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Prog Lipid Res. 2012 Jan;51(1):11-22. doi: 10.1016/j.plipres.2011.11.002. Epub 2011 Nov 19.

Physical activity and postprandial lipidemia: are energy expenditure and lipoprotein lipase activity the real modulators of the positive effect?

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Department of Human Nutrition, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.


Historically, the link between elevated cholesterol and increased risk of cardiovascular disease has been based on fasting measurements. This is appropriate for total, low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. However, triglyceride concentrations vary considerably throughout the day in response to the regular consumption of food and drink. Recent findings indicate that postprandial triglyceride concentrations independently predict future cardiovascular risk. Potential modulators of postprandial lipidemia include meal composition and physical activity. Early cross sectional studies indicated that physically active individuals had a lower postprandial lipidemic response compared to inactive individuals. However, the effect of physical activity on postprandial lipidemia is an acute phenomenon, which dissipates within 60 h of a single bout of exercise. Total exercise induced energy expenditure, rather than duration or intensity of the physical activity is commonly reported to be a potent modulator of postprandial lipidemia. However, the pooled results of studies in this area suggest that energy expenditure exerts most of its influence on fasting triglyceride concentrations rather than on the incremental change in triglyceride concentrations seen following meal consumption. It seems more likely that energy expenditure is one component of a multifactorial list of mediators that may include local muscle contractile activity, and other yet to be elucidated mechanisms.

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