Jean, C., Fromentin, G., Tomé, D., & Larue-Achagiotis, C. (2002). Wistar rats allowed to self-select macronutrients from weaning to maturity choose a high-protein, high-lipid diet. Physiology & behavior, 76(1), 65–73. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12175590
The aim of this work was to study the evolution of rat food choice in relation to their age and metabolic parameters. Eighty Wistar rats were studied from birth to 13 weeks of age. At weaning, six litters were fed on a macronutrient self-selecting diet and four on a standard diet. In self-selecting males, protein intake was maximal at Week 7 of age and then plateaued (Week 13), whereas in females, protein consumption peaked at Week 7 and then steadily decreased. Females showed a strong and early preference for fat, which increased continuously with age. Males and females ingested their total energy intake during the dark period (respectively, 79% and 70%). Simple meals (composed of one item) were mainly ingested during the light phase, while mixed meals (at least two items) were ingested during the night. In males, most mixed meals began with carbohydrate bouts and finished with proteins, while in females no particular choice was observed at the beginning of meals, but most of them ended with protein bouts. Body weights of either male and female self-selecting or control fed rats were not significantly different at the end of the experiment. Differences between dietary groups in body fat mass were not observed with the exception of higher subcutaneous fat found in self-selecting rats. Moreover, insulinemia was lower in both male and female self-selecting rats. The high-protein, high-fat diet chosen by the self-selecting rats could be linked to a prevention of the age-related insulin resistance.