Intermittent versus continuous enteral nutrition attenuates increases in insulin and leptin during short-term bed rest

Javier T. Gonzalez*, Marlou L. Dirks, Andrew M. Holwerda, Imre W. K. Kouw, Luc J. C. van Loon

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: To compare endocrine responses to intermittent vs continuous enteral nutrition provision during short-term bed rest. Methods: Twenty healthy men underwent 7 days of bed rest, during which they were randomized to receive enteral nutrition (47%E as carbohydrate, 34%E as fat, 16%E as protein and 3%E as fibre) in a continuous (CONTINUOUS; n = 10; 24 h day −1 at a constant rate) or intermittent (INTERMITTENT; n = 10; as 4 meals per day separated by 5 h) pattern. Daily plasma samples were taken every morning to assess metabolite/hormone concentrations. Results: During bed rest, plasma leptin concentrations were elevated to a lesser extent with INTERMITTENT vs CONTINUOUS (iAUC: 0.42 ± 0.38 vs 0.95 ± 0.48 nmol L −1, respectively; P = 0.014) as were insulin concentrations (interaction effect, P < 0.001) which reached a peak of 369 ± 225 pmol L −1 in CONTINUOUS, compared to 94 ± 38 pmol L −1 in INTERMITTENT (P = 0.001). Changes in glucose infusion rate were positively correlated with changes in fasting plasma GLP-1 concentrations (r = 0.44, P = 0.049). Conclusion: Intermittent enteral nutrition attenuates the progressive rise in plasma leptin and insulinemia seen with continuous feeding during bed rest, suggesting that continuous feeding increases insulin requirements to maintain euglycemia. This raises the possibility that hepatic insulin sensitivity is impaired to a greater extent with continuous versus intermittent feeding during bed rest. To attenuate endocrine and metabolic changes with enteral feeding, an intermittent feeding strategy may, therefore, be preferable to continuous provision of nutrition. This trial was registered on as NCT02521025.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2083-2094
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Glucagon
  • Glucagon-like peptide-1
  • Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Insulin sensitivity
  • Metabolism
  • GLP-1


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