Acute exercise and subsequent energy intake. A meta-analysis

Appetite. 2013 Apr;63:92-104. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2012.12.010. Epub 2012 Dec 28.


The precise magnitude of the effect of acute exercise on subsequent energy intake is not well understood. Identifying how large a deficit exercise can produce in energy intake and whether this is compensated for, is important in design of long-term exercise programs for weight loss and weight maintenance. Thus, this paper sought to review and perform a meta-analysis on data from the existing literature. Twenty-nine studies, consisting of 51 trials, were identified for inclusion. Exercise duration ranged from 30 to 120min at intensities of 36-81% VO(2)max, with trials ranging from 2 to 14h, and ad libitum test meals offered 0-2h post-exercise. The outcome variables included absolute energy intake and relative energy intake. A random effects model was employed for analysis due to expected heterogeneity. Results indicated that exercise has a trivial effect on absolute energy intake (n=51; ES=0.14, 95% CI: -0.005 to 0.29) and a large effect on relative energy intake (creating an energy deficit, n=25; ES=-1.35, 95% CI: -1.64 to -1.05). Despite variability among studies, results suggest that exercise is effective for producing a short-term energy deficit and that individuals tend not to compensate for the energy expended during exercise in the immediate hours after exercise by altering food intake.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Databases, Factual
  • Energy Intake*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Weight Loss