Very Low-Calorie Diet (VLCD) is an approved method to safely achieve substantial short-term weight loss in obese patients. We previously reported that two weeks of the VLCD maintains whole-body protein and amino acid turnover despite a large reduction in lean body mass. Since the observed effects on body weight (BW) and composition differed between men and women, we hypothesized that the changes in amino acid metabolism in a response to the calorie-restricted diet is gender-specific.
34 morbidly obese adults (BMI: 42 ± 0.9 kg/m2, 10 males and 24 females) underwent a VLCD for 2 weeks consisting of 820 kcal/day and 105-grams protein/day. Before the start of the VLCD (baseline), the whole-body production (WBP) rates of multiple amino acids involved in protein metabolism (e.g., glycine (GLY), glutamine (GLN), phenylalanine (PHE), tyrosine (TYR), and arginine (ARG)) were measured after IV pulse administration of their stable isotopes. Weight loss and body composition by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry were assessed after 2 weeks of the VLCD. Baseline plasma enrichments were measured by LC-MS/MS. Data are presented as mean ± SE. Statistics are performed by Pearson correlation tests.
The magnitude of the BW loss after 2 weeks of the VLCD differed between males and females (7.0 ± 0.7 kg vs. 4.1 ± 0.2 kg, P > 0.0001, respectively) with a higher reduction in lean body mass observed in men than women (4.3 ± 0.8 kg vs. 2.7 ± 0.4 kg, P > 0.05). Although, females had significantly reduced baseline WBP of ARG (7.3% vs. 2%, P = 0.0027), GLY (22.8% vs. 3.6%, P > 0.001), and PHE (4.8% vs. 3.1%, P = 0.018) in comparison to men, two weeks of the VLCD had a comparable effect on multiple amino acid WBP in both genders. Suppressed contractile myofibrillar protein breakdown rate was observed in both groups (13% vs. baseline, P = 0.02) with no gender difference in net protein breakdown (PHE to TYR conversion rate). Hence, increased catabolism in men cannot be explained by a different response to the 2 weeks of a calorie-restricted diet.
Despite gender differences in body weight loss and changes in composition in response to a Very Low-Calorie Diet, changes in whole-body amino acid kinetics are not differently affected in men and women.
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