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

Jean K. Tews, Joyce J. Repa, Alfred E. Harper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)699-712
Number of pages14
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1992


  • Adaptation
  • Behavior
  • Diet
  • Food choice
  • Food intake
  • Growth
  • Protein selection
  • Protein source

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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