Scientists Decode How Eating Proteins Aids Weight-Loss

Presently, losing weight has become the goal for many people across the globe. People now engage in activities including physical activity, and being conscious of what goes into their bodies, because they want to lose weight. This is good because being overweight can be linked to some health conditions like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancer types – even the World Health Organization states that obesity is the fifth leading cause of death globally.A Weight Scale

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It has been known from past studies that eating proteins helps to repress one’s appetite and increases the urge to make movements. Proteins are made up of tiny units of amino acids which are of 21 different types and are classified based on the body’s ability to produce them on its own. The amino acids which can easily be produced by the body are known as non-essential amino acids; those which the body cannot self-produce but depends on the food we take to make them, are known as essential amino acids, and both classes of amino acids have been known to suppress appetite.

This fact has been known about proteins, however, since it is known that there are two broad classes of the building blocks of these macromolecules that are involved in reducing appetite and inducing movement, the question was how they initiated these processes. Scientists have been researching this lately, and thanks to the researchers at ETH Zurich, the answer to these questions have been uncovered.

What they discovered

The research team led by Denis Burdakov was able to find out how the non-essential amino acids were able to do this – their discovery was the first to reveal this process. They found out that this class of amino acids can act on the brain in a way that resulted in reduced appetite and increased physical activity.

They carried out experiments using mice as the specimen. They divided the mice into two groups: the first, they made them take various non-essential amino acids, and the second, sugar solution containing calories of the same amount as the acids (this second group served as a control group). Afterward, they made milkshakes (since mice love them) available to both groups and observed their responses. They noticed that the second group heartily drank their milkshake quite well, while the first group did not, instead, they moved in search of something else to drink.

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How did the brain influence this?

Going further with the experiments, they were able to find out how the brain influences this response, and which nerve cell played the major role.

Observing what happens in the body of the mice when they took in these non-essential amino acids, they noticed that: in the gut, proteins are broken down to release these acids which then make their way into the bloodstream, and travel to the brain.

In the brain, specialized neurons – orexin neurons (which bear the receptors that identify the amino acids) – located in the hypothalamus, initiate a series of activities to occur within the brain, in turn resulting in the response observed in the first group of mice. The researchers say that the results are the same for humans.

Clinical significance

Maintaining a healthy weight keeps one free from many health issues. The above discovery showed that proteins are indeed helpful to aid weight loss since they (particularly the non-essentials) stimulate the brain to make one lose appetite and want to indulge in physical activity, which are the two key means to lose weight faster.

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Denis Burdakov and his team have revealed the mechanism of the connection between proteins and weight loss. Now, the specific proteins which stimulate the brain to initiate the process have been uncovered.


Ingested non-essential amino acids recruit brain orexin cells to suppress eating in mice



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