Licence to eat: Information on energy expended during exercise affects subsequent energy intake

Duncan C McCaig, Lydia A Hawkins, Peter J Rogers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
404 Downloads (Pure)


An acute bout of exercise, compared with no exercise, appears to have little influence on subsequent energy intake (EI), resulting in short-term negative energy balance. Whereas the labelling of food is evidenced to influence EI, little research has focused on how EI is affected by framing acute exercise in different ways. To explore this, 70 healthy, mostly lean, male and female participants in the current study completed a set amount of exercise (estimated energy expenditure (EE) 120 kcal), but were informed on three occasions before and after the exercise that they had expended either 50 kcal or 265 kcal. An ad libitum test meal, comprising orange juice, tortilla chips and chocolate chip cookies, was then presented after a 10-minute break to assess subsequent EI. Measures of hunger and dietary restraint were also completed. Greater EI, primarily driven by chocolate chip cookie consumption (p=.015), was observed in participants receiving 265 kcal EE information. Hunger ratings were significantly lower in the 265 kcal EE information group than in the 50 kcal group following the test meal (p=.035), but not immediately after the exercise. These results support an interpretation that higher EE information (265 kcal) provides participants with a greater ‘license to eat’ when palatable foods are accessible. Tentative evidence for a moderating effect of dietary restraint was observed, indicating a greater influence of EE information in participants with lower restraint. The findings of the current study suggest that the provision of EE information (e.g., through mobile device apps) could be counter-productive to healthy weight management.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-329
Number of pages7
Early online date20 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016

Structured keywords

  • Brain and Behaviour
  • Nutrition and Behaviour


  • Appetite
  • Energy balance
  • Exercise
  • Compensation

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