A limit on the energy transfer rate from the human fat store in hypophagia

J Theor Biol. 2005 Mar 7;233(1):1-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2004.08.029. Epub 2004 Dec 8.


A limit on the maximum energy transfer rate from the human fat store in hypophagia is deduced from experimental data of underfed subjects maintaining moderate activity levels and is found to have a value of (290+/-25) kJ/kgd. A dietary restriction which exceeds the limited capability of the fat store to compensate for the energy deficiency results in an immediate decrease in the fat free mass (FFM). In cases of a less severe dietary deficiency, the FFM will not be depleted. The transition between these two dietary regions is developed and a criterion to distinguish the regions is defined. An exact mathematical solution for the decrease of the FFM is derived for the case where the fat mass (FM) is in its limited energy transfer mode. The solution shows a steady-state term which is in agreement with conventional ideas, a term indicating a slow decrease of much of the FFM moderated by the limited energy transferred from the fat store, and a final term showing an unprotected rapid decrease of the remaining part of the FFM. The average resting metabolic rate of subjects undergoing hypophagia is shown to decrease linearly as a function of the FFM with a slope of (249+/-25) kJ/kgd. This value disagrees with the results of other observers who have measured metabolic rates of diverse groups. The disagreement is explained in terms of individual metabolic properties as opposed to those of the larger population.

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Food Deprivation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Time Factors
  • Weight Loss*