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Br J Sports Med doi:10.1136/bjsports-2012-091721
  • Original article

Individual variability in compensatory eating following acute exercise in overweight and obese women

  1. Neil A King3
  1. 1Department of Sport, Health & Nutrition, Leeds Trinity University, Leeds, UK
  2. 2BioPsychology Group, Institute of Psychological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  3. 3Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Mark Hopkins, Department of Sport, Health & Nutrition, Leeds Trinity University, Leeds LS18 5HD, UK; m.hopkins{at}leedstrinity.ac.uk
  • Accepted 31 March 2013
  • Published Online First 10 May 2013

Abstract

Background While compensatory eating following acute aerobic exercise is highly variable, little is known about the underlying mechanisms that contribute to the alterations in exercise-induced eating behaviour.

Methods Overweight and obese women (body mass index=29.6±4.0 kg/m2) performed a bout of cycling individually tailored to expend 400 kcal (EX) or a time-matched no exercise control condition in a randomised, counter-balanced order. 60 min after the cessation of exercise, an ad libitum test meal was provided. Substrate oxidation and subjective appetite ratings were measured during exercise/time-matched rest, and during the period between the cessation of exercise and food consumption.

Results While ad libitum energy intake (EI) did not differ between EX and the control condition (666.0±203.9 vs 664.6±174.4 kcal, respectively; ns), there was a marked individual variability in compensatory EI. The difference in EI between EX and the control condition ranged from −234.3 to 278.5 kcal. Carbohydrate oxidation during exercise was positively associated with postexercise EI, accounting for 37% of the variance in EI (r=0.57; p=0.02).

Conclusions These data indicate that the capacity of acute exercise to create a short-term energy deficit in overweight and obese women is highly variable. Furthermore, exercise-induced CHO oxidation can explain a part of the variability in acute exercise-induced compensatory eating. Postexercise compensatory eating could serve as an adaptive response to facilitate the restoration of carbohydrate balance.

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