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Individual variability following 12 weeks of supervised exercise: identification and characterization of compensation for exercise-induced weight loss

Abstract

Objective:

To identify and characterize the individual variability in compensation for exercise-induced changes in energy expenditure (EE).

Design:

Twelve-week exercise intervention.

Subjects:

Thirty-five overweight and obese sedentary men and women (body mass index, 31.8±4.1 kg m−2; age, 39.6±11.0 years) were prescribed exercise five times per week for 12 weeks under supervised conditions.

Measurements:

Body weight, body composition, resting metabolic rate (RMR), total daily energy intake (EI) and subjective appetite sensations were measured at weeks 0 and 12.

Results:

When all subjects' data were pooled, the mean reduction in body weight (3.7±3.6 kg) was significant (P<0.0001) and as predicted, which suggested no compensation for the increase in EE. However, further examination revealed a large individual variability in weight change (−14.7 to +1.7 kg). Subjects were identified as compensators (C) or noncompensators (NC) based on their actual weight loss (mean NC=6.3±3.2 kg and C=1.5± 2.5 kg) relative to their predicted weight loss. C and NC were characterized by their different metabolic and behavioural compensatory responses. Moderate changes in RMR occurred in C (−69.2±268.7 kcal day−1) and NC (14.2±242.7 kcal day−1). EI and average daily subjective hunger increased by 268.2±455.4 kcal day−1 and 6.9±11.4 mm day−1 in C, whereas EI decreased by 130±485 kcal day−1 and there was no change in subjective appetite (0.4±9.6 mm day−1) in NC.

Conclusion:

These results demonstrate that expressing the exercise-induced change in body weight as a group mean conceals the large inter-individual variability in body weight and compensatory responses. Individuals who experience a lower than predicted weight loss are compensating for the increase in EE.

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Acknowledgements

This work was funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBS/B/05079—2004-2007).

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Correspondence to N A King.

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A brief report of this work was presented at the 10th ICO in Sydney, 2007.

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King, N., Hopkins, M., Caudwell, P. et al. Individual variability following 12 weeks of supervised exercise: identification and characterization of compensation for exercise-induced weight loss. Int J Obes 32, 177–184 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/sj.ijo.0803712

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Keywords

  • exercise
  • compensation
  • energy balance

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