Dietary Temperature’s Influence on Energy Balance in Humans: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial and Crossover Design

Reza Rastmanesh, Kyle D. Flack

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: According to the first law of thermodynamics, energy cannot be created or destroyed in an isolated system. Water has a characteristically high heat capacity, indicating that the temperature of ingested fluids and meals could contribute to energy homeostasis. Citing the underlying molecular mechanisms, we present a novel hypothesis that states that the temperature of one’s food and drink contributes to energy balance and plays a role in the development of obesity. We provide strong associations with certain molecular mechanisms that are activated by heat and correlate them with obesity and a hypothetical trial that could test this hypothesis. We conclude that if meal or drink temperature proves to contribute to energy homeostasis, then depending on its contribution and scale, future clinical trials should attempt to adjust this effect when analyzing data. In addition, previous research and established relationships of disease states with dietary patterns, energy intake, and food component intakes should be revisited. We understand the common assumption that thermal energy in food is absorbed by the body during digestion and dissipated as heat into the environment, not contributing to the energy balance. We challenge this assumption herein, including a proposed study design that would test our hypothesis. Objective: This paper hypothesizes that the temperature of ingested foods or fluids influences energy homeostasis through the expression of heat shock proteins (HSPs), especially HSP-70 and HSP-90, which are expressed to a greater extent in obesity and are known to cause deficits in glucose metabolism. Methods: We provide preliminary evidence supporting our hypothesis that greater dietary temperatures disproportionally induce activation of both intracellular and extracellular HSPs and that these HSPs influence energy balance and contribute to obesity. Results: This trial protocol has not been initiated and funding has not been sought at the time of this publication. Conclusions: To date, no clinical trials are available regarding the potential effects of meal and fluid temperature on weight status or its confounding effects in data analysis. A potential mechanism is proposed as a basis by which higher temperatures of foods and beverages might influence energy balance via HSP expression. On the basis of the evidence supporting our hypothesis, we propose a clinical trial that will further elucidate these mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere42846
JournalJMIR Research Protocols
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
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  • clinical trial
  • design of study
  • dietary temperature
  • energy conservation
  • energy intake
  • heat shock proteins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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