Influence of dietary composition on energy expenditure during recovery of body weight in the rat: implications for catch-up growth and obesity relapse

Metabolism. 1992 Dec;41(12):1336-42. doi: 10.1016/0026-0495(92)90105-j.


The influence of dietary composition on whole-body energetics was examined during the first 2 weeks of isocaloric refeeding after low food intake in a rat model. The high energetic efficiency and energy partitioning toward fat accretion characteristic of this refeeding period were unaltered by (1) dietary fat levels varying between 6% and 30% of energy intake; (2) protein levels between 15% and 40%; (3) carbohydrate types (glucose v fructose v sucrose v starch v unrefined carbohydrate); and (4) diets containing 30% fat but differing in fatty acid composition (long-chain triglycerides [LCT] v medium-chain triglycerides [MCT] v oleic v linoleic v alpha-linolenic metabolites eicosapentaenoic acid [EPA] and docosahexaenoic acid [DHA] omega-3 fatty acids). Changes were only observed for extreme diets, ie, those deficient in protein or very high in fat. Low-protein diet was the only condition in which the high metabolic efficiency characteristic of the refeeding period was partially suppressed, and this occurred despite a lack of concomitant reduction in body fat deposition. On the contrary, with high-fat diets (> 30% of dietary energy consumption) the elevated efficiency was further increased, an effect that was only partially accounted for by the lower energy cost of body fat gain from high-fat diets. These studies indicate that during body weight recovery, the mechanisms underlying the adaptive increase in metabolic efficiency favoring the replenishment of body fat stores override any effect of food type on thermogenesis, and suggest some convergence in the controlling neural pathway. The implications of these findings vis-a-vis nutritional rehabilitation (catch-up growth) and obesity relapse are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Composition
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / pharmacology
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology
  • Dietary Proteins / pharmacology
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Growth / physiology*
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Male
  • Obesity / etiology
  • Obesity / physiopathology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins