Thermogenesis induced by a high-carbohydrate meal in fasted lean and overweight young men: insulin, body fat, and sympathetic nervous system involvement

Nutrition. 2003 Jan;19(1):25-9. doi: 10.1016/s0899-9007(02)00950-4.


Objective: This dietary trial was designed to evaluate the effect of an experimental short-term fasting period followed by a high-carbohydrate meal on energy expenditure, thermogenesis, and sympathetic nervous system activity in normal (body mass index < 25 kg/m(2)) and overweight (body mass index > 27 kg/m(2)) men who were healthy, non-diabetic or with no other endocrine disease, non-smokers, not taking oral prescription medications, and with a stable body weight for the previous 3 mo.

Methods: Fasting and fed energy expenditures and diet-induced thermogenesis were measured after a high-carbohydrate meal in seven overweight and six lean young male subjects by indirect calorimetry. Heart rate, urinary excretion of catecholamines, serum glucose, and insulin were also measured over the experimental fasting (7.5 h) and postprandial (4 h) periods.

Results: After carbohydrate intake, overweight men showed a significantly higher energy production (kJ/kg of fat-free mass) than did lean individuals, and the diet-induced thermogenesis (percentage of energy intake) was positively correlated with body fat (kg), percentage of body fat, fat-free mass (kg), and fasting pre-meal serum insulin levels. Postprandial cumulative energy expenditure was directly associated with postprandial insulin response and with mean postprandial heart rate values. No significant differences in urinary catecholamines were found between lean and overweight men at basal conditions or during the study period.

Conclusions: Overweight individuals showed similar short-term sympathetic nervous system responses induced by an experimental fasting period. Although diet-induced thermogenesis after carbohydrate intake was not statistically different between lean and overweight men, the postprandial insulin response and body fat content seemed to be involved in sympathetic nervous system activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Adult
  • Area Under Curve
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Calorimetry, Indirect
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Fasting
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood*
  • Male
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Postprandial Period
  • Respiration
  • Sympathetic Nervous System / physiology*
  • Thermogenesis / physiology*


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Insulin