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Intra-individual variation in resting metabolic rate during the menstrual cycle

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 March 2007

C. Jeya K. Henry*
Nutrition and Food Science Group, School of Biological and Molecular Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, Gipsy Lane Campus, Headington, Oxford OX3 0BP, UK
Helen J. Lightowler
Nutrition and Food Science Group, School of Biological and Molecular Sciences, Oxford Brookes University, Gipsy Lane Campus, Headington, Oxford OX3 0BP, UK
Jonathan Marchini
Department of Statistics, University of Oxford, 1 South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3TG, UK
*Corresponding author: Professor Jeya Henry, fax +44 1865 484017, email
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Little information exists on the extent of day-to-day intra-individual variation in resting metabolic rate (RMR) in women. The present study has investigated the intra-individual variation in RMR of women during the menstrual cycle. Nineteen women (naturally cycling non-pill users) were recruited to the study. Anthropometric and RMR measurements were taken at least three times per week for the duration of one complete menstrual cycle; measurements were taken for a second, consecutive cycle in eight of the nineteen subjects. RMR was measured by indirect calorimetry using a ventilated hood system under standardized conditions. The measurements made throughout each complete menstrual cycle were averaged and the levels of inter- and intra-individual variation in RMR were assessed by determining the CV (%). Mean RMR of the group was 5686 (SD 674) kJ/d; inter-individual variation in RMR was 11·8 %. There were wide differences in the intra-individual variation in RMR of women (CV range 1·7–10·4 %). The CV in ten subjects was small (2–4 %), while the CV in nine women was high (5–10 %), indicating a significant variation in RMR during the menstrual cycle in certain subjects. Using statistical models, it has been shown that there was a significant effect on RMR due to a subject-specific level of variability; this was the case even when accounting for a possible training effect. In conclusion, the findings from our present study show that RMR cannot be assumed to be ‘stable’ in all women. The implications of intra-individual variation in RMR and its impact on energy balance needs further research.

Research Article
Copyright © The Nutrition Society 2003


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