Effect of Aerobic Exercise-induced Weight Loss on the Components of Daily Energy Expenditure

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2021 Oct 1;53(10):2164-2172. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000002689.


Introduction: Exercise usually results in less weight loss than expected. This suggests increased energy intake and/or deceased expenditure counteract the energy deficit induced by exercise. The aim of this study was to evaluate changes in components of daily energy expenditure (doubly labeled water and room calorimetry) after 24 wk of exercise training with two doses of aerobic exercise.

Methods: This was an ancillary study in 42 (29 women, 13 men) sedentary, middle-age (47.8 ± 12.5 yr) individuals with obesity (35 ± 3.7 kg·m-2) enrolled in the Examination of Mechanisms of Exercise-induced Weight Compensation study. Subjects were randomized to three groups: healthy living control group (n = 13), aerobic exercise that expended 8 kcal·kg-1 of body weight per week (8 KKW, n = 14), or aerobic exercise that expended 20 kcal per kilogram of weight per week (20 KKW, n = 15). Total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) was measured in free-living condition by doubly labeled water and in sedentary conditions in a metabolic chamber over 24 h (24EE). Energy intake was calculated over 14 d from TDEE before and after the intervention using the intake-balance method.

Results: Significant weight loss occurred with 20 KKW (-2.1 ± 0.7 kg, P = 0.04) but was only half of expected. In the 20 KKW group free-living TDEE increased by ~4% (P = 0.03), which is attributed to the increased exercise energy expenditure (P = 0.001), while 24EE in the chamber decreased by ~4% (P = 0.04). Aerobic exercise at 8 KKW did not induce weight change, and there was no significant change in any component of EE. There was no significant change in energy intake for any group (P = 0.53).

Conclusions: Structured aerobic exercise at a dose of 20 KKW produced less weight loss than expected possibly due to behavioral adaptations leading to reduced 24EE in a metabolic chamber without any change in energy intake.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Body Fat Distribution
  • Calorimetry, Indirect
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Weight Loss / physiology*