Skip to main content Accessibility help

Alterations in energy balance from an exercise intervention with ad libitum food intake

  • Katarina Melzer (a1), Anne Renaud (a1), Stefanie Zurbuchen (a1) (a2), Céline Tschopp (a2), Jan Lehmann (a3), Davide Malatesta (a4) (a5), Nicole Ruch (a1), Yves Schutz (a6) (a7), Bengt Kayser (a4) (a5) and Urs Mäder (a1)...


Better understanding is needed regarding the effects of exercise alone, without any imposed dietary regimens, as a single tool for body-weight regulation. Thus, we evaluated the effects of an 8-week increase in activity energy expenditure (AEE) on ad libitum energy intake (EI), body mass and composition in healthy participants with baseline physical activity levels (PAL) in line with international recommendations. Forty-six male adults (BMI = 19·7–29·3 kg/m2) participated in an intervention group, and ten (BMI = 21·0–28·4 kg/m2) in a control group. Anthropometric measures, cardiorespiratory fitness, EI, AEE and exercise intensity were recorded at baseline and during the 1st, 5th and 8th intervention weeks, and movement was recorded throughout. Body composition was measured at the beginning and at the end of the study, and resting energy expenditure was measured after the study. The intervention group increased PAL from 1·74 (se 0·03) to 1·93 (se 0·03) (P < 0·0001) and cardiorespiratory fitness from 41·4 (se 0·9) to 45·7 (se 1·1) ml O2/kg per min (P = 0·001) while decreasing body mass (−1·36 (se 0·2) kg; P = 0·001) through adipose tissue mass loss (ATM) (−1·61 (se 0·2) kg; P = 0·0001) compared with baseline. The control group did not show any significant changes in activity, body mass or ATM. EI was unchanged in both groups. The results indicate that in normal-weight and overweight men, increasing PAL from 1·7 to 1·9 while keeping EI ad libitum over an 8-week period produces a prolonged negative energy balance. Replication using a longer period (and/or more intense increase in PAL) is needed to investigate if and at what body composition the increase in AEE is met by an equivalent increase in EI.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Alterations in energy balance from an exercise intervention with ad libitum food intake
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Alterations in energy balance from an exercise intervention with ad libitum food intake
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Alterations in energy balance from an exercise intervention with ad libitum food intake
      Available formats


