Meals with similar energy densities but rich in protein, fat, carbohydrate, or alcohol have different effects on energy expenditure and substrate metabolism but not on appetite and energy intake

Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Jan;77(1):91-100. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/77.1.91.


Background: It has been suggested that the satiating power of the 4 macronutrients follows the oxidation hierarchy: alcohol > protein > carbohydrate > fat. However, the experimental evidence for this is still scarce.

Objective: The goal was to investigate the effects on appetite, energy intake and expenditure, and substrate metabolism of meals rich in 1 of the 4 macronutrients.

Design: Subjective appetite sensations, ad libitum food intake, energy expenditure, substrate metabolism, and hormone concentrations were measured for 5 h after breakfast meals with similar energy density and fiber contents but rich in either protein (32% of energy), carbohydrate (65% of energy), fat (65% of energy), or alcohol (23% of energy). Subjects were normal-weight, healthy women (n = 9) and men (n = 10) studied in a crossover design.

Results: There were no significant differences in hunger or satiety sensations or in ad libitum energy intake after the 4 meals. Diet-induced thermogenesis was larger after the alcohol meal (by 27%; P < 0.01), whereas protein produced an intermediary response (17%; NS) compared with carbohydrate and fat (meal effect: P < 0.01). After the alcohol meal, fat oxidation and leptin concentrations were greatly suppressed (meal effects, P < 0.0001 and P < 0.05) and triacylglycerol concentrations were as high as after the fat meal.

Conclusion: Intake of an alcohol-rich meal stimulates energy expenditure but suppresses fat oxidation and leptin more than do isoenergetically dense meals rich in protein, carbohydrate, or fat. Despite differences in substrate metabolism and hormone concentrations, satiety and ad libitum energy intake were not significantly different between meals. Our data, therefore, do not support the proposed relation between the macronutrient oxidation hierarchy and the satiety hierarchy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Appetite / drug effects*
  • Blood Glucose / drug effects
  • Calorimetry, Indirect
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Proteins / pharmacology*
  • Energy Intake / drug effects
  • Energy Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Ethanol / administration & dosage
  • Ethanol / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Satiation / drug effects


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Ethanol