Protein balance during very-low-calorie diets for the treatment of severe obesity.Ann Nutr Metab. 1987; 31(3):154-9.AN
Very-low-calorie diets (less than 500 kcal/day; VLCD) are widely used for the treatment of severe obesity. We report the effects of such diets, consisting of proteins only or proteins and carbohydrates (CH), on nitrogen balance and protein nutritional status of morbidly obese patients. Cumulative nitrogen loss, serum albumin, transferrin, prealbumin (PA) and retinol-binding protein (RBP) concentrations, and plasma amino acid profile were determined in two groups of obese patients: 5 subjects (3 women, 2 men: BMI 55.3 +/- 2.2 kg/m2) subjected for 4 weeks to a protein VLCD (40 g protein + 2 g fat) and 7 others (4 women, 3 men: BMI 45.6 +/- 2.8 kg/m2) received for the same length of time a protein + CH VLCD (34 g protein + 26 g CH). Nitrogen balance was determined weekly whilst plasma and serum variables were measured on days 0, 3, 5, 10, 20 and 28 of treatment. Nitrogen balance did not significantly differ between the two groups of patients throughout the treatment. Serum PA and RBP concentrations decreased from day 5 and day 10, respectively, in both groups. Plasma amino acids showed a similar pattern in the protein and protein + CH groups. Alanine gradually decreased below baseline values; after a peak value on day 5, branched-chain amino acids (valine, leucine, isoleucine) returned to baseline values in both groups. In conclusion, in severely obese patients subjected to VLCD, nitrogen balance, labile protein concentrations and plasma amino acid profile are not significantly affected by adding CH to proteins.