A high-protein low-glycemic index diet attenuates gestational weight gain in pregnant women with obesity: the "An optimized programming of healthy children" (APPROACH) randomized controlled trial

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Background: Prepregnancy overweight and excessive gestational weight gain (GWG) increase the risk of complications and offspring obesity.

Objectives: We aimed to investigate the effect of a high-protein low-glycemic index (HPLGI) diet on GWG, birth weight, and risk of gestational complications in pregnant women with obesity.

Design: A total of 279 women with pre-pregnancy overweight or obesity (BMI 28-45 kg/m2), between 18 and 45 y old, and in their late first trimester with singleton pregnancies, were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 ad libitum diets: a high -protein low-glycemic index diet (HPLGI: 25%-28% of energy from protein and glycemic index ≤ 55) and a moderate-protein moderate-glycemic index diet (MPMGI: 15%-18% of energy from protein and glycemic index ∼60). Diets were consumed from gestational week 15 and throughout pregnancy. Participants received dietary guidance by a clinical dietician 9 times to facilitate adherence.

Results: Out of 141 and 138 women randomly assigned to the HPLGI and MPMGI diets, 105 and 104 completed the intervention, respectively (75%). In the available case analyses, GWG was 6.8 ± 1.3 kg among women assigned the HPLGI diet and this was significantly lower, by -1.7 kg (95% CI: -2.8, -0.5; P = 0.004) than the GWG of 8.5 ± 1.3 kg among women assigned the MPMGI diet. There were no significant differences between diets on major neonatal outcomes (birthweight and other anthropometric measures). The incidence of composite pregnancy complications was lower in the HPLGI compared with the MPMGI diet (35.4% compared with. 53.7%, respectively; P = 0.009), including cesarean delivery (15.4% compared with 28.8%, respectively; P = 0.03). There were no reported maternal, fetal, or neonatal deaths. Incidence of miscarriages (1%-2%) did not differ between groups.

Conclusion: A moderate increase in dietary protein in conjunction with a reduction in glycemic index during the last two trimesters of pregnancy reduced GWG and limited complications and cesarean deliveries among women with overweight or obesity. 

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01894139.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)970-979
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society for Nutrition.

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Science - Gestational weight gain, Dietary intervention, Offspring, Birth weight, Pregnancy, Cesarean delivery

ID: 287115850