Consumers are increasingly encouraged to reduce meat and dairy consumption. However, few meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) on the effect of reducing meat and/or dairy on (absolute) protein intake, anthropometric values, and body composition are available. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to evaluate the effect of reducing meat and/or dairy consumption on (absolute) protein intake, anthropometric values, and body composition in adults aged ≥ 45 years. The MEDLINE, Cochrane CENTRAL, Embase, ClinicalTrials.gov, and International Clinical Trials Registry Platform databases were searched up to November 24, 2021. Randomized controlled trials reporting protein intake, anthropometric values, and body composition were included. Data were pooled using random-effects models and expressed as the mean difference (MD) with 95%CI. Heterogeneity was assessed and quantified using Cochran's Q and I2 statistics. In total, 19 RCTs with a median duration of 12 weeks (range, 4-24 weeks) and a total enrollment of 1475 participants were included. Participants who consumed meat- and/or dairy-reduced diets had a significantly lower protein intake than those who consumed control diets (9 RCTs; MD, -14 g/d; 95%CI, -20 to -8; I2 = 81%). Reducing meat and/or dairy consumption had no significant effect on body weight (14 RCTs; MD, -1.2 kg; 95%CI, -3 to 0.7; I2 = 12%), body mass index (13 RCTs; MD, -0.3 kg/m2; 95%CI, -1 to 0.4; I2 = 34%), waist circumference (9 RCTs; MD, -0.5 cm; 95%CI, -2.1 to 1.1; I2 = 26%), amount of body fat (8 RCTs; MD, -1.0 kg; 95%CI, -3.0 to 1.0; I2 = 48%), or lean body mass (9 RCTs; MD, -0.4 kg; 95%CI, -1.5 to 0.7; I2 = 0%). Reduction of meat and/or dairy appears to reduce protein intake. There is no evidence of a significant impact on anthropometric values or body composition. More long-term intervention studies with defined amounts of meat and dairy are needed to investigate the long-term effects on nutrient intakes and health outcomes. PROSPERO registration no. CRD42020207325.

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