BACKGROUND: Acute bouts of high-intensity exercise modulate peripheral appetite regulating hormones to transiently suppress hunger. However, the effects of physical activity on central appetite regulation have yet to be fully investigated.
OBJECTIVE: We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare neural responses to visual food stimuli after intense exercise and rest.
DESIGN: Fifteen lean healthy men [mean ± SD age: 22.5 ± 3.1 y; mean ± SD body mass index (in kg/m(2)): 24.2 ± 2.4] completed two 60-min trials-exercise (EX; running at ∼70% maximum aerobic capacity) and a resting control trial (REST)-in a counterbalanced order. After each trial, an fMRI assessment was completed in which images of high- and low-calorie foods were viewed.
RESULTS: EX significantly suppressed subjective appetite responses while increasing thirst and core-body temperature. Furthermore, EX significantly suppressed ghrelin concentrations and significantly enhanced peptide YY release. Neural responses to images of high-calorie foods significantly increased dorsolateral prefrontal cortex activation and suppressed orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) and hippocampus activation after EX compared with REST. After EX, low-calorie food images increased insula and putamen activation and reduced OFC activation compared with REST. Furthermore, left pallidum activity was significantly elevated after EX when low-calorie images were viewed and was suppressed when high-calorie images were viewed, and these responses correlated significantly with thirst.
CONCLUSIONS: Exercise increases neural responses in reward-related regions of the brain in response to images of low-calorie foods and suppresses activation during the viewing of high-calorie foods. These central responses are associated with exercise-induced changes in peripheral signals related to appetite-regulation and hydration status. This trial was registered at www.clinicaltrials.gov as NCT01926431.
- Appetite Regulation
- Body Mass Index
- Choice Behavior
- Cross-Over Studies
- Energy Intake
- Food Preferences
- Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
- Magnetic Resonance Imaging
- Photic Stimulation
- Prefrontal Cortex
- Young Adult