Exogenous protein in the absence of other calories can cause protein-sparing, but the mechanisms involved are controversial. It has been postulated that low insulin and high fat-derived substrate levels are necessary and sufficient conditions for such protein-sparing. We therefore established such conditions with differing protocols of protein input to define the role of protein input in mediating the response. Three groups of obese, nondiabetic subjects received the following diets: (1) 82.5±1.0 g protein/day (400 cal/day) for 21 days, n = 7; (2) the same, but as a refeeding diet for 7 days after 21-28 days of total fasts, n = 7; and (3) commencing with the same input, but with daily stepwise decrements over 14 days to 19.4±2.2 g/day, then maintained an additional 7 days, n = 4. Diet 3 gave approximately the amount and pattern of protein lost during total fasting.
Errol B. Marliss, Frederick T. Murray, Azima F. Nakhooda