Influence of Consumption of a High-Protein vs. High-Carbohydrate Meal on the Physiological Cortisol and Psychological Mood Response in Men and Women

S.G. Lemmens, J.M. Born, E.A.P. Martens, M. Martens, M.S. Westerterp-Plantenga

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Abstract

Consumption of meals with different macronutrient contents, especially high in carbohydrates, may influence the stress-induced physiological and psychological response. The objective of this study was to investigate effects of consumption of a high-protein vs. high-carbohydrate meal on the physiological cortisol response and psychological mood response. Subjects (n = 38, 19m/19f, age = 25+/-9 yrs, BMI = 25.0+/-3.3 kg/m(2)) came to the university four times, fasted, for either condition: rest-protein, stress-protein, rest-carbohydrate, stress-carbohydrate (randomized cross-over design). Stress was induced by means of a psychological computer-test. The test-meal was either a high-protein meal (En% P/C/F 65/5/30) or a high-carbohydrate meal (En% P/C/F 6/64/30), both meals were matched for energy density (4 kJ/g) and daily energy requirements (30%). Per test-session salivary cortisol levels, appetite profile, mood state and level of anxiety were measured. High hunger, low satiety (81+/-16, 12+/-15 mmVAS) confirmed the fasted state. The stress condition was confirmed by increased feelings of depression, tension, anger, anxiety (AUC stress vs. rest p<0.02). Consumption of the high-protein vs. high-carbohydrate meal did not affect feelings of depression, tension, anger, anxiety. Cortisol levels did not differ between the four test-sessions in men and women (AUC nmol.min/L p>0.1). Consumption of the test-meals increased cortisol levels in men in all conditions (p<0.01), and in women in the rest-protein and stress-protein condition (p<0.03). Men showed higher cortisol levels than women (AUC nmol.min/L p<0.0001). Consumption of meals with different macronutrient contents, i.e. high-protein vs. high-carbohydrate, does not influence the physiological and psychological response differentially. Men show a higher meal-induced salivary cortisol response compared with women.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere16826
Number of pages6
JournalPLOS ONE
Volume6
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011

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