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Whole-body fat oxidation increases more by prior exercise than overnight fasting in elite endurance athletes.

Journal article
Authors Ulrika Andersson Hall
Fredrik Edin
Anders Pedersen
Klavs Madsen
Published in Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism = Physiologie appliquée, nutrition et métabolisme
Volume 41
Issue 4
Pages 430-7
ISSN 1715-5320
Publication year 2016
Published at Swedish NMR Centre at Göteborg University
Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science
Pages 430-7
Language en
Subject categories Sport and Fitness Sciences, Biological Sciences


The purpose of this study was to compare whole-body fat oxidation kinetics after prior exercise with overnight fasting in elite endurance athletes. Thirteen highly trained athletes (9 men and 4 women; maximal oxygen uptake: 66 ± 1 mL·min(-1)·kg(-1)) performed 3 identical submaximal incremental tests on a cycle ergometer using a cross-over design. A control test (CON) was performed 3 h after a standardized breakfast, a fasting test (FAST) 12 h after a standardized evening meal, and a postexercise test (EXER) after standardized breakfast, endurance exercise, and 2 h fasting recovery. The test consisted of 3 min each at 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, and 80% of maximal oxygen uptake and fat oxidation rates were measured through indirect calorimetry. During CON, maximal fat oxidation rate was 0.51 ± 0.04 g·min(-1) compared with 0.69 ± 0.04 g·min(-1) in FAST (P < 0.01), and 0.89 ± 0.05 g·min(-1) in EXER (P < 0.01). Across all intensities, EXER was significantly higher than FAST and FAST was higher than CON (P < 0.01). Blood insulin levels were lower and free fatty acid and cortisol levels were higher at the start of EXER compared with CON and FAST (P < 0.05). Plasma nuclear magnetic resonance-metabolomics showed similar changes in both EXER and FAST, including increased levels of fatty acids and succinate. In conclusion, prior exercise significantly increases whole-body fat oxidation during submaximal exercise compared with overnight fasting. Already high rates of maximal fat oxidation in elite endurance athletes were increased by approximately 75% after prior exercise and fasting recovery.

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