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High Habitual Physical Activity Improves Acute Energy Compensation in Nonobese Adults


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: November 2017 - Volume 49 - Issue 11 - p 2268–2275
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000001368
Applied Sciences

Purpose Evidence suggests that homeostatic satiety signaling is enhanced with higher levels of physical activity (PA), with active individuals demonstrating an improved ability to compensate for previous energy intake (EI). However, prior studies lacked objective assessment of both PA level and EI. This study examined the effect of objectively measured PA level on homeostatic (energy compensation) and hedonic (liking and wanting) responses to high-energy (HEP), low-energy (LEP), and control preloads.

Methods Thirty-four nonobese individuals were grouped by tertiles of accelerometry-measured habitual moderate-to-vigorous PA (low, LoMVPA; moderate, ModMVPA; high, HiMVPA), similar in age, sex, and body mass index. After a preliminary assessment, EI (fixed-energy breakfast and ad libitum lunch, dinner, and evening snack box meals) was determined for three probe meal days in which preloads varying in energy content (HEP, 699 kcal; LEP, 258 kcal; control, 0 kcal) were consumed before the lunch meal. Liking and wanting were assessed before and after preload consumption (Leeds Food Preference Questionnaire), and appetite ratings were taken throughout the day.

Results Relative to control, EI at lunch was reduced to a greater extent after consumption of HEP compared with LEP in ModMVPA (P < 0.01) and HiMVPA (P = 0.01) but not LoMVPA (P = 0.59), reflecting more accurate energy compensation in HiMVPA and ModMVPA. There were no effects on cumulative EI after preload consumption of (lunch, dinner, and snack box combined). HEP led to a greater suppression of hunger, liking, and wanting compared with LEP in all MVPA tertiles.

Conclusions Nonobese individuals with lower levels of measured PA were insensitive to the nutritional manipulation of the preloads, suggesting a weaker satiety response to food. This study provides objective evidence that higher habitual PA improves acute homeostatic appetite control.

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1School of Psychology, University of Leeds, Leeds, UNITED KINGDOM; and 2School of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Leeds, Leeds, UNITED KINGDOM

Address for correspondence: Kristine Beaulieu, M.Sc., R.D., School of Psychology, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, United Kingdom; E-mail:

Submitted for publication April 2017.

Accepted for publication July 2017.

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© 2017 American College of Sports Medicine