(HealthDay News) — A high-protein diet may backfire for people at risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), thereby increasing the likelihood of weight gain and early mortality, new research presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Prague suggests. 

The researchers analyzed data from a government-funded trial of more than 7,000 men and women. 

Participants, all aged 55 years and older without CVD, filled out food questionnaires that assessed protein consumption for roughly 5 years. All had either type 2 diabetes or three or more of these risk factors: smoking, hypertension, dyslipidemia, overweight or obesity, or a family history of premature heart disease.

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When protein replaced carbohydrates, the eating plan was linked to a 90% greater risk for gaining more than 10% of body weight (HR=1.90; 95% CI, 1.05-3.46). It was also linked to a 59% higher all-cause mortality risk (HR=1.59; 95% CI, 1.08-2.35), the researchers found. 

When protein replaced fat, mortality risk increased 66% (HR=1.66; 95%CI, 1.13-2.43), the researchers said.

“These results do not support the generalized use of high-protein diets as a good strategy for losing weight,” lead researcher Monica Bullo, PhD, of the Pere Virgili Health Research Institute in Reus, Spain, told HealthDay. “Long-term efficacy and safety of these diets deserve more attention.”


  1. Hernández-Alonso P et al. AbstractT3:OS2.1. Presented at: European Congress of Obesity; May 6-9, 2015; Prague, Czech Republic.