Maintenance of a healthy body weight results from equating total enegy intake to total energy expenditure (resting metabolic rate, RMR, the thermic effect of feeding, TEF; the thermic effect of activity, TEA, and adaptive thermogenesis, AT). Dietary quantity and composition and acute and chrvnic exercise have been shown to influence all components of total energy expenditure. This paper reviews the effects of exercise and diet on energy expenditure and, ultimately, energy balance. Overnutrition increases RMR and TEF while undernutrition decreases them. Carbohydrate and protein oxidation is closely tied to intake whereas fat oxidation does not closely parallel fat intake. Thus excess fat intake is likely to lead to fat storage. Acute endurance exercise at >70% increases postexercise RMR and TEF. Chronic exercise training may increase RMR while also increasing TEF. Review of the research indicates that energy balance may best be achieved by consuming an energy appropriate, low fat diet complemented by endurance exercise.
R. Scott Van Zant is with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Res. Serv., Beltsville Human Nutr. Res. Ctr., Energy and Protein Nutr. Lab., Beltsville, MD 20705