This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: Dr K. Melzer, email


Hide All
1. McArdle, WD, Katch, FI & Katch, VL (2010) Exercise Physiology: Nutrition, Energy, and Human Performance, 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
2. Mayer, J, Roy, P & Mitra, KP (1956) Relation between caloric intake, body weight, and physical work: studies in an industrial male population in West Bengal. Am J Clin Nutr 4, 169175.
3. Blundell, JE, Stubbs, RJ, Hughes, DA, et al. (2003) Cross talk between physical activity and appetite control: does physical activity stimulate appetite? Proc Nutr Soc 62, 651661.
4. Farah, NM, Malkova, D & Gill, JM (2010) Effects of exercise on postprandial responses to ad libitum feeding in overweight men. Med Sci Sports Exerc 42, 20152022.
5. Hays, NP, Starling, RD, Sullivan, DH, et al. (2006) Effects of an ad libitum, high carbohydrate diet and aerobic exercise training on insulin action and muscle metabolism in older men and women. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci 61, 299304.
6. King, JA, Miyashita, M, Wasse, LK, et al. (2010) Influence of prolonged treadmill running on appetite, energy intake and circulating concentrations of acylated ghrelin. Appetite 54, 492498.
7. King, NA, Lluch, A, Stubbs, RJ, et al. (1997) High dose exercise does not increase hunger or energy intake in free living males. Eur J Clin Nutr 51, 478483.
8. Kissileff, HR, Pi-Sunyer, FX, Segal, K, et al. (1990) Acute effects of exercise on food intake in obese and nonobese women. Am J Clin Nutr 52, 240245.
9. Lluch, A, King, NA & Blundell, JE (1998) Exercise in dietary restrained women: no effect on energy intake but change in hedonic ratings. Eur J Clin Nutr 52, 300307.
10. Edholm, OG, Adam, JM, Healy, MJ, et al. (1970) Food intake and energy expenditure of army recruits. Br J Nutr 24, 10911107.
11. Martins, C, Morgan, L & Truby, H (2008) A review of the effects of exercise on appetite regulation: an obesity perspective. Int J Obes (Lond) 32, 13371347.
12. Whybrow, S, Hughes, DA, Ritz, P, et al. (2008) The effect of an incremental increase in exercise on appetite, eating behaviour and energy balance in lean men and women feeding ad libitum . Br J Nutr 100, 11091115.
13. Alkahtani, SA, Byrne, NM, Hills, AP, et al. (2014) Interval training intensity affects energy intake compensation in obese men. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab 24, 595604.
14. Sim, AY, Wallman, KE, Fairchild, TJ, et al. (2014) High-intensity intermittent exercise attenuates ad-libitum energy intake. Int J Obes (Lond) 38, 417422.
15. Westerterp-Plantenga, MS, Verwegen, CR, Ijedema, MJ, et al. (1997) Acute effects of exercise or sauna on appetite in obese and nonobese men. Physiol Behav 62, 13451354.
16. Scheurink, AJ, Ammar, AA, Benthem, B, et al. (1999) Exercise and the regulation of energy intake. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 23, Suppl. 3, S1S6.
17. Martins, C, Morgan, LM, Bloom, SR, et al. (2007) Effects of exercise on gut peptides, energy intake and appetite. J Endocrinol 193, 251258.
18. King, NA, Tremblay, A & Blundell, JE (1997) Effects of exercise on appetite control: implications for energy balance. Med Sci Sports Exerc 29, 10761089.
19. Deighton, K & Stensel, DJ (2014) Creating an acute energy deficit without stimulating compensatory increases in appetite: is there an optimal exercise protocol? Proc Nutr Soc 73, 352358.
20. Melzer, K, Kayser, B, Saris, WH, et al. (2005) Effects of physical activity on food intake. Clin Nutr 24, 885895.
21. Andersson, B, Xu, XF, Rebuffe-Scrive, M, et al. (1991) The effects of exercise, training on body composition and metabolism in men and women. Int J Obes 15, 7581.
22. Donnelly, JE, Jacobsen, DJ, Heelan, KS, et al. (2000) The effects of 18 months of intermittent vs. continuous exercise on aerobic capacity, body weight and composition, and metabolic fitness in previously sedentary, moderately obese females. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 24, 566572.
23. Donnelly, JE, Kirk, EP, Jacobsen, DJ, et al. (2003) Effects of 16 mo of verified, supervised aerobic exercise on macronutrient intake in overweight men and women: the Midwest Exercise Trial. Am J Clin Nutr 78, 950956.
24. Elder, SJ & Roberts, SB (2007) The effects of exercise on food intake and body fatness: a summary of published studies. Nutr Rev 65, 119.
25. Klaus, S (2004) Adipose tissue as a regulator of energy balance. Curr Drug Targets 5, 241250.
26. Woo, R, Garrow, JS & Pi-Sunyer, FX (1982) Effect of exercise on spontaneous calorie intake in obesity. Am J Clin Nutr 36, 470477.
27. Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee (2008) Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Report. Washington, DC: US Department of Health and Human Services.
28. Donnelly, JE, Blair, SN, Jakicic, JM, et al. (2009) American College of Sports Medicine position stand. Appropriate physical activity intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain for adults. Med Sci Sports Exerc 41, 459471.
29. Marcus, BH, Williams, DM, Dubbert, PM, et al. (2006) Physical activity intervention studies: what we know and what we need to know: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association Council on Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism (Subcommittee on Physical Activity); Council on Cardiovascular Disease in the Young; and the Interdisciplinary Working Group on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research. Circulation 114, 27392752.
30. Ainsworth, BE, Haskell, WL, Herrmann, SD, et al. (2011) 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities: a second update of codes and MET values. Med Sci Sports Exerc 43, 15751581.
31. Hind, K, Oldroyd, B & Truscott, JG (2011) In vivo precision of the GE Lunar iDXA densitometer for the measurement of total body composition and fat distribution in adults. Eur J Clin Nutr 65, 140142.
32. Carver, TE, Christou, NV & Andersen, RE (2013) In vivo precision of the GE iDXA for the assessment of total body composition and fat distribution in severely obese patients. Obesity (Silver Spring) 21, 13671369.
33. Weir, JB (1990) New methods for calculating metabolic rate with special reference to protein metabolism: 1949. Nutrition 6, 213221.
