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Acute and Chronic Effects of Exercise on Appetite, Energy Intake, and Appetite-Related Hormones

The simple equation for obesity is Energy out < Energy in. The simplest way of increasing our ‘Energy out’, is to exercise more. However, the benefits of exercise extend beyond just calories, and in fact, it’s thought that exercise can improve subjective and homeostatic mediators of appetite in directions associated with enhanced meal-induced satiety. The degree to which this effect exists in an individual is highly variable and difficult to predict. This review, published in Nutrients, seeks to understand how adiposity, sex, and habitual physical activity modulate exercise-induced appetite, energy intake, and appetite-related hormone responses.

The review found that changes in perceptions of appetite, energy intake, and macronutrient composition in response to acute and chronic exercise stimuli are not modulated by levels of body adiposity or sex. However, in individuals with higher levels of habitual physical activity, they may exhibit improved sensitivity of the appetite control system through better compensatory adjustments for the energy content and density of food.

Although not conclusive, this paper draws attention to the benefits of exercise and need for an improved understanding of the individual factors that modulate appetite, appetite-related hormones, and food intake. Responses to exercise may help to explain the individual variability in body weight changes, and to facilitate the development of more efficacious weight management interventions.

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