The influence of oral water load on energy expenditure and sympatho-vagal balance in obese and normal weight women

Arch Med Sci. 2012 Dec 20;8(6):1003-8. doi: 10.5114/aoms.2012.32406. Epub 2012 Dec 19.


Introduction: Oral water load may increase the energy expenditure (EE) by stimulation of sympathetic dependent thermogenesis. Thus, drinking of water may be helpful in weight reduction. The aim of the study is to assess the influence of water load on energy expenditure and sympathetic activity in obese and normal weight women.

Material and methods: Forty-five women were included. Energy expenditure was measured twice, in the morning and after oral water load, by the indirect calorimetric method. The heart rate variability parameters low frequency (LF), high frequency (HF), LF/HF index, standard deviation of normal RR intervals (SDNN) and root mean square difference among successive RR normal intervals (rMSSD) were used for the indirect assessment of the sympatho-vagal balance.

Results: Resting energy expenditure (REE) was significantly higher in obese than in normal weight women (1529 ±396 kcal/day vs. 1198 ±373 kcal/day; p = 0.02). In both study groups after water load EE increased significantly (by 20% and by 12%, corresponding to 8.6 kcal/h and 5.2 kcal/h respectively), while, LF/HF index increased simultaneously. The increase of energy expenditure (EE) did not exceed the energetic cost of water heating, from room to body temperature - 15 kcal/1000 ml. There was no correlation between changes of energy expenditure (EE) and heart rate variability (HRV) parameters.

Conclusions: The increase of EE induced by water load is mostly related to the heating of the consumed water to body temperature. The assessment of autonomic balance by means of standard HRV indices had been found insufficient for detection of actually operating mechanisms.

Keywords: energy expenditure; obesity; oral water load; sympatho-vagal balance.