Protein leverage hypothesis

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The protein leverage hypothesis states that human beings will prioritize the consumption of protein in food over other dietary components, and will eat until protein needs have been met, regardless of energy content,[1] thus leading of over-consumption of foodstuffs when their protein content is low.[1]

This hypothesis has been put forward as a potential explanation of the obesity epidemic,[2] Empirical tests have provided some evidence to confirm the hypothesis.[3] with one study suggesting that this could be a link between ultra-processed foods and the prevalence of obesity in the developed world.[4]

In 1995 Australian researcher Susanna Holt developed the concept of satiety value, a measure of how much a given food is likely to satisfy the hunger of someone. High protein foods have been found to have high satiety values, though these are outmatched by potatoes and oats (which have a high glycemic index). Fruits rank similarly to high protein foods (likely due to their high level of dietary fibre).

The 2020 popular science book "Eat Like the Animals: What Nature Teaches Us about the Science of Healthy Eating"[5] details the experiments of David Raubenheimer and Stephen Simpson, the two University of Sydney researchers who developed the protein leverage hypothesis.


  1. ^ a b Bekelman, Traci A.; Santamaría-Ulloa, Carolina; Dufour, Darna L.; Marín-Arias, Lilliam; Dengo, Ana Laura (2017-05-06). "Using the protein leverage hypothesis to understand socioeconomic variation in obesity". American Journal of Human Biology. 29 (3): e22953. doi:10.1002/ajhb.22953. ISSN 1520-6300. PMID 28121382.
  2. ^ Simpson, S. J.; Raubenheimer, D. (May 2005). "Obesity: the protein leverage hypothesis". Obesity Reviews. 6 (2): 133–142. doi:10.1111/j.1467-789X.2005.00178.x. ISSN 1467-7881. PMID 15836464.
  3. ^ Martinez-Cordero, Claudia; Kuzawa, Christopher W.; Sloboda, Deborah M.; Stewart, Joanna; Simpson, Stephen J.; Raubenheimer, David (October 2012). "Testing the Protein Leverage Hypothesis in a free-living human population". Appetite. 59 (2): 312–315. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2012.05.013. ISSN 1095-8304. PMID 22634200.
  4. ^ "It's Not Just Salt, Sugar, Fat: Study Finds Ultra-Processed Foods Drive Weight Gain". Retrieved 2019-05-17.
  5. ^ Eat like the animals : what nature teaches us about the science of healthy eating. ISBN 1460758692.