Original Article

International Journal of Obesity (2014) 38, 417–422; doi:10.1038/ijo.2013.102; published online 9 July 2013

High-intensity intermittent exercise attenuates ad-libitum energy intake

A Y Sim1, K E Wallman1, T J Fairchild2 and K J Guelfi1

  1. 1School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  2. 2School of Psychology and Exercise Science, Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia

Correspondence: AY Sim, School of Sport Science, Exercise and Health, The University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth, WA 6009, Australia. E-mail: aaron.sim@uwa.edu.au

Received 12 February 2013; Revised 16 April 2013; Accepted 20 May 2013
Accepted article preview online 4 June 2013; Advance online publication 9 July 2013





To examine the acute effects of high-intensity intermittent exercise (HIIE) on energy intake, perceptions of appetite and appetite-related hormones in sedentary, overweight men.



Seventeen overweight men (body mass index: 27.7±1.6kgm−2; body mass: 89.8±10.1kg; body fat: 30.0±4.3%; VO2peak: 39.2±4.8mlkg−1min−1) completed four 30-min experimental conditions using a randomised counterbalanced design. CON: resting control, MC: continuous moderate-intensity exercise (60% VO2peak), HI: high-intensity intermittent exercise (alternating 60s at 100% VO2peak and 240s at 50% VO2peak), VHI: very-high-intensity intermittent exercise (alternating 15s at 170% VO2peak and 60s at 32% VO2peak). Participants consumed a standard caloric meal following exercise/CON and an ad-libitum meal 70min later. Capillary blood was sampled and perceived appetite assessed at regular time intervals throughout the session. Free-living energy intake and physical activity levels for the experimental day and the day after were also assessed.



Ad-libitum energy intake was lower after HI and VHI compared with CON (P=0.038 and P=0.004, respectively), and VHI was also lower than MC (P=0.028). Free-living energy intake in the subsequent 38h remained less after VHI compared with CON and MC (Pless than or equal to0.050). These observations were associated with lower active ghrelin (Pless than or equal to0.050), higher blood lactate (Pless than or equal to0.014) and higher blood glucose (Pless than or equal to0.020) after VHI compared with all other trials. Despite higher heart rate and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) during HI and VHI compared with MC (Pless than or equal to0.004), ratings of physical activity enjoyment were similar between all the exercise trials (P=0.593). No differences were found in perceived appetite between trials.



High-intensity intermittent exercise suppresses subsequent ad-libitum energy intake in overweight inactive men. This format of exercise was found to be well tolerated in an overweight population.


food intake; appetite; interval; ghrelin; overweight

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