Latest publication: Biological and behavioral predictors of relative energy intake after acute exercise

Dr. Christoph Höchsmann’s latest research paper, " Biological and behavioral predictors of relative energy intake after acute exercise," was recently published in the scientific journal Appetite.

Energy intake in the post-exercise state is highly variable and compensatory eating – i.e., (over-) compensation of the expended energy via increased post-exercise energy intake – occurs in some individuals but not others. This energy compensation can occur consciously (e.g., food reward) or subconsciously (increased appetite hormones), and over time, it can hinder weight loss from exercise, as the increased energy intake negates the calorie deficit created by exercise. This explains, why for many individuals, exercise alone (without concurrent dietary modifications) is not an effective way to lose weight, although substantial inter-individual variability exists.

The current publication is a secondary analysis of data from the EAT-FC study. The EAT-FC study was conducted at the University of Nebraska (USA) under the lead of Prof. Köhler. The study included 57 healthy participants and investigated the effects of an acute aerobic exercise bout vs. a rest condition on post-exercise energy intake during a test meal in a randomized crossover design. In the current publication, Dr. Höchsmann and colleagues from TU München and the University of Nebraska aimed to identify predictors of post-exercise energy intake and compensation (i.e., test meal intake minus energy expenditure in exercise) from a wide range of behavioral and biological characteristics that can be relatively easily assessed in a clinical setting before individuals participate in exercise-based weight loss interventions. Identification of such predictors would allow to identify possible compensators before these individuals engage in exercise programs for weight loss and to deliver targeted countermeasures ahead of time and maximize the weight loss potential of exercise.

The current results show that biological and behavioral characteristics differentially affect post-exercise energy intake in men and women. In men fasting concentrations of appetite-regulating hormones at baseline (i.e., before the exercise session) predicted total and compensatory post-exercise energy intake, whereas in women, habitual exercise behavior (min/week) was the only significant predictor. These results may help identify individuals who are more likely to compensate for the energy expended in exercise, allowing to deploy targeted countermeasures ahead of time, which should take the demonstrated sex differences into account.

For more information, the full text is available here.