Exercise decreases fat selection in female rats during weight cycling

T. Gerardo-Gettens, G. D. Miller, Barbara A Horwitz, R. B. McDonald, K. D. Brownell, M. R C Greenwood, J. Rodin, J. S. Stern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Weight cycling (weight loss and regain) increases fat intake in rats allowed to self-select a diet from protein, carbohydrate, and fat sources. This study reports the effects of exercise on macronutrient self-selection. Female Sprague-Dawley rats (5 mo old) self-selected their diet. After 3 wk, rats were assigned to one of the following three groups: ad libitum fed sedentary (Con), sedentary food restricted to 40% Con intake (R-Sed), or treadmill exercised (20 m/min, 1 h/day, 6 day/wk) food restricted to 40% Con intake (R-Ex). Food restriction was for 3 wk followed by 5 wk of refeeding. This was repeated for a second cycle. During restriction, body weight decreased by 30% in R-Sed and by 33% in R-Ex. Although refeeding resulted in greater weight regain in R-Ex than in R-Sed, fat regain was greater in R-Sed. By week 3 of refeeding, total caloric consumption did not differ. However, fat selection increased in R-Sed (56% kcal) vs. R-Ex (30%) and Con (35%). Fat selection in R-Sed increased further during cycle 2 (73% kcal). Resting oxygen consumption decreased during food restriction in R-Sed and R-Ex. After refeeding, resting metabolic rate in R-Ex was significantly greater than in R-Sed. In conclusion, weight cycling increases dietary fat selection and adiposity. Exercise mitigates this effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number3 29-3
StatePublished - 1991


  • Body composition
  • Food intake
  • Food restriction
  • Macronutrient selection
  • Resting metabolic rate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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