48 adult females with a body weight more than 140kg. They determined the effects on the serum lipids and body composition.

Moderate Diet Protein without Exercise

Protein diets play has a great impact on the management of obesity and overweight. The protein consumption in the U.S. accounts for more than 15 percent of the daily energy intake. In obese adult patients’ moderate protein intake without exercise, contribute to sustained weight loss and long-term changes in blood lipids and body composition. Arciero et al, (2008) study notes that moderate protein diet with no exercise facilitated limited reductions in total body fat, central body fat, and body mass with no reduction of lean mass (Arciero et al, 2008). Even though reductions in body weight through this treatment approach are limited, they influence metabolic changes that are likely to translate into clinical benefits. Individuals should take foods with increased protein and reduced carbohydrates. Using moderate proteins reduces cholesterol and fats that maintains the health of arteries and lowers the blood pressure at a minimum level. According to Arciero et al, 2008 moderate protein diets have sustained beneficial effects on serum triacylglycerol and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C). Morenga, Williams, Brown & Mann (2010) concurs with this study that high protein diet may increase risk of cardiovascular diseases (Morenga, Williams, Brown & Mann 2010). High protein diets have excess high saturated fat and levels of cholesterol. Therefore, moderate protein diets reduce adverse effects and minimize the weight recidivism.

High protein Diets with No Exercise

High protein diets combined with low carbohydrates and low fat produces beneficial effects on obesity and overweight. According to Meckling and Sherfey (2007), high protein diet with low carbohydrates diets and moderate fat cause better weight loss as compared to a moderate protein diet with no exercise. Their study revealed that in absence of exercise, high protein diets accomplished 2.5 kg greater weight loss relative to moderate protein diet without exercise. The level of energy restriction in this study was similar. In addition, people consuming more high protein diets lost more weight as compared to the control groups. The underlying reason behind this difference is that the high protein diets have a higher thermic effect as compared to the control groups. High protein intake is crucial in preservation of lean mass in the case of energy restrictions. Wycherley, Buckley, Noakes, Clifton, Brinkworth (2012) concurs with this study since a high protein diet with no exercise influences a higher weight loss as compared to a moderate or standardized protein intake. The proteins contribute to nitrogen balance that facilitates the lean mass losses during weight loss. Consequently, study participants experienced decreased blood pressure, which is linked to lower risk of cardiovascular diseases. Moreover, the study recorded substantial reduction in the HDL cholesterol levels. However, according to Kelly, high protein diets without exercise did not make changes in the insulin and lipids values. Nonetheless, the study groups recorded reduction in waist circumference, which is linked to decline in abdominal obesity, hence reduced risk of metabolic syndrome and insulin resistance.

Moderate Protein Diet with Exercise

Moderate protein diet with high intensity exercise is effective in enhancing body composition and improving insulin sensitivity. A study by Arciero et al, (2008) identifies that moderate proteins combined with exercise produces beneficial effects. The study participants lost substantial amounts of body fat and weight suggesting extra benefits for combining exercise and moderate proteins diets in obese patients. The study recorded significant waist circumference reduction and decrease in body fats. The decrease in abdominal fats minimizes risk of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases (Arciero et al, 2008). Furthermore, abdominal adiposity reduction enhances insulin sensitivity. Insulin-like growth factor I influences a positive nitrogen balance. In addition, it helps in physical activity such as muscle remodeling and adaptation. Meckling and Sherfey, (2007) study noted that moderate protein diets with exercise influences the production of insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) which leads to reduction in lean body mass with calorie limitations. It also causes reductions in triglycerides and high-density lipids cholesterol. The success of moderate protein with exercise requires intense physical exercise that enhances satiety (Meckling and Sherfey, 2007). Consequently, it increases the central nervous system leptin sensitivity.

