Decreased Consumption of Branched-Chain Amino Acids Improves Metabolic Health

Luigi Fontana, Nicole E. Cummings, Sebastian I. Arriola Apelo, Joshua C. Neuman, Ildiko Kasza, Brian A. Schmidt, Edda Cava, Francesco Spelta, Valeria Tosti, Faizan A. Syed, Emma L. Baar, Nicola Veronese, Sara E. Cottrell, Rachel J. Fenske, Beatrice Bertozzi, Harpreet K. Brar, Terri Pietka, Arnold D. Bullock, Robert S. Figenshau, Gerald L. AndrioleMatthew J. Merrins, Caroline M. Alexander, Michelle E. Kimple, Dudley W. Lamming

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

278 Scopus citations


Protein-restricted (PR), high-carbohydrate diets improve metabolic health in rodents, yet the precise dietary components that are responsible for these effects have not been identified. Furthermore, the applicability of these studies to humans is unclear. Here, we demonstrate in a randomized controlled trial that a moderate PR diet also improves markers of metabolic health in humans. Intriguingly, we find that feeding mice a diet specifically reduced in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) is sufficient to improve glucose tolerance and body composition equivalently to a PR diet via metabolically distinct pathways. Our results highlight a critical role for dietary quality at the level of amino acids in the maintenance of metabolic health and suggest that diets specifically reduced in BCAAs, or pharmacological interventions in this pathway, may offer a translatable way to achieve many of the metabolic benefits of a PR diet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)520-530
Number of pages11
JournalCell Reports
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 12 2016


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