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High-intensity intermittent exercise attenuates ad-libitum energy intake




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±1.6 kg m−2; body mass: 89.8±10.1 kg; body fat: 30.0±4.3%; VO2peak: 39.2±4.8 ml kg−1 min−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 60 s at 100% VO2peak and 240 s at 50% VO2peak), VHI: very-high-intensity intermittent exercise (alternating 15 s at 170% VO2peak and 60 s at 32% VO2peak). Participants consumed a standard caloric meal following exercise/CON and an ad-libitum meal 70 min 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 38 h remained less after VHI compared with CON and MC (P0.050). These observations were associated with lower active ghrelin (P0.050), higher blood lactate (P0.014) and higher blood glucose (P0.020) after VHI compared with all other trials. Despite higher heart rate and ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) during HI and VHI compared with MC (P0.004), 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.

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The hormone assays were carried out with the facilities at the Centre for Microscopy, Characterisation and Analysis, The University of Western Australia that are supported by the fundings of the University, State and Federal Government. TJF is in receipt of a McCusker Charitable Foundation grant, which was used to help defray costs of the Hormone assays.

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Correspondence to A Y Sim.

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Sim, A., Wallman, K., Fairchild, T. et al. High-intensity intermittent exercise attenuates ad-libitum energy intake. Int J Obes 38, 417–422 (2014).

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  • food intake
  • appetite
  • interval
  • ghrelin
  • overweight

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