Appetite and blood glucose profiles in humans after glycogen-depleting exercise

Kathleen J. Melanson, Margriet S. Westerterp-Plantenga, L. Arthur Campfield, Wim H. M. Saris


Regulatory functions of glycogen stores and blood glucose on human appetite, particularly relating to exercise, are not fully understood. Ten men (age 20–31 yr) performed glycogen-depleting exercise in an evening, ate a low-carbohydrate dinner, and stayed overnight in the laboratory. The next day, blood glucose was monitored continuously for 517 ± 23 (SE) min. Subjects had access to high-fat and high-carbohydrate foods after baseline glucose and respiratory quotient were determined. In the afternoon, 1 h of moderate exercise was performed. Baseline respiratory quotient was 0.748 ± 0.008, plasma free fatty acids were 677 ± 123 μmol/l, insulin was 4.8 ± 0.5 μU/ml, and leptin was 1.9 ± 0.3 ng/ml. Postabsorptively, 8 of 10 meals were initiated during stability in blood glucose. Postprandially, the association between meal initiation and blood glucose declines became significant (χ2 = 7.82). During moderate exercise, blood glucose initially decreased but recovered before completion. When the glycogen buffer is depleted, meal initiation can occur during blood glucose stability; the relationship between blood glucose declines and meal initiation reestablishes with refeeding.

  • glucostatic theory
  • glycogenostatic theory
  • food intake regulation
  • hunger
  • satiety


  • Address for reprint requests and other correspondence: M. S. Westerterp-Plantenga, Dept. of Human Biology, Maastricht Univ., P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands (E-mail: M.Westerterp{at}HB.UNIMAAS.NL).

  • This work was supported by grants from Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc., and Maastricht-Wageningen MENU-VLAG.

  • The costs of publication of this article were defrayed in part by the payment of page charges. The article must therefore be hereby marked “advertisement” in accordance with 18 U.S.C. §1734 solely to indicate this fact.

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