Anticipation of aerobic exercise increases planned energy intake for a post-exercise meal

In many situations, meals are planned (i.e. what and how much) before they are eaten, but how exercise influences this planning is unknown. Therefore, this study investigated whether anticipation of an exercise session alters food intake planned for post-exercise. Forty (16 male) regular exercisers (mean ± SD; age 23.3 ± 5.6 y, BMI 22.7 ± 3.3 kg/m2, body fat 25.6 ± 7.6%) completed the study. Subjects arrived ≥3 h post-prandial and were given two hypothetical scenarios for the following day: 1) morning rest (REST), or 2) morning rest with the addition of 1 h of hard aerobic exercise at 10:00–11:00 (EXERCISE). For each scenario subjects had to plan their lunch, to consume at 12:00, by serving themselves cheesy tomato pasta and chocolate buttons. Scenarios were randomised and separated by 5 min and foods were not consumed. EXERCISE increased total energy served by 24% (EXERCISE 3308 ± 1217 kJ; REST 2663 ± 924 kJ; P < 0.001), with increases in energy served from both pasta (+25%; P < 0.001) and chocolate buttons (+20%; P = 0.024). These results suggest aerobic exercise increases planned post-exercise energy intake, if a meal is planned in advance of exercise. Future research should examine the impact of exercise on meal planning at other meals, as well as how this behaviour impacts weight loss with exercise training.