1. The influence of a low-energy diet when associated with high-cholesterol intake was investigated in seventeen normal men during an 8-week cross-over study. The subjects were given a daily supplement of two whole eggs and two egg yolks (approximately 1 g cholesterol) either with their usual diet for 4 weeks or with a low-energy diet for 4 weeks. Each subject took part randomly in both dietary periods.
2. During the first part of the study, no changes occurred in the plasma cholesterol of the subjects with egg supplementation of the usual diet.
3. In contrast, the low-energy diet and associated weight loss markedly decreased the tolerance to high- cholesterol intake resulting in increased plasma cholesterol. The mean rise was 22.7% but with wide individual variations in the response. This was almost completely normalized when the subjects returned to their usual energy intake indicating the involvement of weight reduction in the increase observed.
4. Changes in low-density-lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol were parallel to those of total plasma cholesterol with an increase following the low-energy diet and normalization after body-weight recovery.
5. The opposite effect was shown with the low-energy diet after previous adaptation to the consumption of four eggs per day. This dietary regimen resulted in a decrease in plasma cholesterol although it was not significant. Moreover, the lipoprotein profile was improved with a decrease in very-low-density-lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol and an increase in high-density-lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol.
6. High-cholesterol intake induced significant changes in lipoprotein composition whatever the energy ration. LDL and HDL were enriched in cholesterol esters as early as the 1st month of egg supplementation of the diet.
7. Taken together, the results emphasize the possible adverse effect of slimming diets when associated with high-cholesterol intake. The existence of ‘high-responders’ to these dietary conditions calls for special attention to be paid to the cholesterol content of restricted diets.