Does metabolic compensation explain the majority of less-than-expected weight loss in obese adults during a short-term severe diet and exercise intervention?
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Objective: We investigated to what extent changes in metabolic rate and composition of weight loss explained the less-than-expected weight loss in obese men and women during a diet-plus-exercise intervention. Design: In all, 16 obese men and women (41Ṡyears; body mass index (BMI) 39ᶿkg?m-2) were investigated in energy balance before, after and twice during a 12-week very-low-energy diet(565-650?kcal per day) plus exercise (aerobic plus resistance training) intervention. The relative energy deficit (EDef) from baseline requirements was severe (74%-87%). Body composition was measured by deuterium dilution and dual energy X-ray absorptiometry, and resting metabolic rate (RMR) was measured by indirect calorimetry. Fat mass (FM) and fat-free mass (FFM) were converted into energy equivalents using constants 9.45?kcal per g FM and 1.13?kcal per g FFM. Predicted weight loss was calculated from the EDef using the '7700?kcal?kg-1 rule'. Results: Changes in weight (-18.6ᵮ0?kg), FM (-15.5ᴮ3?kg) and FFM (-3.1ᱮ9?kg) did not differ between genders. Measured weight loss was on average 67% of the predicted value, but ranged from 39% to 94%. Relative EDef was correlated with the decrease in RMR (R=0.70, P<0.01), and the decrease in RMR correlated with the difference between actual and expected weight loss (R=0.51, P<0.01). Changes in metabolic rate explained on average 67% of the less-than-expected weight loss, and variability in the proportion of weight lost as FM accounted for a further 5%. On average, after adjustment for changes in metabolic rate and body composition of weight lost, actual weight loss reached 90% of the predicted values. Conclusion: Although weight loss was 33% lower than predicted at baseline from standard energy equivalents, the majority of this differential was explained by physiological variables. Although lower-than-expected weight loss is often attributed to incomplete adherence to prescribed interventions, the influence of baseline calculation errors and metabolic downregulation should not be discounted.
International Journal of Obesity