Dr Adam Collins

Research Interests

Body Composition / Nutritional Assessment 

Previous work has focussed on the validation of Air Displacement Plethysmography (the BODPOD), for the assessment of body composition in a range of individuals. This has also extended into the nutritional assessment of different groups, from professional dancers, professional footballers, the obese and work with the London Fire Brigade.  Recent work has included the use of a 3D whole body scanner as a nutritional assessment tool, in collaboration with the London College of Fashion.

I have recently collaborated with Professor Jimmy Bell and the team at the MRC imaging Unit, Imperial College, validating a new bioimpedance method of measuring abdominal adipose tissue compartments (ViScan) against MRI.  In addition to ongoing research into the assessment of visceral adiposity in lean and obese individuals and identifying those individuals who may be classed as TOFI (thin on the outside, fat on the inside).

Sports Nutrition

Previous research has involved nutritional assessment of professional football players and other athletes. I have also been involved in studies looking at the effects of marathon training on bone density.   I have built research interests in sports nutrition here at the University of Surrey in collaboration with the new Surrey Sports Park.  In particular, with regard to fitness assessment and the effects of nutrition intervention on training and performance.  

Current research involves investigating the efficacy of bespoke protein supplementation on exercise training.  In addition, examination of longitudinal changes in diet and body composition in young gymnasts.  

Obesity/Weight loss

Other areas of interest include the measurement of body composition, metabolic rate and energy expenditure, particularly in relation to obesity and weight loss.  I am currently interested in the interaction of nutrition and exercise training on energy metabolism for application to weight loss/maintenance.  For example:

    • The independent effects of exercise intensity of appetite and energy metabolism
    • Timing of nutrition around exercise for improved energy and fat metabolism

I am also investigating the metabolic effects of intermittent fasting (recently manifested as the 5:2 diet) in collaboration with LighterLife UK.

Research Collaborations

Professor Jimmy Bell, Imperial College London (MRI imaging)
John McCarthy, University of Bedford (Exercise Physiology)
Dr Kelly Johnston – LighterLife
Tom Bulgin & Ben Moser – Mitonics.  


Programme Director:

BSc Nutrition
MSc Human Nutrition
New for 2014: BSc Sports & Exercise Science

Module organiser:

BMS3056  Advances in Nutrition: Energy & Lipid Metabolism
BMS3069 Sports & Exercise Nutrition
MHUM02 – Nutritional Evaluation & Assessment
MHUM07 – Sports & Exercise Nutrition
Module 11 (MSc Nutritional medicine) – Nutrition for Sports and Exercise Performance

Teaching contributions to a variety of modules:

Physiology, Human Nutrition, Applied Nutrition, Key Skills for Nutrition & Dietetics, MSc Health & Clinical Sciences, Metabolic Nutrition

Departmental Duties

I also frequently visit Nutrition and Nutrition/Food Science students whilst on industrial Professional Training Placement, as well as Dietetic students on clinical placement.
Typically, I supervise numerous dissertations a year, on a variety of nutrition topics.

Contact Me

Phone: 01483 68 6465

Find me on campus
Room: 25 AY 03

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My office hours

Monday-Friday: 9:00am-5:30pm (by appointment)


Journal articles

  • Antoni R, Johnston K, Collins A, Robertson M. (2018) 'Intermittent versus continuous energy restriction: differential effects on postprandial glucose and lipid metabolism following matched weight-loss in overweight/obese subjects'. Cambridge University Press British Journal of Nutrition, 119 (5), pp. 507-516.


    The intermittent energy restriction (IER) approach to weight-loss involves short periods of substantial (>70%) energy restriction interspersed with normal eating. Studies to date comparing IER to continuous energy restriction (CER) have predominantly measured fasting indices of cardiometabolic risk. This study aimed to compare the effects of IER and CER on postprandial glucose and lipid metabolism following matched weight-loss. 27 (13 male) overweight/obese participants (46±3y, 30.1±1.0kg/m2) were randomised to either an IER (2638 kJ for two days/week with an overall ER of 22±0.3%, n=15) or CER (2510kJ below requirements with overall ER of 23±0.8%) intervention. Six-hour postprandial responses to a test meal and changes in anthropometry (fat mass, fat-free mass, circumferences) were assessed at baseline and upon attainment of 5% weight-loss, following a 7 day period of weight stabilisation. The study found no significant difference in the time to attain a 5% weight loss between groups (median 59 [41-70] days and 73 [48-128] days respectively, p=0.246), or in body composition (p≥0.430). For postprandial measures, neither diet significantly altered glycaemia (p=0.226), whereas insulinaemia was reduced comparatively (p=0.903). The reduction in c-peptide tended (p=0.057) to be greater following IER (309128±23268 to 247781±20709 pmol.360min.L-1) versus CER (297204±25112 to 301655±32714 pmol.360min.L-1). The relative reduction in triacylglycerol responses was greater (p=0.045) following IER (106±30 to 68±15 mmol.360min.L-1) compared to CER (117±43 to 130±31 mmol.360min.L-1). In conclusion, these preliminary findings highlight underlying differences between IER and CER, including a superiority of IER in reducing postprandial lipaemia, which now warrant targeted mechanistic evaluation within larger study cohorts.

  • Shamlan G, Bech P, Robertson M, Collins A. (2017) 'Acute effects of exercise intensity on subsequent substrate utilisation, appetite and energy balance in men and women'. NRC Research Press Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, 42 (12), pp. 1247-1253.


    Exercise is capable of influencing the regulation of energy balance by acutely modulating appetite and energy intake coupled to effects on substrate utilization. Yet, few studies have examined acute effects of exercise intensity on aspects of both energy intake and energy metabolism, independently of energy cost of exercise. Furthermore, little is known as to the gender differences of these effect. One hour after a standardised breakfast, 40 (19 female), healthy participants (BMI 23.6±3.6 kg.m-2, VO2peak 34.4±6.8 ml.min-1.min-1) undertook either High intensity intermittent cycling consisting of 8 repeated 60s bouts of cycling at 95% VO2peak (HIIC) or low intensity continuous cycling, equivalent to 50% VO2peak (LICC), matched for energy cost (~950kJ) followed by 90mins of rest, in a randomised crossover design. Throughout each study visit satiety was assessed subjectively using visual analogue scales alongside blood metabolites and GLP-1. Energy expenditure and substrate utilization were measured over 75 minutes post-exercise via indirect calorimetry. Energy intake was assessed for 48hours post-intervention. No differences in appetite, GLP-1 or energy intakes were observed between HIIC and LICC, with or without stratifying for gender. Significant differences in post exercise non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) concentrations were observed between intensities in both genders, coupled to a significantly lower respiratory exchange ratio (RER) following HIIC (P=0.0028), with a trend towards greater reductions in RER in men(P=0.079). In conclusion, high intensity exercise, if energy matched, does not lead to greater appetite or energy intake but may exert additional beneficial metabolic effects that may be more pronounced in males.

  • Thomas EL, Parkinson JR, Frost GS, Goldstone AP, Doré CJ, McCarthy JP, Collins AL, Fitzpatrick JA, Durighel G, Taylor-Robinson SD, Bell JD. (2011) 'The Missing Risk: MRI and MRS Phenotyping of Abdominal Adiposity and Ectopic Fat'. Obesity,
  • Thomas EL, Collins AL, McCarthy J, Fitzpatrick J, Durighel G, Goldstone AP, Bell JD. (2010) 'Estimation of abdominal fat compartments by bioelectrical impedance: the validity of the ViScan measurement system in comparison with MRI'. NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CLINICAL NUTRITION, 64 (5), pp. 525-533.

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