Background:High-protein (HP) diets are often advocated for weight reduction and weight loss maintenance.Objective:The aim was to compare the effect of low-fat, high-carbohydrate (HC) and low-fat, HP ad libitum diets on weight maintenance after weight loss induced by a very low-calorie diet, and on metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors in healthy obese subjects.Design:Forty-eight subjects completed the study that consisted of an energy restriction period of 5-6 weeks followed by a weight maintenance period of 12 weeks. During weight maintenance subjects received maltodextrin (HC group) or protein (HP group) (casein (HPC subgroup) or whey (HPW subgroup)) supplements (2 x 25 g per day), respectively and consumed a low-fat diet.Results:Subjects in the HP diet group showed significantly better weight maintenance after weight loss (2.3 kg difference, P=0.04) and fat mass reduction (2.2 kg difference, P=0.02) than subjects in the HC group. Triglyceride (0.6 mM difference, P=0.01) and glucagon (9.6 pg ml(-1) difference, P=0.02) concentrations increased more in the HC diet group, while glucose (0.3 mM difference, P=0.02) concentration increased more in the HP diet group. Changes in total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, insulin, HOMAir index, HbA1c, leptin and adiponectin concentrations did not differ between the diets. No differences were found between the casein- or whey-supplemented HP groups.Conclusions:These results show that low-fat, high-casein or whey protein weight maintenance diets are more effective for weight control than low-fat, HC diets and do not adversely affect metabolic and cardiovascular risk factors in weight-reduced moderately obese subjects without metabolic or cardiovascular complications.International Journal of Obesity advance online publication, 20 January 2009; doi:10.1038/ijo.2008.278.