Impact of Protein and Energy Flux on Metabolic and Behavioral Compensation during Weight Loss: A Comprehensive Energy Balance Approach

Project: Research

Project Details


While the creation of an energy deficit (ED) is required for weight loss, it is well documented that actual weight loss is generally lower than what expected based on the initially imposed ED, a result of adaptive mechanisms that are oppose to initial ED to result in energy balance at a lower set-point. In addition to leading to plateauing weight loss, these adaptive responses have also been implicated in weight regain and weight cycling (add consequences). Adaptions occur both on the intake side, leading to a hyperphagic state in which food intake is favored (elevated levels of hunger, appetite, cravings etc.), as well as on the expenditure side, as adaptive thermogenesis reduces energy expenditure through compensatory reductions in resting metabolic rate (RMR), non-exercise activity expenditure (NEAT) and the thermic effect of food (TEF). Two strategies that have been utilized to improve weight loss outcomes include increasing dietary protein content and increasing energy flux during weight loss. Preliminary data from our group and others demonstrate that both approaches - especially when combined - have the capacity to reduce the hyperphagic response and attenuate reductions in energy expenditure, thereby minimizing the adaptive mechanisms implicated in plateauing weight loss, weight regain and weight cycling.
Past research has largely focused on one specific component of energy balance (e.g. hunger or RMR) rather than assessing the impact of these strategies on all components of energy balance. Given that all components of energy balance are strongly connected with each other and therefore can potentially negate beneficial impacts on one specific component, the primary objective of this application is to use a comprehensive approach that integrates all components of energy balance to quantify the changes in response to a high protein and high energy flux, alone and in combination, during weight loss (Fig 1). Our central hypothesis is that a combination of high protein intake and high energy flux will be most effective at minimizing both metabolic and behavioral adaptations in several components of energy balance such that the hyperphagic state and adaptive thermogenesis are attenuated to lead to superior weight loss results and long-term weight maintenance.
Short titleEnergy Balance
StatusNot started


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