This study examined effects of 12 weeks of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise on eating behaviour, food cravings and weekly energy intake and expenditure in inactive men. Eleven healthy men (mean ± SD: age, 26 ± 5 years; body mass index, 24.6 ± 3.8 kg/m2; maximum oxygen uptake, 43.1 ± 7.4 mL/kg/min) completed the 12-week supervised exercise programme. Body composition, health markers (e.g. blood pressure), eating behaviour, food cravings and weekly energy intake and expenditure were assessed before and after the exercise intervention. There were no intervention effects on weekly free-living energy intake (p=0.326, d=-0.12) and expenditure (p=0.799, d=0.04), or uncontrolled eating and emotional eating scores (p>0.05). However, there was a trend with a medium effect size (p=0.058, d=0.68) for cognitive restraint to be greater after the exercise intervention. Total food cravings (p=0.009, d=-1.19) and specific cravings of high-fat foods (p=0.023, d=-0.90), fast-food fats (p=0.009, d=-0.71) and carbohydrates/starches (p=0.009, d=-0.56) decreased from baseline to 12 weeks. Moreover, there was a trend with a large effect size for cravings of sweets (p=0.052, d=-0.86) to be lower after the exercise intervention. In summary, 12 weeks of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise reduced food cravings and increased cognitive restraint, however, these were not accompanied by changes in other eating behaviours and weekly energy intake and expenditure. The results indicate the importance of exercising for health improvements even when reductions in body mass are modest.
- Food cravings
- Eating behaviour
- Weekly energy intake and expenditure