The purpose of this pilot study was to begin to examine the effect of dietary protein source (soy protein versus non-soy protein) during weight loss on body composition, and cardiometabolic and functional decline risk factors in older, abdominally obese adults.
Two-arm, single-blind, randomized, controlled trial.
Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem NC 27157, USA.
25 older (68.4±5.5 years, 88% female), abdominally obese (BMI: 35.1±4.3 kg/m2; WC: 101.4±13.1 cm) men and women were randomized to participate in the study.
A 12-week weight loss intervention, with participants randomized to consume soy protein-based meal replacements (S; n=12) or non-soy protein-based meal replacements (NS; n=12), in addition to prepared meals, and all participants targeted to receive an individualized caloric deficit of 500 kcal/day.
Body weight and composition (assessed via DXA and CT), conventional biomarkers of cardiometabolic risk, and physical performance measures were assessed pre- and post-intervention. Additional endpoints of feasibility (accrual, participation, retention, compliance, and safety) are reported.
A total of 24 participants (87% female) completed the study (96% retention) and lost an average of 7.8±3.0 kg over the 12-week period, with no difference seen between groups (p=0.83). Although nearly all measures of global and regional body composition were significantly reduced following the 12-week intervention, differences were not observed between groups. Among cardiometabolic risk factors and physical performance measures, only diastolic blood pressure was significantly lower in the NS group compared to the S group (66.7±2.7 mmHg vs 73.5±2.7 mmHg, respectively; p=0.04). Interestingly, in groups combined, despite significant reductions in body weight and lean mass, no significant changes in 400-meter walk time (+5.3±43.4 s), short physical performance battery score (+0.1±1.0), grip strength (−0.3±3.2 kg), or relative knee extensor strength (−0.0±0.0 N/m/cm3 thigh muscle volume) were observed.
Data presented here suggest that a 12-week weight loss intervention, which incorporates S and NS meal replacement products, is associated with clinically significant weight loss and improvements in several parameters of cardiometabolic risk and unchanged physical function and strength. Results do not differ by protein source and suggest that soy protein is at least as good as other protein sources for weight loss during low-calorie dietary interventions in older adults.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Zamboni M, Mazzali G, Zoico E, Harris TB, Meigs JB, Di F, V, Fantin F, Bissoli L, Bosello O. Health consequences of obesity in the elderly: a review of four unresolved questions. Int.J.Obes.(Lond) 2005 Sep;29(9):1011–29
Mahabadi AA, Massaro JM, Rosito GA, Levy D, Murabito JM, Wolf PA, O’Donnell CJ, Fox CS, Hoffmann U. Association of pericardial fat, intrathoracic fat, and visceral abdominal fat with cardiovascular disease burden: the Framingham Heart Study. Eur.Heart J. 2009 Apr;30(7):850–6
Lara-Castro C, Garvey WT. Intracellular lipid accumulation in liver and muscle and the insulin resistance syndrome. Endocrinol.Metab Clin.North Am. 2008 Dec;37(4):841–56.
Visser M, Kritchevsky SB, Goodpaster BH, Newman AB, Nevitt M, Stamm E, Harris TB. Leg muscle mass and composition in relation to lower extremity performance in men and women aged 70 to 79: the health, aging and body composition study. J.Am.Geriatr.Soc. 2002 May;50(5):897–904
Beavers KM, Beavers DP, Houston DK, Harris TB, Hue TF, Koster A, Newman AB, Simonsick EM, Studenski SA, Nicklas BJ, et al. Associations between body composition and gait-speed decline: results from the Health, Aging, and Body Composition study. Am.J.Clin.Nutr. 2013 Mar;97(3):552–60.
Kim MK, Tanaka K, Kim MJ, Matuso T, Endo T, Tomita T, Maeda S, Ajisaka R. Comparison of epicardial, abdominal and regional fat compartments in response to weight loss. Nutr.Metab Cardiovasc.Dis. 2009 Dec;19(11):760–6
Larson-Meyer DE, Heilbronn LK, Redman LM, Newcomer BR, Frisard MI, Anton S, Smith SR, Alfonso A, Ravussin E. Effect of calorie restriction with or without exercise on insulin sensitivity, beta-cell function, fat cell size, and ectopic lipid in overweight subjects. Diabetes Care 2006 Jun;29(6):1337–44.
