Cao JJ, Pasiakos SM, Margolis LM, Sauter ER, Whigham LD, Mcclung JP, Young AJ, Combs GF, Jr. - 44914 N - Am J Clin Nutr 2014 ; in press.

Calcium homeostasis and bone metabolic responses to high-protein diets during energy deficit in healthy young adults: a randomized control trial

BACKGROUND: Although consuming dietary protein above current recommendations during energy deficit (ED) preserves lean body mass, concerns have been raised regarding the effects of high-protein diets on bone health.

OBJECTIVE: The objective was to determine whether calcium homeostasis and bone turnover are affected by high-protein diets during weight maintenance (WM) and ED. DESIGN: A randomized, parallel-design, controlled trial of 32 men and 7 women were assigned diets providing protein at 0.8 [Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)], 1.6 (2 x RDA), or 2.4 (3 x RDA) g kg-1 d-1 for 31 d. Ten days of WM preceded 21 d of ED, during which total daily ED was 40%, achieved by reduced dietary energy intake ( approximately 30%) and increased physical activity ( approximately 10%). The macronutrient composition (protein g kg-1 d-1 and % fat) was held constant from WM to ED. Calcium absorption (ratio of 44Ca to 42Ca) and circulating indices of bone turnover were determined at day 8 (WM) and day 29 (ED).

RESULTS: Regardless of energy state, mean (+/-SEM) urinary pH was lower (P < 0.05) at 2 x RDA (6.28 +/- 0.05) and 3 x RDA (6.23 +/- 0.06) than at the RDA (6.54 +/- 0.06). However, protein had no effect on either urinary calcium excretion (P > 0.05) or the amount of calcium retained (P > 0.05). ED decreased serum insulin-like growth factor I, increased serum tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase, and 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations (P < 0.01). Remaining markers of bone turnover and whole-body bone mineral density and content were not affected by either the protein level or ED (P > 0.05).

CONCLUSION: These data demonstrate that short-term consumption of high-protein diets does not disrupt calcium homeostasis and is not detrimental to skeletal integrity. This trial was registered at as NCT01292395.