Biological and behavioral predictors of relative energy intake after acute exercise

Christoph Höchsmann, Safiya E. Beckford, Jeffrey A. French, Julie B. Boron, Jeffrey R. Stevens, Karsten Koehler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Energy intake in the post-exercise state is highly variable and compensatory eating – i.e., (over-) compensation of the expended energy via increased post-exercise energy intake – occurs in some individuals but not others. We aimed to identify predictors of post-exercise energy intake and compensation. In a randomized crossover design, 57 healthy participants (21.7 [SD = 2.5] years; 23.7 [SD = 2.3] kg/m2, 75% White, 54% female) completed two laboratory-based test-meals following (1) 45-min exercise and (2) 45-min rest (control). We assessed associations between biological (sex, body composition, appetite hormones) and behavioral (habitual exercise via prospective exercise log, eating behavior traits) characteristics at baseline and total energy intake, relative energy intake (intake – exercise expenditure), and the difference between post-exercise and post-rest intake. We found a differential impact of biological and behavioral characteristics on total post-exercise energy intake in men and women. In men, only fasting (baseline) concentrations of appetite-regulating hormones (peptide YY [PYY, β = 0.88, P < 0.001] and adiponectin [β = 0.66, P = 0.005] predicted total post-exercise energy intake, while in women, only habitual exercise (β = −0.44, P = 0.017) predicted total post-exercise energy intake. Predictors of relative intake were almost identical to those of total intake. The difference in energy intake between exercise and rest was associated with VO2peak (β = −0.45, P = 0.020), fasting PYY (β = 0.53, P = 0.036), and fasting adiponectin (β = 0.57, P = 0.021) in men but not women (all P > 0.51). Our results show that biological and behavioral characteristics differentially affect total and relative post-exercise energy intake in men and women. This may help identify individuals who are more likely to compensate for the energy expended in exercise. Targeted countermeasures to prevent compensatory energy intake after exercise should take the demonstrated sex differences into account.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106520
StatePublished - 1 May 2023


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