High-intensity intermittent exercise attenuates ad-libitum energy intake

Int J Obes (Lond). 2014 Mar;38(3):417-22. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2013.102. Epub 2013 Jun 4.


Objective: To examine the acute effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) on energy intake, perceptions of appetite and appetite-related hormones in sedentary, overweight men.

Design: Seventeen overweight men (body mass index: 27.7±1.6 kg m(-2); body mass: 89.8±10.1 kg; body fat: 30.0±4.3%; VO(2peak): 39.2±4.8 ml kg(-1) min(-1)) completed four 30-min experimental conditions using a randomised counterbalanced design. CON: resting control, MC: continuous moderate-intensity exercise (60% VO(2peak)), HI: high-intensity intermittent exercise (alternating 60 s at 100% VO(2peak) and 240 s at 50% VO(2peak)), VHI: very-high-intensity intermittent exercise (alternating 15 s at 170% VO(2peak) and 60 s at 32% VO(2peak)). Participants consumed a standard caloric meal following exercise/CON and an ad-libitum meal 70 min later. Capillary blood was sampled and perceived appetite assessed at regular time intervals throughout the session. Free-living energy intake and physical activity levels for the experimental day and the day after were also assessed.

Results: Ad-libitum energy intake was lower after HI and VHI compared with CON (P=0.038 and P=0.004, respectively), and VHI was also lower than MC (P=0.028). Free-living energy intake in the subsequent 38 h remained less after VHI compared with CON and MC (P≤0.050). These observations were associated with lower active ghrelin (P≤0.050), higher blood lactate (P≤0.014) and higher blood glucose (P≤0.020) after VHI compared with all other trials. Despite higher heart rate and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) during HI and VHI compared with MC (P≤0.004), ratings of physical activity enjoyment were similar between all the exercise trials (P=0.593). No differences were found in perceived appetite between trials.

Conclusions: High-intensity intermittent exercise suppresses subsequent ad-libitum energy intake in overweight inactive men. This format of exercise was found to be well tolerated in an overweight population.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Appetite*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Mass Index
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Exercise*
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Ghrelin / blood
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Male
  • Overweight / blood
  • Overweight / metabolism*
  • Overweight / therapy*
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Ghrelin
  • Insulin
  • Lactic Acid