Energy expenditure during overfeeding

Nutr Metab (Lond). 2006 Jul 12:3:25. doi: 10.1186/1743-7075-3-25.


The large inter-individual variation in weight gain during standardized overfeeding together with a weight gain that is often less than theoretically calculated from the energy excess suggest that there are differences between persons in the capacity to regulate energy expenditure and hence metabolic efficiency. Adaptive thermogenesis is defined as the regulated production of heat in response to environmental changes in temperature and diet, resulting in metabolic inefficiency. The question is whether adaptive thermogenesis can be identified in overfeeding experiments. From the numerous human overfeeding experiments we selected those studies that applied suitable protocols and measurement techniques. Five studies claimed to have found evidence for adaptive thermogenesis based on weight gains smaller than expected or unaccounted increases in thermogenesis above obligatory costs. Results from the other 11 studies suggest there is no adaptive thermogenesis as weight gains were proportional to the amount of overfeeding and the increased thermogenesis was associated with theoretical costs of an increased body size and a larger food intake. These results show that in humans, evidence for adaptive thermogenesis is still inconsistent. However, they do not rule out the existence, but emphasize that if present, adaptive changes in energy expenditure may be too small to measure considering measurement errors, errors in assumptions made and small (day-to-day) differences in physical activity. In addition, it is not clear in which component or components of total energy expenditure adaptive changes can occur and whether components can overlap due to measurement limitations.