High protein diets with exercise

Higher protein diets and minimum carbohydrates if to combine it with exercise enhance body composition during weight loss. According to Arciero et al (2008), exercise during weight reduction is crucial because it catalyzes loss of fat mass and preserves lean mass. However, the effects depend on the intensity of the exercise, frequency of exercise per day and potential of weight loss. Regular exercise and high protein increase HDL cholesterol but decrease the concentration of triacylglycerol (TAG) in the blood. Leyman analyzed the interactions of high protein diets and exercise on blood lipids level and changes in body composition. Wycherley, Buckley, Noakes, Clifton, Brinkworth. (2012), study noted that a group using high protein and low carbohydrates diets combined with exercise resulted to greatest loss of body weight. Indeed, changes in body fat and body weight indicated differences in metabolism between the diets due to energy intake and energy utilization.

When the key component of exercise is not present during weight loss it leads to least change in body fat and minimum change in minimum lean mass (Wycherley, Buckley, Noakes, Clifton, Brinkworth, 2012). The study revealed that the body requires more than 30 min per day exercise during weight loss. According to Layman, changes in hormones produced decline in body fat mass. In this respect, leptin decreased following weight loss while ghrelin increased. Furthermore, adiponectin produced exercise-specific effects.  Weight reduction process increased adiponectin in diabetics and obese patients. A study by Arciero et al (2008) support that high protein diets with exercise reduce LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol in the body. In addition, there was higher reduction of triglycerides and increase in HDL-cholesterol if to compare with the control with high protein diets without exercise. The study revealed that insulin and blood lipids values were within balanced ranges. Therefore, this dietary approach improved body composition and lipids levels.

Adverse Effects of High Protein

Consumption of high protein especially from animals such as red meat causes hypertension, bone loss and insulin resistance. The protein source is a crucial factor hence mixture of animal and plants protein has important effects. High protein diets cause less lean mass body loss and increases the risk of other illnesses. In case of poor management, the diets can lead to increase in body weights.

Beneficial Effects of High protein diets

In fact, there exist various beneficial effects of high protein diets such as reduced abdominal fats. It also helps in mitigating the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes. Overweight and obese patients reduce LDL cholesterol and total cholesterol. It also improves insulin sensitivity.


Obesity is the leading cause of chronic illnesses such as type 2 diabetes, inflammation, cardiovascular diseases (CVD), dyslidemia, hypertension and cancer. High protein diets play a crucial role in management of obesity. Moderate protein without exercise helps reduce body fats at minimum levels. However, high protein with no exercises produces better effects as compared to the moderate protein diets without exercise. It leads to better body composition and reduces weight. Moderate protein diets with exercise produces better effects in the body such as increasing insulin sensitivity and increase the levels of HDL cholesterol. However, the success depends on the intensity of the exercise. High protein diets with exercise produces the greatest effects in the body composition and weight loss. It produces HDL cholesterol and reduces the levels of triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. In addition, it reduces the abdominal fats that facilitate improvement of insulin sensitivity.


Arciero P.J., Gentile C.L., Pressman R., Everett M., Ormsbee M.J., Martin J., Santamore              J., Gorman L., Fehling P.C, Vukovich MD, Nindl B.C. (2008). Moderate Protein Intake Improves Total and Regional Body Composition and Insulin Sensitivity in Overweight Adults. Metabolism Clinical and Experimental, 57, 757-765.

CDC,. (2014). Retrieved 10 November 2014, from

Layman, D. K., Evans, E., Baum, J. I., Seyler, J., Erickson, D. J., & Boileau, R. A. (2005). Dietary protein and exercise have additive effects on body composition during weight loss in adult women. The Journal of nutrition, 135(8), 1903-1910.

Meckling, K.A. & Sherfey, R. (2007, June 22). A Randomized Trial of a Hypocaloric High-protein Diet with and without Exercise, on Weight Loss, Fitness, and Markers of the Metabolic Syndrome in Overweight and Obese Women. Applied Physiological Nursing Metabolism, 32, 743-752.

Morenga, L., Williams, S., Brown, R., & Mann, J. (2010). Effect of a relatively high-protein, high-fiber diet on body composition and metabolic risk factors in overweight women. European journal of clinical nutrition, 64(11), 1323-1331.

Wycherley, T. P., Buckley, J. D., Noakes, M., Clifton, P. M., & Brinkworth, G. D. (2013). Comparison of the effects of weight loss from a high-protein versus standard-protein energy-restricted diet on strength and aerobic capacity in overweight and obese men. European journal of nutrition, 52(1), 317-325.