Purpose of review: To examine the relationship between energy intake, appetite control and exercise, with particular reference to longer term exercise studies. This approach is necessary when exploring the benefits of exercise for weight control, as changes in body weight and energy intake are variable and reflect diversity in weight loss.
Recent findings: Recent evidence indicates that longer term exercise is characterized by a highly variable response in eating behaviour. Individuals display susceptibility or resistance to exercise-induced weight loss, with changes in energy intake playing a key role in determining the degree of weight loss achieved. Marked differences in hunger and energy intake exist between those who are capable of tolerating periods of exercise-induced energy deficit, and those who are not. Exercise-induced weight loss can increase the orexigenic drive in the fasted state, but for some this is offset by improved postprandial satiety signalling.
Summary: The biological and behavioural responses to acute and long-term exercise are highly variable, and these responses interact to determine the propensity for weight change. For some people, long-term exercise stimulates compensatory increases in energy intake that attenuate weight loss. However, favourable changes in body composition and health markers still exist in the absence of weight loss. The physiological mechanisms that confer susceptibility to compensatory overconsumption still need to be determined.