The effect of graded levels of exercise on energy intake and balance in free-living men, consuming their normal diet

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002 Feb;56(2):129-40. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601295.


Objective: To assess the effect of graded increases in exercised-induced energy expenditure (EE) on appetite, energy intake (EI), total daily EE and body weight in men living in their normal environment and consuming their usual diets.

Design: Within-subject, repeated measures design. Six men (mean (s.d.) age 31.0 (5.0) y; weight 75.1 (15.96) kg; height 1.79 (0.10) m; body mass index (BMI) 23.3(2.4) kg/m(2)), were each studied three times during a 9 day protocol, corresponding to prescriptions of no exercise, (control) (Nex; 0 MJ/day), medium exercise level (Mex; approximately 1.6 MJ/day) and high exercise level (Hex; approximately 3.2 MJ/day). On days 1-2 subjects were given a medium fat (MF) maintenance diet (1.6 x resting metabolic rate (RMR)).

Measurements: On days 3-9 subjects self-recorded dietary intake using a food diary and self-weighed intake. EE was assessed by continual heart rate monitoring, using the modified FLEX method. Subjects' HR (heart rate) was individually calibrated against submaximal VO(2) during incremental exercise tests at the beginning and end of each 9 day study period. Respiratory exchange was measured by indirect calorimetry. Subjects completed hourly hunger ratings during waking hours to record subjective sensations of hunger and appetite. Body weight was measured daily.

Results: EE amounted to 11.7, 12.9 and 16.8 MJ/day (F(2,10)=48.26; P<0.001 (s.e.d=0.55)) on the Nex, Mex and Hex treatments, respectively. The corresponding values for EI were 11.6, 11.8 and 11.8 MJ/day (F(2,10)=0.10; P=0.910 (s.e.d.=0.10)), respectively. There were no treatment effects on hunger, appetite or body weight, but there was evidence of weight loss on the Hex treatment.

Conclusion: Increasing EE did not lead to compensation of EI over 7 days. However, total daily EE tended to decrease over time on the two exercise treatments. Lean men appear able to tolerate a considerable negative energy balance, induced by exercise, over 7 days without invoking compensatory increases in EI.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Appetite / physiology
  • Body Mass Index
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Calorimetry, Indirect
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Diet Records
  • Energy Intake / physiology*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Heart Rate
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oxygen Consumption