Waters DL, Ward AL, Villareal DT. Weight loss in obese adults 65years and older: A review of the controversy. Exp.Gerontol. 2013 Feb 10
Messina MJ, Lane B. Soy protein, soybean isoflavones and coronary heart disease risk: where do we stand? Future Lipidology 2007;2(1):55–74
Food labeling: health claims; soy protein and coronary heart disease. Food and Drug Administration, HHS. Final rule. Fed.Regist. 1999 Oct 26;64(206):57700–33
Zhan S, Ho SC. Meta-analysis of the effects of soy protein containing isoflavones on the lipid profile. Am.J.Clin.Nutr. 2005 Feb;81(2):397–408
Cope MB, Erdman JW, Jr., Allison DB. The potential role of soyfoods in weight and adiposity reduction: an evidence-based review. Obes.Rev. 2008 May;9(3):219–35
Aoyama T, Fukui K, Takamatsu K, Hashimoto Y, Yamamoto T. Soy protein isolate and its hydrolysate reduce body fat of dietary obese rats and genetically obese mice (yellow KK). Nutrition 2000 May;16(5):349–54
Aoyama T, Fukui K, Nakamori T, Hashimoto Y, Yamamoto T, Takamatsu K, Sugano M. Effect of soy and milk whey protein isolates and their hydrolysates on weight reduction in genetically obese mice. Biosci.Biotechnol.Biochem. 2000 Dec;64(12):2594–600
Moriyama T, Kishimoto K, Nagai K, Urade R, Ogawa T, Utsumi S, Maruyama N, Maebuchi M. Soybean beta-conglycinin diet suppresses serum triglyceride levels in normal and genetically obese mice by induction of beta-oxidation, downregulation of fatty acid synthase, and inhibition of triglyceride absorption. Biosci.Biotechnol.Biochem. 2004 Feb;68(2):352–9
Nagasawa A, Fukui K, Funahashi T, Maeda N, Shimomura I, Kihara S, Waki M, Takamatsu K, Matsuzawa Y. Effects of soy protein diet on the expression of adipose genes and plasma adiponectin. Horm.Metab Res. 2002 Nov;34(11–12):635–9
Naaz A, Yellayi S, Zakroczymski MA, Bunick D, Doerge DR, Lubahn DB, Helferich WG, Cooke PS. The soy isoflavone genistein decreases adipose deposition in mice. Endocrinology 2003 Aug;144(8):3315–20
Simmen FA, Mercado CP, Zavacki AM, Huang SA, Greenway AD, Kang P, Bowman MT, Prior RL. Soy protein diet alters expression of hepatic genes regulating fatty acid and thyroid hormone metabolism in the male rat. J.Nutr.Biochem. 2010 Nov;21(11):1106–13
Liao FH, Shieh MJ, Yang SC, Lin SH, Chien YW. Effectiveness of a soy-based compared with a traditional low-calorie diet on weight loss and lipid levels in overweight adults. Nutrition 2007 Jul;23(7–8):551–6
Deibert P, Konig D, Schmidt-Trucksaess A, Zaenker KS, Frey I, Landmann U, Berg A. Weight loss without losing muscle mass in pre-obese and obese subjects induced by a high-soy-protein diet. Int.J.Obes.Relat Metab Disord. 2004 Oct;28(10):1349–52
Chan R, Leung J, Woo J, Kwok T. Associations of Dietary Protein Intake on Subsequent Decline in Muscle Mass and Physical Functions over Four Years in Ambulant Older Chinese People. J.Nutr.Health Aging 2014;18(2):171–7
Christie DR, Grant J, Darnell BE, Chapman VR, Gastaldelli A, Sites CK. Metabolic effects of soy supplementation in postmenopausal Caucasian and African American women: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Am.J.Obstet.Gynecol. 2010 Aug;203(2):153–9
Sites CK, Cooper BC, Toth MJ, Gastaldelli A, Arabshahi A, Barnes S. Effect of a daily supplement of soy protein on body composition and insulin secretion in postmenopausal women. Fertil.Steril. 2007 Dec;88(6):1609–17.
