Control of energy expenditure in humans

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2017 Mar;71(3):340-344. doi: 10.1038/ejcn.2016.237. Epub 2016 Nov 30.


Energy expenditure is determined by body size and body composition and by food intake and physical activity. Body size and body composition are the determinants of resting energy expenditure. Higher weight results in higher energy requirement through a higher resting requirement because of a higher maintenance cost of a larger body. Activity-induced energy expenditure is the most variable component of total energy expenditure. Smaller and leaner subjects generally move more as activity energy expenditure in larger subjects is not higher in proportion to the cost of moving with a higher body weight. Food intake induces changes in energy expenditure as a function of changes in body size and body composition. In addition, energy restriction induces an adaptive reduction of energy expenditure through a lowering of tissue metabolism and a reduction of body movement. An exercise-induced increase in activity expenditure is a function of the training status. In untrained subjects, exercise induces a larger increase in total energy expenditure than can be attributed to the energy cost of a training program. Trained subjects have a higher performance at the same expenditure through a higher exercise economy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Composition*
  • Eating
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Rest