Metabolism: clinical and experimental

No effect of caloric restriction on salivary cortisol levels in overweight men and women.

PMID 24268369


The effect of weight loss by diet or diet and exercise on salivary cortisol levels, a measure of hypothalamic pituitary adrenal activity, in overweight individuals is not known. The objective was to test the hypothesis that 24 weeks of moderate caloric restriction (CR) (25%) by diet or diet and aerobic exercise would alter morning and diurnal salivary cortisol levels. Randomized control trial in an institutional research center. Thirty-five overweight (BMI: 27.8±0.7 kg/m(2)) but otherwise healthy participants (16 M/19 F). Participants were randomized to either calorie restriction (CR: 25% reduction in energy intake, n=12), calorie restriction+exercise (CR+EX: 12.5% reduction in energy intake+12.5% increase in exercise energy expenditure, n=12) or control (healthy weight-maintenance diet, n=11) for 6 months. Salivary cortisol measured at 8:00, 8:30, 11:00, 11:30, 12:30, 13:00, 16:00 and 16:30. Morning cortisol was defined as the mean cortisol concentration at 08:00 and 08:30. Diurnal cortisol was calculated as the mean of the 8 cortisol measures across the day. In the whole cohort, higher morning and diurnal cortisol levels were associated with impaired insulin sensitivity (morning: P=0.004, r(2)=0.24; diurnal: P=0.02, r(2)=0.15). Using mixed model analysis, there was no significant effect of group, time or sex on morning or diurnal cortisol levels. A 10% weight loss with a 25% CR diet alone or with exercise did not impact morning or diurnal salivary cortisol levels.