A greater decrease in 24-h energy expenditure (24 EE) during 24-h fasting defines a “thriftier” metabolic phenotype prone to weight gain during overfeeding and resistant to weight loss during caloric restriction. As the thermogenic response to mild cold exposure (COLD) may similarly characterize this human phenotype identified by acute fasting conditions, we analyzed changes in 24 EE and sleeping metabolic rate (SLEEP) in a whole-room indirect calorimeter during 24-h fasting at thermoneutrality (24°C) and during energy balance both at thermoneutrality (24°C) and mild cold (19°C) in 20 healthy volunteers (80% male; aged 36.6 ± 11.4 years; percentage body fat 34.8 ± 10.5%). Greater decrease in 24 EE during fasting (thriftier phenotype) was associated with less increase in 24 EE during COLD (i.e., less cold-induced thermogenesis). Greater decreases in plasma fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) after 24-h fasting and after COLD were highly correlated and associated with greater decreases in SLEEP in both conditions. We conclude that the metabolic responses to short-term fasting and COLD are associated with and mediated by the liver-derived hormone FGF21. Thus, the 24 EE response to COLD further identifies the “thrifty” versus “spendthrift” phenotype, providing an additional setting to investigate the physiological mechanisms underlying the human metabolic phenotype and characterizing the individual susceptibility to weight change.
- Received February 12, 2020.
- Accepted April 21, 2020.
- © 2020 by the American Diabetes Association