The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical utility of appetite sensations to characterize individual overall energy intake. A group of men (n 28) and women (n 23) was recruited to record their ‘desire to eat’, ‘hunger’, ‘fullness’ and ‘prospective food consumption’ (PFC) on visual analogue scales before a standardized meal test, immediately after and every 10 min for a period of 1 h after the meal. The 1 h post-meal area under the curve (1 h AUC) and the satiety quotient (SQ) were calculated for all appetite sensations. In a second visit, all participants were invited to eat three meals in order to measure total energy intake (TEI) and food preferences. Metabolic rate (MR) was also assessed to derive daily relative energy intake (REI) by subtracting this variable from TEI (TEI−MR=REI). The Three-Factor Eating Questionnaire scores were also calculated for all participants. One h AUC for fullness was the appetite sensation most strongly associated with TEI and REI (r−0·42, P≤0·003 and r−0·32, P≤0·05, respectively). SQ for fullness was the only predictor of TEI and REI (r−0·42, P≤0·0003 and r−0·30, P≤0·05, respectively). Restraint, disinhibition and hunger scores were not associated with appetite sensation variables. These results suggest that the fullness dimension seems to be a useful appetite sensation to predict long-term TEI and REI. Thus, assessment of appetite sensation such as fullness in response to a fixed load may be useful to evaluate individual overall energy intake.