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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: The Thermic Effect of Alcohol in the Diets of Alcoholics

Authors
item Rumpler, William
item Douglas, Beth - JOHNS HOPKINS UNIV
item Bigelow, George - JOHNS HOPKINS UNIV
item Strain, Eric - JOHNS HOPKINS UNIV
item Gentry, Tom - NIH
item Lands, William - NIH

Submitted to: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 28, 1996
Publication Date: September 1, 1996
Citation: Rumpler, W.V., Douglas, B., Bigelow, G., Strain, E., Gentry, T., Lands, W. 1996. The thermic effect of alcohol in the diets of alcoholics. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Interpretive Summary: Several studies have observed that individuals who consume substantial quantities of alcohol appear to be leaner than individuals who avoid alcohol consumption in spite of the observation that drinkers have a higher intake of total energy. One of the possible compensatory mechanisms for dealing with the additional energy has been proposed to be a substantial increase in metabolic rate in response to alcohol consumption. In this study eleven alcoholic volunteers participated in a study to determine the impact of high levels of alcohol consumption on the metabolic rate of chronic alcohol abusers The participants were, 8 males and 3 females, 38 to 53 y of age with an average body mass index (BMI) of 23 and body fat of 23%. Participants had their energy expenditure determined for 3 24h periods while consuming 0%, 30% and 60% of their calories as alcohol. Energy expenditure averaged 9% higher when the subject received medium level and 12% higher when receiving the high level when compared to the measurement when no alcohol was consumed. Their energy expenditure was increased by the consumption of alcohol. However, the increase was insufficient to account for all of the calories in the alcohol. This suggests that alcoholics must be substituting alcohol for food in order to maintain their weight.

Technical Abstract: Eleven alcoholic volunteers participated in a study to determine the impact of high levels of alcohol consumption on the metabolic rate of chronic alcohol abusers. The participants were, 8 males and 3 females, 38 to 53 y of age with a average body mass index (BMI) of 23 and body fat of 23% The study was conducted in three consecutive phases: stabilization, measurement with alcohol, detoxification; measurement with no alcohol. Subjects were admitted to the residential unit of the BPRU, provided regular meals and participated in a daily standardized dosing , at 2.0 g ethanol /kg body wt/d, regimen for 5 7 days. They were then transported to the BHNRC for a 60 h measurement in the room calorimeter. Two levels of alcohol consumption were tested during the measurment 1.5 and 3.0 g ethanol/kg body weight /d . Subjects were then transported back to the BPRU for a 5 day detoxification which was followed by a 36 h measurement in the calorimeter while consuming no alcohol. There were no significant differences between energy expenditure determined by either direct or indirect calorimetry. The direct measurement of heat production resulted in within 1% of those determined by indirect calorimetry of 8987, 9813 and 10123 kJ/d on the zero, 1.5 and 3.0 treatment levels. Energy expenditure averaged 9% higher when the subject received 1.5 level and 12% higher when receiving the 3 level when compared to the 0 level. The increase in energy expenditure from 1.5 level to the 3 level was only about half as great as the increase from the 0 level to the 1.5 level. The thermic effect of the alcohol consumed was higher (25%) for the 0 to 1.5 level than the 0 to 3 level (19%) or the 1.5 to 3 levels (12%).

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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