Circadian misalignment imposed by nocturnal feeding tends to increase fat deposition in pigs

Rik J.J. Van Erp*, Sonja De Vries, Theo A.T.G. Van Kempen, Leo A. Den Hartog, Walter J.J. Gerrits

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Misalignment of day/night and feeding rhythms has been shown to increase fat deposition and the risk for metabolic disorders in humans and rodents. In most studies, however, food intake and intake patterns are not controlled. We studied the effects of circadian misalignment on energy expenditure in pigs while controlling for food intake as well as intake patterns. Twelve groups of five male pigs were housed in respiration chambers and fed either during the day (10.00-18.00 hours; DF) or night (22.00-06.00 hours; NF), bihourly the same sequential meals, representing 15, 10, 25, 30 and 20 % of the daily allowance. Paired feeding was applied to ensure equal gross energy intake between treatments. Apparent total tract digestibility, energy balances and heat partitioning were measured and analysed using a mixed linear model. Apparent total tract energy and DM digestibility tended to be lower for NF-pigs than DF-pigs (P < 0·10). Heat production was 3 % lower for NF-pigs than DF-pigs (P < 0·026), increasing fat retention by 7 % in NF-pigs (P = 0·050). NF-pigs were less active than DF-pigs during the feeding period, but more active during the fasting period. RMR was greater for DF-pigs than NF-pigs during the fasting period. Methane production was 30 % greater in NF-pigs than DF-pigs (P < 0·001). In conclusion, circadian misalignment has little effect on nutrient digestion, but alters nutrient partitioning, ultimately increasing fat deposition. The causality of the association between circadian misalignment and methane production rates remains to be investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-536
Number of pages8
JournalBritish Journal of Nutrition
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2020


  • Circadian clock
  • Energy metabolism
  • Feed intake patterns
  • Heat production
  • Methane production


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