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Int J Obes (Lond). 2017 Dec;41(12):1737-1744. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2017.181. Epub 2017 Aug 3.

Acute effects of exercise on appetite, ad libitum energy intake and appetite-regulatory hormones in lean and overweight/obese men and women.

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National Centre for Sport and Exercise Medicine, School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UK.
Institute of Cancer and Genomic Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.
School of Biological Sciences, University of Nottingham, Sutton Bonington, UK.
Diabetes Research Centre, University of Leicester, Leicester General Hospital, Leicester, UK.



Acute exercise does not elicit compensatory changes in appetite parameters in lean individuals; however, less is known about responses in overweight individuals. This study compared the acute effects of moderate-intensity exercise on appetite, energy intake and appetite-regulatory hormones in lean and overweight/obese individuals.


Forty-seven healthy lean (n=22, 11 females; mean (s.d.) 37.5 (15.2) years; 22.4 (1.5) kg m-2) and overweight/obese (n=25, 11 females; 45.0 (12.4) years, 29.2 (2.9) kg m-2) individuals completed two, 8 h trials (exercise and control). In the exercise trial, participants completed 60 min treadmill exercise (59 (4)% peak oxygen uptake) at 0-1 h and rested thereafter while participants rested throughout the control trial. Appetite ratings and concentrations of acylated ghrelin, peptide YY (PYY) and glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) were measured at predetermined intervals. Standardised meals were consumed at 1.5 and 4 h and an ad libitum buffet meal was provided at 7 h.


Exercise suppressed appetite (95% confidence interval (CI) -3.1 to -0.5 mm, P=0.01), and elevated delta PYY (95% CI 10 to 17 pg ml-1, P<0.001) and GLP-1 (95% CI 7 to 10 pmol l-1, P<0.001) concentrations. Delta acylated ghrelin concentrations (95% CI -5 to 3 pg ml-1, P=0.76) and ad libitum energy intake (95% CI -391 to 346 kJ, P=0.90) were similar between trials. Subjective and hormonal appetite parameters and ad libitum energy intake were similar between lean and overweight/obese individuals (P⩾0.27). The exercise-induced elevation in delta GLP-1 was greater in overweight/obese individuals (trial-by-group interaction P=0.01), whereas lean individuals exhibited a greater exercise-induced increase in delta PYY (trial-by-group interaction P<0.001).


Acute moderate-intensity exercise transiently suppressed appetite and increased PYY and GLP-1 in the hours after exercise without stimulating compensatory changes in appetite in lean or overweight/obese individuals. These findings underscore the ability of exercise to induce a short-term energy deficit without any compensatory effects on appetite regardless of weight status.

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