Metabolic and behavioral compensations in response to caloric restriction: Implications for the maintenance of weight loss

Leanne M. Redman, Leonie Heilbronn, Corby K. Martin, Lilian de Jonge, Donald A. Williamson, James P. Delany, Eric Ravussin

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Background: Metabolic and behavioral adaptations to caloric restriction (CR) in free-living conditions have not yet been objectively measured. Methodology and Principal Findings: Forty-eight (36.8±1.0 y), overweight (BMI 27.8±0.7 kg/m2) participants were randomized to four groups for 6-months; Control: energy intake at 100% of energy requirements; CR: 25% calorie restriction; CR+EX: 12.5% CR plus 12.5% increase in energy expenditure by structured exercise; LCD: low calorie diet (890 kcal/d) until 15% weight reduction followed by weight maintenance. Body composition (DXA) and total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) over 14-days by doubly labeled water (DLW) and activity related energy activity (AREE) were measured after 3 (M3) and 6 (M6) months of intervention. Weight changes at M6 were -1.0±1.1% (Control), -10.4±0.9% (CR), -10.0±0.8% (CR+EX) and -13.9±0.8% (LCD). At M3, absolute TDEE was significantly reduced in CR (-454±76 kcal/d) and LCD (-633±66 kcal/d) but not in CR+EX or controls. At M6 the reduction in TDEE remained lower than baseline in CR (-316±118 kcal/d) and LCD (-389±124 kcal/d) but reached significance only when CR and LCD were combined (-351±83 kcal/d). In response to caloric restriction (CR/LCD combined), TDEE adjusted for body composition, was significantly lower by -431±51 and -240±83 kcal/d at M3 and M6, respectively, indicating a metabolic adaptation. Likewise, physical activity (TDEE adjusted for sleeping metabolic rate) was significantly reduced from baseline at both time points. For control and CR+EX, adjusted TDEE (body composition or sleeping metabolic rate) was not changed at either M3 or M6. Conclusions: For the first time we show that in free-living conditions, CR results in a metabolic adaptation and a behavioral adaptation with decreased physical activity levels. These data also suggest potential mechanisms by which CR causes large inter-individual variability in the rates of weight loss and how exercise may influence weight loss and weight loss maintenance. Copyright:

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere4377
JournalPloS one
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished or Issued - 9 Feb 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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