Are there sex differences in the variability of fasting metabolism?

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There is evidence across species and across many traits that males display greater between-individual variance. In contrast, (premenopausal) females display large within-individual variance in sex hormone concentrations, which can increase within-individual variance in many other parameters. The latter may contribute to the lower representation of females in metabolic research. This study is a pooled secondary analysis of data from 7 crossover studies to investigate the between-individual and the within-individual variance in fasting plasma metabolites, resting metabolic rate (RMR) and body mass. Females demonstrated higher within-individual variability of plasma 17β-estradiol (CV 15±15 % for males vs 38±34 % for females, p<0.001) and progesterone concentrations (CV 13±11 % for males vs 52±51 % for females, p<0.001) but there were no meaningful differences in the variability of plasma glucose (CV 4±3 % for males vs 5 ± 5 % for females), insulin, lactate, triglycerides (CV 15±9 % for males vs 15 ± 10 % for females), and non-esterified fatty acid concentrations, nor in RMR and body mass (CV 0.43±0.34 % for males vs for 0.42±0.33 % females; p>0.05 for all outcomes). Males displayed higher between-individual variance in RMR compared to females (SD 224 kcal×day-1 for males vs 151 kcal×day-1 for females). In conclusion, these data do not provide evidence that females show greater within-individual variability in many fasting metabolic variables, RMR or body mass compared to males. We conclude that including females in metabolic research is unlikely to introduce greater within-individual variance when using the recruitment and control procedures described in these studies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Publication statusAcceptance date - 11 Apr 2024

Data Availability Statement

Previously published data for this study are openly available at Unpublished data will be available here upon publication.

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