Genetic effect in resting and exercise metabolic rates

Metabolism. 1989 Apr;38(4):364-70. doi: 10.1016/0026-0495(89)90126-1.


Two studies dealing with the contribution of the genotype in individual differences for resting metabolic rate (RMR), thermic effect of a 4.2 MJ carbohydrate meal (TEM), and energy cost of submaximal exercise are reported. The genetic effect for RMR and TEM was studied in 31 pairs of parent-child, 21 pairs of dizygotic (DZ) twins, and 37 pairs of monozygotic (MZ) twins, whereas the heritability of the energy cost of submaximal exercise was determined from data on 22 pairs of DZ twins and 31 pairs of MZ twins. The heritability of RMR reached approximately 40% of the variance remaining after adjustment for age, gender, and fat-free mass, (FFM). The genetic effect for TEM was equivalent to at least 40% to 50% of the variation in the energy expended during four hours after the meal test. A highly significant genetic effect was found for fasting plasma glucose (greater than .72), but the results for fasting plasma insulin are unclear. No significant genetic variance was seen for the glucose and insulin response to the carbohydrate meal. Finally, heritability for the metabolic rate during cycle exercise was high (greater than or equal to .46) at low power output, but it became nonsignificant when the energy cost reached about 6 times the RMR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Basal Metabolism*
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Female
  • Genetics, Medical
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Exertion
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange
  • Twins


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Insulin