About this Research Topic
Over the course of evolution, an attraction has developed towards foods perceived as sources dense in protein. This search for high quality proteins has probably been at the root of the important place of meat products, in the Western diet. However, in the context of the promotion of healthy diets and sustainable agriculture, a decrease in protein intake associated to a transition towards more plant-based proteins instead of animal proteins, is often promoted.
If the objective appears reasonable and politically justified, the essential nature of certain amino acids makes it essential to provide them through dietary protein intake. Therefore, as several essential amino acids are limited in plant proteins, reducing simultaneously dietary protein intake and dietary proteins from animal sources has the potential to result in “low grade” protein insecurity. Another concern is the possibility that in addition to protein balance, energy balance may also be affected with possible consequences on body fat deposition; as a result of increased hunger to meet protein requirements and changes in food preferences. It is therefore important to consider the consequences of this protein transition on meeting individual protein and amino acid requirements and to anticipate their subsequent effects on physiological functions.
The main goal of this Research Topic is therefore to review the possible advantages and limitations of reducing the protein to energy ratio in the human diet. Exploring the possible specific effects of reducing amino acid intake on: food intake, the parameters of protein turnover, energy balance and maintenance of essential physiological functions (growth, reproduction, thermoregulation, exercise, immunity), and on dysfunctions related to various pathologies (diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, steatosis, renal functions and cancer). The consequences on hunger, appetite and food cravings should also be considered.
We welcome reviews and original research dealing with, but not limited to, the various changes induced by decreasing the protein content or the protein quality of diets on physiological functions and dysfunctions. Including research addressing the issue of the physiological importance of covering the body's protein needs as a significant causal factor in food choices. Human as well as animal studies are welcomed.
Keywords: Low-Protein Diets, Plant-Based, Risks, Benefits, Protein Turnover, Energy Balance
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.