Protein Restriction in Metabolic Health: Lessons from Rodent Models

Khuhee Na, Yoon Jung Park

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Consumption of protein-rich diets and supplements has been increasingly advocated by individuals seeking to optimize metabolic health and mitigate the effects of aging. Protein intake is postulated to support muscle mass retention and enhance longevity, underscoring its perceived benefits in age-related metabolic regulation. However, emerging evidence presents a paradox; while moderate protein consumption contributes to health maintenance, an excessive intake is associated with an elevated risk of chronic diseases, notably obesity and diabetes. Furthermore, recent studies suggest that reducing the ratio of protein intake to macronutrients improves metabolic parameters and extends lifespan. The aim of this study is to review the current evidence concerning the metabolic effects of protein-restricted diets and their potential mechanisms. Utilizing rodent models, investigations have revealed that protein-restricted diets exert a notable influence over food intake and energy consumption, ultimately leading to body weight loss, depending on the degree of dietary protein restriction. These phenotypic alterations are primarily mediated by the FGF21 signaling pathway, whose activation is likely regulated by ATF4 and the circadian clock. The evidence suggests that protein-restricted diets as an alternative approach to calorie-restricted regimes, particularly in overweight or obese adults. However, more research is needed to determine the optimal level of restriction, duration, and long-term effects of such interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number229
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 by the authors.


  • FGF21
  • circadian clock
  • circadian rhythm
  • macronutrients
  • protein restriction


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