Structured, aerobic exercise reduces fat mass and is partially compensated through energy intake but not energy expenditure in women

Anna Myers, Michelle Dalton, Catherine Gibbons, Graham Finlayson, John Blundell

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    24 Citations (Scopus)
    66 Downloads (Pure)


    BACKGROUND: Exercise-induced weight loss is often less than expected and highly variable in men and women. Behavioural compensation for the exercise-induced energy deficit could be through energy intake (EI), non-exercise physical activity (NEPA) or sedentary behaviour (SB). We investigated this issue in women. METHODS: Twenty-four overweight [body mass index (BMI) M = 27.9 kg/m2, SD = 2.7] women [age M = 33.1 years, SD = 11.7] completed 12-weeks of supervised exercise (5×500kcal per week) in a non-randomised, pre-post intervention study. Body mass (BM), waist circumference (WC), body composition, resting metabolic rate (RMR), total daily EI, individual meals, appetite sensations and appetite-related peptides were measured at baseline (week 0) and post-intervention (week 12). Free-living physical activity (PA) and SB were measured (SenseWear) at baseline, week 1 and 10 of the exercise intervention, and at post-intervention (week 13). RESULTS: Following the 12-week exercise intervention BM [p = .04], BMI [p = .035], WC [p < .001] and fat mass (FM) [p = .003] were significantly reduced, and fat-free mass (FFM) significantly increased [p = .003]. Total [p = .028], ad libitum [p = .03] and snack box EI [p = .048] were significantly increased and this was accompanied by an increase in hunger [p = .01] and a decrease in fullness [p = .03] before meals. The peptides did not explain changes in appetite [p > .05]. There was no compensatory reduction in NEPA [p > .05] and no increase in SB, rather there was a decrease in SB during the exercise intervention [p = .03]. CONCLUSIONS: Twelve-weeks of supervised aerobic exercise resulted in a significant reduction in FM and an increase in FFM. Exercise increased hunger and EI which only partially compensated for the increase in energy expenditure. There was no evidence for a compensatory reduction in NEPA or an increase in SB. Dietary intervention, as an adjunct to exercise, may offset the compensatory increase in EI and result in a greater reduction in BM.TRIAL REGISTRATION: Our trial was retrospectively registered on the International Standard Randomised Controlled Trials Registry (ISRCTN78021668, 27th September 2016) and can be found here:
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)56-65
    Number of pages10
    JournalPhysiology & Behavior
    Early online date7 Nov 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


    • Exercise
    • Appetite control
    • Weight loss
    • Compensation
    • Non-exercise physical activity
    • Sedentary behaviour


    Dive into the research topics of 'Structured, aerobic exercise reduces fat mass and is partially compensated through energy intake but not energy expenditure in women'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this