34. Brage, S, Brage, N, Ekelund, U, et al. (2006) Effect of combined movement and heart rate monitor placement on physical activity estimates during treadmill locomotion and free-living. Eur J Appl Physiol 96, 517524.
35. Brage, S, Brage, N, Franks, PW, et al. (2005) Reliability and validity of the combined heart rate and movement sensor Actiheart. Eur J Clin Nutr 59, 561570.
36. Brage, S, Brage, N, Franks, PW, et al. (2004) Branched equation modeling of simultaneous accelerometry and heart rate monitoring improves estimate of directly measured physical activity energy expenditure. J Appl Physiol 96, 343351.
37. Brage, S, Ekelund, U, Brage, N, et al. (2007) Hierarchy of individual calibration levels for heart rate and accelerometry to measure physical activity. J Appl Physiol 103, 682692.
38. Thompson, D, Batterham, AM, Bock, S, et al. (2006) Assessment of low-to-moderate intensity physical activity thermogenesis in young adults using synchronized heart rate and accelerometry with branched-equation modeling. J Nutr 136, 10371042.
39. Crouter, SE, Churilla, JR & Bassett, DR Jr (2008) Accuracy of the Actiheart for the assessment of energy expenditure in adults. Eur J Clin Nutr 62, 704711.
40. Villars, C, Bergouignan, A, Dugas, J, et al. (2012) Validity of combining heart rate and uniaxial acceleration to measure free-living physical activity energy expenditure in young men. J Appl Physiol (1985) 113, 17631771.
41. Aadland, E & Ylvisaker, E (2015) Reliability of the Actigraph GT3X+ accelerometer in adults under free-living conditions. PLOS ONE 10, e0134606.
42. Ward, DS, Evenson, KR, Vaughn, A, et al. (2005) Accelerometer use in physical activity: best practices and research recommendations. Med Sci Sports Exerc 37, S582S588.
43. Tudor-Locke, C, Camhi, SM & Troiano, RP (2012) A catalog of rules, variables, and definitions applied to accelerometer data in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003–2006. Prev Chronic Dis 9, E113.
44. Hendelman, D, Miller, K, Baggett, C, et al. (2000) Validity of accelerometry for the assessment of moderate intensity physical activity in the field. Med Sci Sports Exerc 32, S442S449.
45. Blair, SN, LaMonte, MJ & Nichaman, MZ (2004) The evolution of physical activity recommendations: how much is enough? Am J Clin Nutr 79, 913S920S.
46. Saris, WH, Blair, SN, van Baak, MA, et al. (2003) How much physical activity is enough to prevent unhealthy weight gain? Outcome of the IASO 1st Stock Conference and consensus statement. Obes Rev 4, 101114.
47. Erlichman, J, Kerbey, AL & James, WP (2002) Physical activity and its impact on health outcomes. Paper 1: the impact of physical activity on cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality: an historical perspective. Obes Rev 3, 257271.
48. Schoeller, DA (1998) Balancing energy expenditure and body weight. Am J Clin Nutr 68, 956S961S.
49. Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine (2005) Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids (Macronutrients). Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
50. Caudwell, P, Gibbons, C, Hopkins, M, et al. (2013) No sex difference in body fat in response to supervised and measured exercise. Med Sci Sports Exerc 45, 351358.
51. Paul, DR, Novotny, JA & Rumpler, WV (2004) Effects of the interaction of sex and food intake on the relation between energy expenditure and body composition. Am J Clin Nutr 79, 385389.
52. Westerterp, KR & Goran, MI (1997) Relationship between physical activity related energy expenditure and body composition: a gender difference. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 21, 184188.
53. King, NA, Hopkins, M, Caudwell, P, et al. (2008) Individual variability following 12 weeks of supervised exercise: identification and characterization of compensation for exercise-induced weight loss. Int J Obes (Lond) 32, 177184.
54. World Health Organization (1985) Energy and Protein Requirements. Report of a Joint FAO/WHO/UNU Expert Consultation. World Health Organization Technical Report Series 724. Geneva: WHO.
55. Archer, E, Hand, GA & Blair, SN (2013) Validity of U.S. nutritional surveillance: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey caloric energy intake data, 1971–2010. PLOS ONE 8, e76632.
56. Hill, RJ & Davies, PS (2001) The validity of self-reported energy intake as determined using the doubly labelled water technique. Br J Nutr 85, 415430.
57. Westerterp, KR & Plasqui, G (2004) Physical activity and human energy expenditure. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care 7, 607613.
58. Gemming, L, Rush, E, Maddison, R, et al. (2014) Wearable cameras can reduce dietary under-reporting: doubly labelled water validation of a camera-assisted 24 h recall. Br J Nutr (epublication ahead of print version 28 November 2014).
59. Arab, L & Winter, A (2010) Automated camera-phone experience with the frequency of imaging necessary to capture diet. J Am Diet Assoc 110, 12381241.
60. O'Loughlin, G, Cullen, SJ, McGoldrick, A, et al. (2013) Using a wearable camera to increase the accuracy of dietary analysis. Am J Prev Med 44, 297301.
61. Blair, SN (2009) Physical inactivity: the biggest public health problem of the 21st century. Br J Sports Med 43, 12.
62. Catenacci, VA & Wyatt, HR (2007) The role of physical activity in producing and maintaining weight loss. Nat Clin Pract Endocrinol Metab 3, 518529.
63. Stubbs, RJ, Sepp, A, Hughes, DA, et al. (2002) The effect of graded levels of exercise on energy intake and balance in free-living women. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 26, 866869.
64. Westerterp, KR, Meijer, GA, Janssen, EM, et al. (1992) Long-term effect of physical activity on energy balance and body composition. Br J Nutr 68, 2130.
65. Schutz, YND, Byrne, NM & Hills, AP (2014) Effectiveness of three different walking prescription durations on total physical activity in normal- and overweight women. Obes Facts 7, 264273.
66. Donnelly, JE, Herrmann, SD, Lambourne, K, et al. (2014) Does increased exercise or physical activity alter ad-libitum daily energy intake or macronutrient composition in healthy adults? A systematic review. PLOS ONE 9, e83498.



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed