Extent and determinants of thermogenic responses to 24 hours of fasting, energy balance, and five different overfeeding diets in humans

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 Jul;98(7):2791-9. doi: 10.1210/jc.2013-1289. Epub 2013 May 10.


Context: Individual variation in the ability to convert excess calories to heat and the effects of dietary macronutrient composition are unclear.

Objective: Stability and determinants of the energy expenditure (EE) response to overconsumption were assessed.

Design, setting, and participants: Twenty subjects (75% male) with normal glucose regulation were evaluated during 24 hours each of energy balance, fasting, and 5 different diets with 200% energy requirements in a clinical research unit.

Interventions: Five 1-day overfeeding diets were given in random order: high carbohydrate (75%) and low protein (3%); high carbohydrate and normal protein (20%); high fat (46%) and low protein; high fat (60%) and normal protein; and balanced (50% carbohydrates, 20% protein).

Main outcome measures: The 24-hour EE, sleeping EE, and thermic effect of food (TEF) during each diet were measured with a metabolic chamber. Appetitive hormones were measured before and after the diets.

Results: The EE response to overfeeding exhibited good intraindividual reproducibility. Similar increases above eucaloric feeding in 24-hour EE (mean 10.7 ± 5.7%, P < .001; range 2.9-18.8%) and sleeping EE (14.4 ± 11.3%, P < .001; range 1.0-45.1%) occurred when overfeeding diets containing 20% protein, despite differences in fat and carbohydrate content, but the EE response during overfeeding diets containing 3% protein was attenuated. The percent body fat negatively correlated with TEF during normal protein overfeeding (r = -0.53, P < .01). Fasting peptide YY negatively correlated with TEF (r = -0.56, P < .01) and the increase in sleeping EE (r = -0.54, P < .01) during overfeeding.

Conclusions: There is an intrinsic EE response to overfeeding that negatively associates with adiposity, although it represents a small percentage of consumed calories.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00523627.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arizona
  • Calorimetry, Indirect
  • Circadian Rhythm
  • Diet, High-Fat*
  • Diet, Protein-Restricted*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Fasting* / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperphagia / blood
  • Hyperphagia / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Peptide YY / blood
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Thermogenesis*
  • Young Adult


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Peptide YY

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00523627