Restrained eating behavior and the metabolic response to dietary energy restriction in women

Obes Res. 2004 Jan;12(1):141-9. doi: 10.1038/oby.2004.19.


Objective: To determine whether prior eating behavior characterized by dietary restraint alters responses in energy expenditure and substrate oxidation associated with a short-term, energy-restricted diet.

Research methods and procedures: A repeated-measures, 3-day diet-intervention study of adequate (125 kJ/kg of body weight) or restricted (62.5 kJ/kg) energy intake was conducted with 30 women, 20 to 46 years, BMI 25 to 45 kg/m(2), whose prior eating behavior was "restrained" or "unrestrained." The Eating Inventory (cognitive restraint subscale) was used to measure restrained eating behavior. Energy expenditure and substrate oxidation were measured after a 12-hour fast and during the first and fourth hours after a standard meal. Plasma glucose, nonesterified fatty acids, and insulin were measured at corresponding times. Body composition was determined by total body electrical conductivity.

Results: Resting energy expenditure was not affected by 3 days of energy restriction. Short-term energy restriction resulted in lower respiratory-exchange ratios, higher rates of fat oxidation, and lower rates of carbohydrate oxidation. Subjects classified as restrained eaters had higher postprandial respiratory-exchange ratios and carbohydrate-oxidation rates compared with unrestrained eaters. Fasting insulin concentrations were lower in restrained eaters. These effects associated with prior eating behavior were independent of the diet intervention.

Discussion: Metabolic outcomes associated with a 3-day energy-restricted diet (i.e., increased fat oxidation and decreased carbohydrate oxidation) were not affected by prior restrained eating behavior. However, restrained eating behavior was associated with increased carbohydrate oxidation after a mixed meal. This effect of restrained eating behavior may be attributable to increased insulin sensitivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Behavior*
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Body Mass Index
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Diet, Reducing*
  • Eating*
  • Energy Intake*
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Fasting
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / blood
  • Female
  • Food
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxidation-Reduction


  • Blood Glucose
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Insulin