Chaston TB, Dixon JB, O’Brien PE. Changes in fat-free mass during significant weight loss: a systematic review. Int.J.Obes.(Lond) 2007 May;31(5):743–50
Adlercreutz H, Honjo H, Higashi A, Fotsis T, Hamalainen E, Hasegawa T, Okada H. Urinary excretion of lignans and isoflavonoid phytoestrogens in Japanese men and women consuming a traditional Japanese diet. Am.J.Clin.Nutr. 1991 Dec;54(6):1093–100
Murkies AL, Wilcox G, Davis SR. Clinical review 92: Phytoestrogens. J.Clin.Endocrinol.Metab 1998 Feb;83(2):297–303
Franke AA, Halm BM, Kakazu K, Li X, Custer LJ. Phytoestrogenic isoflavonoids in epidemiologic and clinical research. Drug Test.Anal. 2009 Jan;1(1):14–21
Guralnik JM, Simonsick EM, Ferrucci L, Glynn RJ, Berkman LF, Blazer DG, Scherr PA, Wallace RB. A short physical performance battery assessing lower extremity function: association with self-reported disability and prediction of mortality and nursing home admission. J.Gerontol. 1994 Mar;49(2):M85–M94
Simonsick EM, Montgomery PS, Newman AB, Bauer DC, Harris T. Measuring fitness in healthy older adults: the Health ABC Long Distance Corridor Walk. J.Am.Geriatr.Soc. 2001 Nov;49(11):1544–8
Cope MB, Erdman JW, Allison DB. The potential role of soyfoods in weight and adiposity reduction: an evidence-based review. Obesity Reviews 2007;1–17
Li Z, Hong K, Saltsman P, DeShields S, Bellman M, Thames G, Liu Y, Wang HJ, Elashoff R, Heber D. Long-term efficacy of soy-based meal replacements vs an individualized diet plan in obese type II DM patients: relative effects on weight loss, metabolic parameters, and C-reactive protein. Eur.J.Clin.Nutr. 2005 Mar;59(3):411–8
Allison DB, Gadbury G, Schwartz LG, Murugesan R, Kraker JL, Heshka S, Fontaine KR, Heymsfield SB. A novel soy-based meal replacement formula for weight loss among obese individuals: a randomized controlled clinical trial. Eur.J.Clin.Nutr. 2003 Apr;57(4):514–22
St-Onge MP, Claps N, Wolper C, Heymsfield SB. Supplementation with soy-protein-rich foods does not enhance weight loss. J.Am.Diet.Assoc. 2007 Mar;107(3):500–5
Bosello O, Cominacini L, Zocca I, Garbin U, Compri R, Davoli A, Brunetti L. Short- and long-term effects of hypocaloric diets containing proteins of different sources on plasma lipids and apoproteins of obese subjects. Ann.Nutr.Metab 1988;32(4):206–14
Anderson JW, Fuller J, Patterson K, Blair R, Tabor A. Soy compared to casein meal replacement shakes with energy-restricted diets for obese women: randomized controlled trial. Metabolism 2007 Feb;56(2):280–8
Anderson JW, Hoie LH. Weight loss and lipid changes with low-energy diets: comparator study of milk-based versus soy-based liquid meal replacement interventions. J.Am.Coll.Nutr. 2005 Jun;24(3):210–6
Lukaszuk JM, Luebbers P, Gordon BA. Preliminary study: soy milk as effective as skim milk in promoting weight loss. J.Am.Diet.Assoc. 2007 Oct;107(10):1811–4
Flechtner-Mors M, Ditschuneit HH, Johnson TD, Suchard MA, Adler G. Metabolic and weight loss effects of long-term dietary intervention in obese patients: four-year results. Obes.Res. 2000 Aug;8(5):399–402
Ditschuneit HH, Flechtner-Mors M, Johnson TD, Adler G. Metabolic and weight-loss effects of a long-term dietary intervention in obese patients. Am.J.Clin.Nutr. 1999 Feb;69(2):198–204
Liu ZM, Ho SC, Chen YM, Ho YP. A mild favorable effect of soy protein with isoflavones on body composition—a 6-month double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial among Chinese postmenopausal women. Int.J.Obes.(Lond) 2010 Feb;34(2):309–18
Ensrud KE, Nevitt MC, Yunis C, Cauley JA, Seeley DG, Fox KM, Cummings SR. Correlates of impaired function in older women. J.Am.Geriatr.Soc. 1994 May;42(5):481–9
Atkins JL, Whincup PH, Morris RW, Wannamethee SG. Low muscle mass in older men: the role of lifestyle, diet and cardiovascular risk factors. J.Nutr.Health Aging 2014 Jan;18(1):26–33
Chomentowski P, Dube JJ, Amati F, Stefanovic-Racic M, Zhu S, Toledo FG, Goodpaster BH. Moderate exercise attenuates the loss of skeletal muscle mass that occurs with intentional caloric restriction-induced weight loss in older, overweight to obese adults. J.Gerontol.A Biol.Sci.Med.Sci. 2009 May;64(5):575–80.
Murphy JC, McDaniel JL, Mora K, Villareal DT, Fontana L, Weiss EP. Preferential reductions in intermuscular and visceral adipose tissue with exercise-induced weight loss compared with calorie restriction. J.Appl.Physiol 2012 Jan;112(1):79–85.
Villareal DT, Chode S, Parimi N, Sinacore DR, Hilton T, Armamento-Villareal R, Napoli N, Qualls C, Shah K. Weight loss, exercise, or both and physical function in obese older adults. N.Engl.J.Med. 2011 Mar 31;364(13):1218–29.
Messier SP, Mihalko SL, Legault C, Miller GD, Nicklas BJ, DeVita P, Beavers DP, Hunter DJ, Lyles MF, Eckstein F, et al. Effects of intensive diet and exercise on knee joint loads, inflammation, and clinical outcomes among overweight and obese adults with knee osteoarthritis: the IDEA randomized clinical trial. JAMA 2013 Sep 25;310(12):1263–73
Villareal DT, Apovian CM, Kushner RF, Klein S. Obesity in older adults: technical review and position statement of the American Society for Nutrition and NAASO, The Obesity Society. Obes.Res. 2005 Nov;13(11):1849–63
Visser M, Goodpaster BH, Kritchevsky SB, Newman AB, Nevitt M, Rubin SM, Simonsick EM, Harris TB. Muscle mass, muscle strength, and muscle fat infiltration as predictors of incident mobility limitations in well-functioning older persons. J.Gerontol.A Biol.Sci.Med.Sci. 2005 Mar;60(3):324–33
Penninx BW, Kritchevsky SB, Newman AB, Nicklas BJ, Simonsick EM, Rubin S, Nevitt M, Visser M, Harris T, Pahor M. Inflammatory markers and incident mobility limitation in the elderly. J.Am.Geriatr.Soc. 2004 Jul;52(7):1105–13
Williamson DA, Geiselman PJ, Lovejoy J, Greenway F, Volaufova J, Martin CK, Arnett C, Ortego L. Effects of consuming mycoprotein, tofu or chicken upon subsequent eating behaviour, hunger and safety. Appetite 2006 Jan;46(1):41–8
Potter SM, Baum JA, Teng H, Stillman RJ, Shay NF, Erdman JW, Jr. Soy protein and isoflavones: their effects on blood lipids and bone density in postmenopausal women. Am.J.Clin.Nutr. 1998 Dec;68(6 Suppl):1375S–9S
Dawson-Hughes B, Harris SS, Ceglia L. Alkaline diets favor lean tissue mass in older adults. Am.J.Clin.Nutr. 2008 Mar;87(3):662–5.
About this article
Cite this article
Beavers, K.M., Gordon, M.M., Easter, L. et al. Effect of protein source during weight loss on body composition, cardiometabolic risk and physical performance in abdominally obese, older adults: A pilot feeding study. J Nutr Health Aging 19, 87–95 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12603-015-0438-7
- Weight loss
- older adults
- meal replacement