Nutrition and Health Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



Koehler, K.; Beckford, S.E.; Thayer, E.; Martin, A.R.; Boron, J.B.; Stevens, J.R. Exercise Shifts Hypothetical Food Choices toward Greater Amounts and More Immediate Consumption. Nutrients 2021, 13, 347. 10.3390/nu13020347




Although exercise modulates appetite regulation and food intake, it remains poorly understood how exercise impacts decision-making about food. The purpose of the present study was to assess the impact of an acute exercise bout on hypothetical choices related to the amount and timing of food intake. Forty-one healthy participants (22.0 ± 2.6 years; 23.7 ± 2.5 kg/m2 , 56% female) completed 45 min of aerobic exercise and a resting control condition in randomized order. Food amount preferences and intertemporal food preferences (preference for immediate vs. delayed consumption) were assessed using electronic questionnaires with visual food cues. Compared to rest, exercise resulted in a greater increase in the food amount selected, both immediately post-exercise (+25.8 ± 11.0 vs. +7.8 ± 11.0 kcal/item, p = 0.02) and 30 min post-exercise (+47.3 ± 12.4 vs. +21.3 ± 12.4 kcal/item, p = 0.005). Exercise further resulted in a greater increase in the preference for immediate consumption immediately post-exercise (+0.23 ± 0.10 vs. +0.06 ± 0.10; p = 0.03) and 30 min post-exercise (+0.30 ± 0.12 vs. +0.08 ± 0.12; p = 0.01). Our findings demonstrate that a single bout of aerobic exercise shifts hypothetical food choices toward greater amounts and more immediate consumption, highlighting the importance of the timing of food choices made in the exercise context.