This study examined the effects of different food sources of protein on energy intake, body weight maintenance, and on the responses of plasma leptin, insulin and adiponectin in chronic high-fat diet-induced obese mice. Obesity was induced in 47 mice with a high-fat diet for 20 weeks. They were divided into five diet groups to test the effects of a higher protein proportion (30% energy), achieved at the expense of carbohydrate. For the next eight weeks, four of the groups were fed diets of chow formulated with whey, soy, red meat or milk while the control group continued on their high-fat diet. The results showed that: (i) increasing the protein : carbohydrate ratio (both at 30% energy) in a high-fat diet did not reduce the level of obesity; (ii) the type of protein added, however, did have a significant effect on the level of obesity attained; (iii) whey protein stabilised weight gain the most, had the strongest satiety effects and also stimulated the highest production of adiponectin; and (iv) whey protein also was associated with the lowest insulin values among all proteins tested. Plasma leptin levels were not affected by any of the diets. Dietary fat remains a potent factor in weight management, but the type and amount of protein may also be important through its effects on food intake. In particular, the apparent decreased appetite associated with increased adiponectin in the whey-based high-protein diet may contribute to stabilised body mass in chronic high-fat diet-induced obesity.
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