Impact of high-intensity exercise on energy expenditure, lipid oxidation and body fatness

Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2001 Mar;25(3):332-9. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijo.0801554.


Objective: Two studies were conducted to assess the potential of an increase in exercise intensity to alter energy and lipid metabolism and body fatness under conditions mimicking real life.

Methods: Study 1 was based on the comparison of adiposity markers obtained in 352 male healthy adults who participated in the Québec Family Study who either regularly participated in high-intensity physical activities or did not. Study 2 was designed to determine the effects of high-intensity exercise on post-exercise post-prandial energy and lipid metabolism as well as the contribution of beta-adrenergic stimulation to such differences under a real-life setting.

Results: Results from Study 1 showed that men who regularly take part in intense physical activities display lower fat percentage and subcutaneous adiposity than men who never perform such activities, and this was true even if the latter group reported a lower energy intake (917 kJ/day, P<0.05). In Study 2, the high-intensity exercise stimulus produced a greater post-exercise post-prandial oxygen consumption as well as fat oxidation than the resting session, an effect which disappeared with the addition of propranolol. In addition, the increase in post-prandial oxygen consumption observed after the high-intensity exercise session was also significantly greater than that promoted by the low-intensity exercise session.

Conclusion: These results suggest that high-intensity exercise favors a lesser body fat deposition which might be related to an increase in post-exercise energy metabolism that is mediated by beta-adrenergic stimulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Body Composition*
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Male
  • Propranolol / pharmacology
  • Skinfold Thickness


  • Propranolol