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Physiological responses to maximal eating in men

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 April 2020

Aaron Hengist
Department for Health, University of Bath, BathBA2 7AY, UK
Robert M. Edinburgh
Department for Health, University of Bath, BathBA2 7AY, UK
Russell G. Davies
Department for Health, University of Bath, BathBA2 7AY, UK
Jean-Philippe Walhin
Department for Health, University of Bath, BathBA2 7AY, UK
Jariya Buniam
Department for Health, University of Bath, BathBA2 7AY, UK Department of Physiology, Faculty of Science, Mahidol University, Bangkok10400, Thailand
Lewis J. James
School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, LoughboroughLE11 3TU, UK
Peter J. Rogers
School of Psychological Science, University of Bristol, BristolBS8 1TU, UK National Institute for Health Research Bristol Biomedical Research Centre, University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust, University of Bristol, BristolBS8 2BN, UK
Javier T. Gonzalez
Department for Health, University of Bath, BathBA2 7AY, UK
James A. Betts
Department for Health, University of Bath, BathBA2 7AY, UK
E-mail address:


This study investigated metabolic, endocrine, appetite and mood responses to a maximal eating occasion in fourteen men (mean: age 28 (sd 5) years, body mass 77·2 (sd 6·6) kg and BMI 24·2 (sd 2·2) kg/m2) who completed two trials in a randomised crossover design. On each occasion, participants ate a homogenous mixed-macronutrient meal (pizza). On one occasion, they ate until ‘comfortably full’ (ad libitum) and on the other, until they ‘could not eat another bite’ (maximal). Mean energy intake was double in the maximal (13 024 (95 % CI 10 964, 15 084) kJ; 3113 (95 % CI 2620, 3605) kcal) compared with the ad libitum trial (6627 (95 % CI 5708, 7547) kJ; 1584 (95 % CI 1364, 1804) kcal). Serum insulin incremental AUC (iAUC) increased approximately 1·5-fold in the maximal compared with ad libitum trial (mean: ad libitum 43·8 (95 % CI 28·3, 59·3) nmol/l × 240 min and maximal 67·7 (95 % CI 47·0, 88·5) nmol/l × 240 min, P < 0·01), but glucose iAUC did not differ between trials (ad libitum 94·3 (95 % CI 30·3, 158·2) mmol/l × 240 min and maximal 126·5 (95 % CI 76·9, 176·0) mmol/l × 240 min, P = 0·19). TAG iAUC was approximately 1·5-fold greater in the maximal v. ad libitum trial (ad libitum 98·6 (95 % CI 69·9, 127·2) mmol/l × 240 min and maximal 146·4 (95 % CI 88·6, 204·1) mmol/l × 240 min, P < 0·01). Total glucagon-like peptide-1, glucose-dependent insulinotropic peptide and peptide tyrosine–tyrosine iAUC were greater in the maximal compared with ad libitum trial (P < 0·05). Total ghrelin concentrations decreased to a similar extent, but AUC was slightly lower in the maximal v. ad libitum trial (P = 0·02). There were marked differences on appetite and mood between trials, most notably maximal eating caused a prolonged increase in lethargy. Healthy men have the capacity to eat twice the energy content required to achieve comfortable fullness at a single meal. Postprandial glycaemia is well regulated following initial overeating, with elevated postprandial insulinaemia probably contributing.

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© The Author(s), 2020. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Nutrition Society

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