Phosphorus May Help With Weight Loss
Due to modern production of food, much of the items we eat are significantly reduced in vitamin and mineral content1. Phosphorus is one of these minerals that has drastically lowered in our food supply and is an important part of our metabolism. It is important for bone health, energy production and has even been shown to help with weight loss in overweight/obese individuals.
In a 2015 study by Ayoub et al.2, it was shown that supplementation of 375 mg of phosphorus (P) at each meal reduced weight and waist circumference over 12 weeks with all other diet and activity remaining the same. The study was a double blind design with 2 groups; 1 taking a placebo and the other taking the 375 mg P. Unfortunately, they did not conduct food logs so we do not know if the reduction was due to a reduction in energy intake or purely from the P. However, past studies have shown that P effects ATP production, specifically in the liver, which regulates neural signals to the central nervous system that regulates satiety3. In a previous study, the addition of 500 mg of phosphorus to a non-caloric or caloric pre-load has already been shown to significantly reduce the food intake during ad-libitum (at one’s pleasure) lunch4.
P has been shown to improve the blunted thermic effect of food (TEF) in those losing weight as well as enhancing postprandial satiety5. The improvement in TEF makes sense as it requires adequate amounts of ATP, which as stated above, requires adequate amounts of P. The increase in TEF thus increases the Resting Metabolic Rate which leads to improvement in energy expenditure while the improved satiety leads to a reduction in energy intake. This clearly shows how the P enables that basic nutritional science of energy out > energy in = weight loss.
This ties very closely to a hypothesis that I and others in the nutrition world consider – that a lack of micronutrients are resulting in a decreased satiety response as well as a deficiency in the co-factors necessary for proper metabolism, thus leading to weight gain.
So, besides supplementing with phosphorus (which I don’t recommend due to the synergistic nature of minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium and calcium), what foods are high in phosphorus? Here is a list of foods to incorporate in to your diet to maximize adequate phosphorus6.
Sunflower seeds — ¼ cup: 369 milligrams
Raw milk — 1 cup: 212 milligrams
Tuna — 3 ounce can: 184 milligrams
Turkey Breast — 3 ounces: 182 milligrams
Grass-Fed Beef — 3 ounces: 173 milligrams
Almonds — ¼ cup: 162 milligrams
Potatoes — 1 medium: 121 milligrams
Broccoli — 1 cup cooked: 104 milligrams
Eggs — 1 large: 98 milligrams
- Davis, D. R., Epp, M. D., & Riordan, H. D. (2004). Changes in USDA Food Composition Data for 43 Garden Crops, 1950 to 1999. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 23(6), 669-682. doi:10.1080/07315724.2004.10719409
- Ayoub, J. J., Samra, M. J., Hlais, S. A., Bassil, M. S., & Obeid, O. A. (2015). Effect of phosphorus supplementation on weight gain and waist circumference of overweight/obese adults: a randomized clinical trial. Nutrition & Diabetes, 5(12). doi:10.1038/nutd.2015.38
- Friedman, Mark I. (2007). Obesity and the hepatic control of feeding behavior. Drug News Perspect 20.9: 573-8.
- Obeid, O. A., S. Dimachkie, and S. Hlais. (2010). Increased phosphorus content of preload suppresses ad libitum energy intake at subsequent meal. International Journal of Obesity 34.9: 1446-1448.
- Bassil, Maya S., and Omar A. Obeid. (2016). Phosphorus Supplementation Recovers the Blunted Diet-Induced Thermogenesis of Overweight and Obese Adults: A Pilot Study. Nutrients 8.12: 801.
- USDA Food Composition Databases. (2017). Retrieved January 26, 2017, from https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/