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Appetite and Energy Intake Responses to Acute Energy Deficits in Females versus Males


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: March 2016 - Volume 48 - Issue 3 - p 412–420
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000793
Basic Sciences

Purpose To explore whether compensatory responses to acute energy deficits induced by exercise or diet differ by sex.

Methods In experiment one, 12 healthy women completed three 9-h trials (control, exercise-induced (Ex-Def) and food restriction–induced energy deficit (Food-Def)) with identical energy deficits being imposed in the Ex-Def (90-min run, ∼70% of V˙O2max) and Food-Def trials. In experiment two, 10 men and 10 women completed two 7-h trials (control and exercise). Sixty minutes of running (∼70% of V˙O2max) was performed at the beginning of the exercise trial. The participants rested throughout the remainder of the exercise trial and during the control trial. Appetite ratings, plasma concentrations of gut hormones, and ad libitum energy intake were assessed during main trials.

Results In experiment one, an energy deficit of approximately 3500 kJ induced via food restriction increased appetite and food intake. These changes corresponded with heightened concentrations of plasma acylated ghrelin and lower peptide YY3–36. None of these compensatory responses were apparent when an equivalent energy deficit was induced by exercise. In experiment two, appetite ratings and plasma acylated ghrelin concentrations were lower in exercise than in control, but energy intake did not differ between trials. The appetite, acylated ghrelin, and energy intake response to exercise did not differ between men and women.

Conclusions Women exhibit compensatory appetite, gut hormone, and food intake responses to acute energy restriction but not in response to an acute bout of exercise. Additionally, men and women seem to exhibit similar acylated ghrelin and PYY3–36 responses to exercise-induced energy deficits. These findings advance understanding regarding the interaction between exercise and energy homeostasis in women.

1School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, UNITED KINGDOM; 2The Public Authority for Applied Education and Training, KUWAIT; 3School of Sport, Leeds Beckett University, Leeds, UNITED KINGDOM; 4School of Physical Education, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul – UFRGS, Porto Alegre – RS, BRAZIL; 5Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, UNITED KINGDOM; and 6Department of Medicine, University College London, London, UNITED KINGDOM

Address for correspondence: David Stensel, Ph.D., School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Leicestershire, United Kingdom, LE11 3TU; E-mail:

Submitted for publication December 2014.

Accepted for publication September 2015.

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© 2016 American College of Sports Medicine