Habitual meal frequency and energy intake regulation in partially temporally isolated men

M.S. Westerterp-Plantenga*, E.M.R. Kovacs, K.J. Melanson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Department of Human Biology, University of Maastricht, Maastricht, The Netherlands. M.Westerterp@HB.Unimaas.nl

OBJECTIVE: Assessment of a possible relationship between habitual as well as manipulated meal frequency, blood glucose pattern, macronutrient- and energy intake (EI), and energy intake regulation in partially temporally isolated men. DESIGN: A partially temporally isolated within-subject design assessing energy intake regulation in spite of intervention. Intervention consisted of manipulating meal frequency by offering iso-energetic (1 MJ) preloads high in fat or carbohydrate (CHO), with the same energy density. We have previously shown that after a high-CHO preload, inter-meal-interval was 1 h, while after a high-fat preload intermeal-interval was 2 h. SUBJECTS: Twenty healthy young (18-31 y) normal weight (body mass index (BMI): 22.8+/-1.9 kg/m(2)) men. MEASUREMENTS: On two separate days, each after a different preload: subsequent subjects' responses to the preload, eg manipulated meal frequency; continuous blood glucose levels and blood glucose patterns: macronutrient composition of food intake; EI; appetite ratings; and taste perception. From controlled 3-day food intake diaries: habitual meal frequency; EI; and macronutrient-intake. RESULTS: Accuracy of energy intake regulation is expressed as minimizing the difference in energy intake, despite intervention. The difference in 24 h EI on the two test days after the preloads (r(2)=0.56; P<0.001) was a function of habitual meal frequency. Variation in energy intake was primarily explained by habitual meal frequency (r(2)=0.76; P<0.0001). Adding macronutrient composition and number of blood glucose declines to this increased the explained variation to 86 and 96%, respectively. Percentage energy from CHO or from fat explained the variation in habitual meal frequency (r(2)=0.84; P<0.0001). Adding the total number of blood-glucose declines to this increased the explained variation to 88%, and adding average baseline blood glucose levels, sweetness perception and hunger suppression during preload consumption increased the explained variation to 91%. Manipulated meal frequency was related to habitual meal frequency (r(2)=0.86; P<0.0001) and was a function of the number of transient and dynamic blood glucose declines (r(2)=0.74; P<0.0001). CONCLUSION: Habitual meal frequency is of greater significance in energy intake regulation in healthy young men than manipulated meal frequency. Healthy young men with a high habitual meal frequency showed lower 24 h EI, and a smaller difference in EI after macronutrient specific preloads, compared to those with a low habitual meal frequency, thus showing a more accurate energy intake regulation. Habitual meal frequency is based upon a cluster of related factors including macronutrient composition of the food, sweetness perception, hunger suppression, blood glucose declines and average baseline blood glucose levels.

Publication Types:
Clinical Trial
Randomized Controlled Trial
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-110
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Obesity
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2002

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