No sex difference in body fat in response to supervised and measured exercise

Caudwell, Phillipa, Gibbons, Catherine, Hopkins, Mark, King, Neil A., Finlayson, Graham, & Blundell, John E. (2013) No sex difference in body fat in response to supervised and measured exercise. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 45(2), pp. 351-358.

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It is often reported that females lose less body weight than males do in response to exercise. These differences are suggested to be a result of females exhibiting a stronger defense of body fat and a greater compensatory appetite response to exercise than males do.


This study aimed to compare the effect of a 12-wk supervised exercise program on body weight, body composition, appetite, and energy intake in males and females.


A total of 107 overweight and obese adults (males = 35, premenopausal females = 72, BMI = 31.4 ± 4.2 kg·m−2, age = 40.9 ± 9.2 yr) completed a supervised 12-wk exercise program expending approximately 10.5 MJ·wk−1 at 70% HRmax. Body composition, energy intake, appetite ratings, RMR, and cardiovascular fitness were measured at weeks 0 and 12.


The 12-wk exercise program led to significant reductions in body mass (males [M] = −3.03 ± 3.4 kg and females [F] = −2.28 ± 3.1 kg), fat mass (M = −3.14 ± 3.7 kg and F = −3.01 ± 3.0 kg), and percent body fat (M = −2.45% ± 3.3% and F = −2.45% ± 2.2%; all P < 0.0001), but there were no sex-based differences (P > 0.05). There were no significant changes in daily energy intake in males or females after the exercise intervention compared with baseline (M = 199.2 ± 2418.1 kJ and F = −131.6 ± 1912.0 kJ, P > 0.05). Fasting hunger levels significantly increased after the intervention compared with baseline values (M = 11.0 ± 21.1 min and F = 14.0 ± 22.9 mm, P < 0.0001), but there were no differences between males and females (P > 0.05). The exercise also improved satiety responses to an individualized fixed-energy breakfast (P < 0.0001). This was comparable in males and females.


Males and premenopausal females did not differ in their response to a 12-wk exercise intervention and achieved similar reductions in body fat. When exercise interventions are supervised and energy expenditure is controlled, there are no sex-based differences in the measured compensatory response to exercise.

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ID Code: 66573
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31826ced79
ISSN: 0195-9131
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 American College of Sports Medicine
Deposited On: 22 Jan 2014 23:43
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2014 23:53

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