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Am J Clin Nutr. 2014 Feb;99(2):258-67. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.071381. Epub 2013 Dec 4.

The effects of high-intensity exercise on neural responses to images of food.

Author information

1
University of Aberdeen, Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen, United Kingdom (DRC); the Department of Investigative Medicine, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom (ESC); the Human Brain Physiology and Stimulation Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD (RMH); and the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom (AKB).

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Acute bouts of high-intensity exercise modulate peripheral appetite regulating hormones to transiently suppress hunger. However, the effects of physical activity on central appetite regulation have yet to be fully investigated.

OBJECTIVE:

We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare neural responses to visual food stimuli after intense exercise and rest.

DESIGN:

Fifteen lean healthy men [mean ± SD age: 22.5 ± 3.1 y; mean ± SD body mass index (in kg/m(2)): 24.2 ± 2.4] completed two 60-min trials-exercise (EX; running at ∼70% maximum aerobic capacity) and a resting control trial (REST)-in a counterbalanced order. After each trial, an fMRI assessment was completed in which images of high- and low-calorie foods were viewed.

RESULTS:

EX significantly suppressed subjective appetite responses while increasing thirst and core-body temperature. Furthermore, EX significantly suppressed ghrelin concentrations and significantly enhanced peptide YY release. Neural responses to images of high-calorie foods significantly increased dorsolateral prefrontal cortex activation and suppressed orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and hippocampus activation after EX compared with REST. After EX, low-calorie food images increased insula and putamen activation and reduced OFC activation compared with REST. Furthermore, left pallidum activity was significantly elevated after EX when low-calorie images were viewed and was suppressed when high-calorie images were viewed, and these responses correlated significantly with thirst.

CONCLUSIONS:

Exercise increases neural responses in reward-related regions of the brain in response to images of low-calorie foods and suppresses activation during the viewing of high-calorie foods. These central responses are associated with exercise-induced changes in peripheral signals related to appetite-regulation and hydration status. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01926431.

PMID:
24305681
DOI:
10.3945/ajcn.113.071381
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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