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Thermodynamics of weight loss diets

Overview of attention for article published in Nutrition & Metabolism, December 2004
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • Among the highest-scoring outputs from this source (#23 of 1,016)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (99th percentile)

Mentioned by

28 news outlets
3 blogs
24 X users
7 Facebook pages
1 Wikipedia page
1 Google+ user
1 YouTube creator


103 Dimensions

Readers on

211 Mendeley
2 CiteULike
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Thermodynamics of weight loss diets
Published in
Nutrition & Metabolism, December 2004
DOI 10.1186/1743-7075-1-15
Pubmed ID

Eugene J Fine, Richard D Feinman


BACKGROUND: It is commonly held that "a calorie is a calorie", i.e. that diets of equal caloric content will result in identical weight change independent of macronutrient composition, and appeal is frequently made to the laws of thermodynamics. We have previously shown that thermodynamics does not support such a view and that diets of different macronutrient content may be expected to induce different changes in body mass. Low carbohydrate diets in particular have claimed a "metabolic advantage" meaning more weight loss than in isocaloric diets of higher carbohydrate content. In this review, for pedagogic clarity, we reframe the theoretical discussion to directly link thermodynamic inefficiency to weight change. The problem in outline: Is metabolic advantage theoretically possible? If so, what biochemical mechanisms might plausibly explain it? Finally, what experimental evidence exists to determine whether it does or does not occur? RESULTS: Reduced thermodynamic efficiency will result in increased weight loss. The laws of thermodynamics are silent on the existence of variable thermodynamic efficiency in metabolic processes. Therefore such variability is permitted and can be related to differences in weight lost. The existence of variable efficiency and metabolic advantage is therefore an empiric question rather than a theoretical one, confirmed by many experimental isocaloric studies, pending a properly performed meta-analysis. Mechanisms are as yet unknown, but plausible mechanisms at the metabolic level are proposed. CONCLUSIONS: Variable thermodynamic efficiency due to dietary manipulation is permitted by physical laws, is supported by much experimental data, and may be reasonably explained by plausible mechanisms.

X Demographics

X Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 24 X users who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.
Mendeley readers

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 211 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United States 4 2%
United Kingdom 2 <1%
Brazil 2 <1%
Netherlands 1 <1%
Argentina 1 <1%
Ghana 1 <1%
Unknown 200 95%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Bachelor 43 20%
Student > Master 31 15%
Researcher 25 12%
Student > Ph. D. Student 20 9%
Other 16 8%
Other 41 19%
Unknown 35 17%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 47 22%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 33 16%
Sports and Recreations 19 9%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 17 8%
Nursing and Health Professions 16 8%
Other 35 17%
Unknown 44 21%
Attention Score in Context

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 250. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 13 February 2024.
All research outputs
of 25,459,177 outputs
Outputs from Nutrition & Metabolism
of 1,016 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 152,347 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Nutrition & Metabolism
of 4 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 25,459,177 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 99th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 1,016 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 28.7. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 97% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 152,347 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 99% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 4 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has scored higher than 2 of them.