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Physiol Behav. 1992 Apr;51(4):699-712.

Protein selection by rats adapted to high or moderately low levels of dietary protein.

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Department of Biochemistry, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison 53706.


After preliminary studies on flavor acceptability, patterns and indices of subsequent feeding behavior were monitored by computer in young rats which were adapted to 15% or 70% casein diets before being offered, sequentially, choices between flavored diet pairs in which the proportions of percentage casein were 5/65, 5/55, 5/45, 5/35 and 5/25. Similarly adapted rats received these choices in the reverse sequence. Rats adapted to 15% casein usually ate randomly from the diet pairs and selected approximately 15-30% casein; individual behaviors were prominent. The 70% casein groups avoided the higher casein diet, often within minutes (except for the first-offered 5/25 choice), and seldom selected more than 10% casein; individual differences were infrequent. Such rats also distinguished between flavored 70% and 65% casein diets. Sizes and numbers of meals and rates of eating differed for the paired diets, especially for rats adapted to 70% casein. A flavor added to the 70% casein adaptation diet was not avoided when present only in the 5% casein diet of a 5/65 choice. Rats adapted to 70% soy protein before receiving flavored 5/65 to 5/25 choices selected 20-28% soy protein, a level far above those of casein selections by rats adapted to 70% casein. Dietary adaptation and type of protein thus affect subsequent diet selection and feeding patterns and indices.

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