Exercise training and weight loss, not always a happy marriage: single blind exercise trials in females with diverse BMI

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2018 Apr;43(4):363-370. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2017-0577. Epub 2017 Nov 2.


Individuals show high variability in body weight responses to exercise training. Expectations and motivation towards effects of exercise on body weight might influence eating behaviour and could conceal regulatory mechanisms. We conducted 2 single-blind exercise trials (4 weeks (study 1) and 8 weeks (study 2)) with concealed objectives and exclusion of individuals with weight loss intention. Circuit exercise training programs (3 times a week (45-90 min), intensity 50%-90% peak oxygen uptake for 4 and 8 weeks) were conducted. Thirty-four females finished the 4-week intervention and 36 females the 8-week intervention. Overweight/obese (OV/OB) and lean female participants' weight/body composition responses were assessed and fasting and postprandial appetite hormone levels (PYY, insulin, amylin, leptin, ghrelin) were measured before and after the intervention for understanding potential contribution to individuals' body weight response to exercise training (study 2). Exercise training in both studies did not lead to a significant reduction of weight/body mass index (BMI) in the participants' groups; however, lean participants gained muscle mass. Appetite hormones levels were significantly (p < 0.05) altered in the OV/OB group, affecting fasting (-24%) and postprandial amylin (-14%) levels. Investigation of individuals' BMI responses using multiple regression analysis revealed that levels of fasting leptin, postprandial amylin increase, and BMI were significant predictors of BMI change, explaining about 43% of the variance. In conclusion, tested exercise training did not lead to weight loss in female participants, while a considerable proportion of variance in body weight response to training could be explained by individuals' appetite hormone levels and BMI.

Keywords: body mass maintenance; energy regulation; exercice physique; exercise; hormones; maintien de la masse corporelle; obesity; obésité; régulation énergétique.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity
  • Appetite Regulation
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Circuit-Based Exercise / methods*
  • Exercise*
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Female
  • Hormones / blood
  • Humans
  • Lipids / blood
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Obesity / psychology
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Physical Conditioning, Human / methods*
  • Sex Factors
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Wales
  • Weight Loss*


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Hormones
  • Lipids