Protein consumption was found to make test subjects feel more full, leading to less food intake. Photo by dbreen/Pixabay
BRIGHTON, England, Nov. 8 (UPI) -- Scientists say they have found the mechanism by which a high-protein diet promotes weight loss.
Scientists at Imperial College London found that phenylalanine, a common end-product of digested protein, triggers hormones in rodents to make them feel less hungry, leading to weight loss.
The study builds on previous scholarship that demonstrated such diets encourage people to feel fuller, and therefore eat less. In their recent experiment using a rodent model, scientists discovered phenylalanine interacts with a calcium sensing receptor, or CaSR, to decrease appetite. Their paper was presented at the annual Society for Endocrinology conference in Brighton.
"Our work is the first to demonstrate that activating CaSR can suppress appetite," lead author Mariana Norton said in a press release. "It highlights the potential use of phenylalanine or other molecules which stimulate CaSR – like drugs or food components – to prevent or treat obesity."
The experiment tested the effects of phenylalanine on both mice and rats. During the first trial, 10 rats and mice were administered a single dose. The process was repeated with a second group of diet-induced obese mice. Both results were compared with a control group that did not receive any phenylalanine.
A single dose of phenylalanine was found to significantly reduce food consumption, and also resulted in weight loss for the obese group of mice.
The research team concedes there may be other factors in play, and plan to examine if the same effects can be observed in humans in the future.