A low-protein high-fat diet leads to loss of body weight and white adipose tissue weight via enhancing energy expenditure in mice

Yifeng Rang, Sihui Ma, Jiao Yang, Huan Liu, Katsuhiko Suzuki*, Chunhong Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Obesity has become a worldwide health problem over the past three decades. During obesity, metabolic dysfunction of white adipose tissue (WAT) is a key factor increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes. A variety of diet approaches have been proposed for the prevention and treatment of obesity. The low-protein high-fat diet (LPHF) is a special kind of high-fat diet, characterized by the intake of a low amount of protein, while compared to typical high-fat diet, may induce weight loss and browning of WAT. Physical activity is another effective intervention to treat obesity by reducing WAT mass, inducing browning of WAT. In order to determine whether an LPHF, along with exercise enhanced body weight loss and body fat loss as well as the synergistic effect of an LPHF and exercise on energy expenditure in a mice model, we combined a 10-week LPHF with an 8-week forced treadmill training. Meanwhile, a traditional high-fat diet (HPHF) containing the same fat and relatively more protein was introduced as a comparison. In the current study, we further analyzed energy metabolism-related gene expression, plasma biomarkers, and related physiological changes. When comparing to HPHF, which induced a dramatic increase in body weight and WAT weight, the LPHF led to considerable loss of body weight and WAT, without muscle mass and strength decline, while it exhibited a risk of liver and pancreas damage. The mechanism underlying the LPHF-induced loss of body weight and WAT may be attributed to the synergistically upregulated expression of Ucp1 in WAT and Fgf21 in the liver, which may enhance energy expenditure. The 8-week training did not further enhance weight loss and increased plasma biomarkers of muscle damage when combined with LPHF. Furthermore, LPHF reduced the expression of fatty acid oxidation-related genes in adipose tissues, muscle tissues, and liver. Our results indicated that an LPHF has potential for obesity treatment, while the physiological condition should be monitored during application.

Original languageEnglish
Article number301
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2021 May


  • Energy expenditure
  • Fatty acid oxidation
  • Low-protein high-fat diet
  • Obesity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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