Hydration status affects thirst and salt preference but not energy intake or postprandial ghrelin in healthy adults: A randomised crossover trial

Physiol Behav. 2019 Dec 1:212:112725. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2019.112725. Epub 2019 Oct 30.


Background: Few studies have investigated the effect of hydration status on appetite for food in healthy adults. Prior work suggests hydration status does not alter appetite or energy intake, with mixed findings regarding appetite hormone secretion. However, an extensive investigation into both the psychological and physiological appetitive responses to hydration status has never been conducted.

Objective: To investigate the effect of hydration status on multiple facets of appetite.

Design: After 3 days pre-trial standardization, a range of appetite tasks were conducted when hypohydrated (HYPO) and euhydrated (EUHY) in 16 healthy participants (8 men). Hydration status was manipulated via dehydration in a heat tent for 60 min and subsequent fluid restriction (HYPO) or replacement (EUHY). The next day, a food reward computer task was completed followed by an ad libitum pasta meal. Pre- and post-prandial visual analogue scales assessing hunger, fullness, and flavour desires (sweet, salty, savoury and fatty) were additionally completed. Blood samples were taken the previous day before the hydration interventions in a euhydrated state, and in the fasted and post-prandial state during HYPO and EUHY.

Results: HYPO induced -1.9 ± 1.2% body mass change, compared to -0.2 ± 0.6% , with accompanying changes in markers of hypohydration which were not seen during EUHY. A higher desire for foods was associated with a higher water content but the association was weaker in EUHY compared to HYPO, (β= -0.33 mm/g of food water content, p < 0.001) in the food reward task. Visual analogue scales showed similar hunger and fullness between interventions, but during HYPO there was consistently higher thirst (average range in difference 27-32 mm across all time points) and lower fasted desire for salt (-23, 95% CI -10, -35 mm). Ad libitum energy intake (HYPO 1953 ± 742 kJ, EUHY 2027 ± 926 kJ; p = 0.542) and post-prandial ghrelin concentrations (HYPO 180 ± 65 pg mL-1, EUHY 188 ± 71 pg mL-1; p = 0.736) were similar by hydration status.

Conclusions: An acute manipulation to hydration status altered desire for salt and foods of differing water contents, but did not influence energy intake at an ad libitum pasta meal. Further research should investigate whether these appetites would alter food choice.

Keywords: Appetite; Copeptin; Desire; Energy intake; Hydration; Water intake.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dehydration / physiopathology
  • Energy Intake / physiology*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / physiology*
  • Ghrelin / blood*
  • Humans
  • Hunger / physiology
  • Male
  • Organism Hydration Status / physiology*
  • Postprandial Period / physiology
  • Satiation / physiology
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary*
  • Thirst / physiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Ghrelin
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary