Impact of different exercise intensities on prospective food intake
Background: To address the increasing rates of overweight and obesity, exercise is often promoted. However,
the ability of exercise alone to produce weight loss is smaller than expected due to compensatory
eating, which is defined as increased post-exercise food intake. The purpose of the present study was to
assess whether exercise intensity differentially impact post-exercise food intake.
› Methods: Twenty-five healthy, regularly exercising and normal-weight participants (26.5 ± 7.4 years old; 21.7
± 1.7 kg/m2; 44% female) completed an exercise bout (5km run) at either high intensity (HIE) or moderate
intensity (MIE) in randomized order. Participants completed a survey to assess hypothetical food choices
before (pre), immediately after (post) and 30 minutes after exercising (post30). Preferred hypothetical food
amount preference and intertemporal preferences (immediate vs. delayed consumption) were analyzed
using electronic questionnaires including different food types varying in palatability and energy density,
presented as visual food cues.
› Results: When compared with pre, preferred food amount for immediate consumption increased significantly
post-exercise only in MIE (179 ± 71 vs. 140 ± 65 kcal per item, p=0,005) but not in HIE (156 ± 74 vs.
145 ± 54 kcal per item, p=0,532). As a result, the increase in preferred food amount over the course of the
exercise bout was significantly greater in MIE (per item) when compared to HIE (+39 ± 58 vs. +11 ± 66 kcal
per item, p=0,029). At post30, selected food amount preference was greater than pre in both conditions (HIE:
223 ± 79 kcal; MIE: 223 ± 83 kcal; both p<0,01). The choice for immediate consumption increased in both
conditions over time from pre to post (p<0,021) and post30 (p<0,01), but there were no significant differences
in intertemporal preference between HIE and MIE at any time point.
› Conclusion: Our results suggest that high intensity exercise might be less vulnerable to a compensatory
eating. However, this reduction in food intake seems to exist only for a short period in the immediate
post-exercise state. Future studies need to determine whether these differences between exercise intensities
can improve the efficacy of exercise as a weight loss intervention.
Dewey Decimal Classification:
610 Medizin und Gesundheit; 790 Sport, Spiele, Unterhaltung