Study Examines Effects of Different Meals After Exercise

Consuming low-carbohydrate meals after exercise increases insulin sensitivity the next day
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) -- Maintaining a carbohydrate or energy deficit after an exercise session appears to be associated with different effects on insulin sensitivity, according to research published online Dec. 31 ahead of print in the Journal of Applied Physiology.

Sean A. Newsom, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues analyzed data from nine healthy, non-obese men who, on three occasions, performed aerobic exercise for roughly 90 minutes. Their diets after these sessions either replaced the total energy and carbohydrate expended in exercise, or were low in either carbohydrate or energy. At another control session, participants remained sedentary. The men underwent metabolic testing the morning after their session.

The researchers found that subjects had a lower muscle glycogen concentration after the low-carbohydrate session than the control session, as well as increased insulin sensitivity. Compared to the session with balanced energy and carbohydrates, after the low-energy session the participants had similar insulin sensitivity. Keeping an energy deficit following exercise was associated with a higher rate of fatty acid mobilization and a higher fasting plasma triacylglyceride level compared to the balanced diet.

"Our study confirms previous work demonstrating that consuming low carbohydrate content in meals after exercise prevents the restoration of muscle glycogen concentration the next morning, and significantly increased insulin sensitivity the next day. Importantly, in our study we demonstrated that this exercise-induced improvement in insulin sensitivity occurred despite maintaining energy balance," the authors conclude.

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