Nutrient oxidation patterns and protein metabolism in lean and obese subjects

A C Bruce, M A McNurlan, K C McHardy, J Broom, K D Buchanan, Alexander Graham Calder, Eric Milne, B A McGaw, P J Garlick, W P James

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)


The immediate metabolic response to eating has been compared in a group of grossly obese subjects (W/H2 = 45) with that in lean controls (W/H2 = 22). Dietary intake of energy for obese subjects was based on their estimated basal energy expenditure for ideal body weight (given at an hourly rate of 3 X BMR over a 4-h period). Lean subjects were measured twice: control 1 with the same intake of energy as the obese in terms of ideal body weight and control 2 with the same energy intake in relation to each subject's measured resting energy expenditure (2.2 X REE). The changes in energy expenditure and nutrient disposal with the onset of eating have been assessed by a method of combined respiratory gas analysis and intravenous infusion of 13C-labelled leucine. Leucine kinetics were used to quantitate rapid changes in protein oxidation and to assess protein synthesis and degradation. 1) Total energy expenditure was 20-30 per cent greater in obese subjects than lean subjects in fasting and feeding. Energy expenditure expressed per kg fat-free mass, from D2O dilution, was similar in obese and lean subjects in both fasting (5.8 v. 5.5 kJ/kg FFM/h) and feeding [6.7 v. 6.3 (Control 2) kJ/kg FFM/h]. 2) The onset of eating was associated with increased carbohydrate and protein oxidation with decreased fat oxidation in both lean and obese individuals. In obese subjects, however, both the decrease in fat oxidation and the increase in protein oxidation were significantly smaller (P less than 0.05) than the corresponding increments in lean subjects (Control 2). 3) The rate of protein synthesis was significantly (P less than 0.05) higher in obese subjects both in the fasting state (99 v. 84 mumols leucine/kg FFM/h) and in the fed state [94 v. 67 (Control 2) mumols leucine/kg FFM/h]. The rate of protein degradation was also higher in obese individuals in fasting (117 +/- 6 v. 106 +/- 4 mumol leucine/kg FFM/h) and feeding [65 +/- 4 v. 54 +/- 6 (Control 2) mumol leucine/kg FFM/h] though these differences are not statistically significant (P greater than 0.05). 4) The observed differences between obese and lean individuals in protein and energy metabolism in the fasted state and in the immediate response to eating do not support a hypothesis of greater metabolic efficiency in obesity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)631-646
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 1990


  • Adult
  • Calorimetry, Indirect
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity
  • Proteins
  • nutrient
  • oxidation
  • energetic cost
  • proteins
  • metabolism
  • calorimetry
  • human
  • obesity


Dive into the research topics of 'Nutrient oxidation patterns and protein metabolism in lean and obese subjects'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this