Mice that exercise after meals gain less body weight and visceral fat compared to those that exercised before meals under a one meal/exercise time per day schedule. Humans generally eat two or three meals per day, and rarely have only one meal. To extend our previous observations, we examined here whether a "two meals, two exercise sessions per day" schedule was optimal in terms of maintaining a healthy body weight. In this experiment, "morning" refers to the beginning of the active phase (the "morning" for nocturnal animals). We found that 2-h feeding before 2-h exercise in the morning and evening (F-Ex/F-Ex) resulted in greater attenuation of high fat diet (HFD)-induced weight gain compared to other combinations of feeding and exercise under two daily meals and two daily exercise periods. There were no significant differences in total food intake and total wheel counts, but feeding before exercise in the morning groups (F-Ex/F-Ex and F-Ex/Ex-F) increased the morning wheel counts. These results suggest that habitual exercise after feeding in the morning and evening is more effective for preventing HFD-induced weight gain. We also determined whether there were any correlations between food intake, wheel rotation, visceral fat volume and skeletal muscle volumes. We found positive associations between gastrocnemius muscle volumes and morning wheel counts, as well as negative associations between morning food intake volumes/body weight and morning wheel counts. These results suggest that morning exercise-induced increase of muscle volume may refer to anti-obesity. Evening exercise is negatively associated with fat volume increases, suggesting that this practice may counteract fat deposition. Our multifactorial analysis revealed that morning food intake helps to increase exercise, and that evening exercise reduced fat volumes. Thus, exercise in the morning or evening is important for preventing the onset of obesity.
Keywords: Circadian rhythm; exercise; meal and exercise timing; obesity.