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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2013 Jul 1;115(1):78-83. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00084.2013. Epub 2013 Apr 18.

Mild fasting hyperglycemia shifts fuel reliance toward fat during exercise in adults with impaired glucose tolerance.

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Energy Metabolism Laboratory, Department of Kinesiology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003, USA.


Impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) is characterized by decreased oxidative capacity and reduced carbohydrate utilization during exercise. However, it is unclear if the presence of impaired fasting glucose (IFG) affects fuel utilization during exercise in adults with IGT. We tested the hypothesis that the presence of IFG in adults with IGT decreases reliance on carbohydrate during exercise. Middle-aged, obese, sedentary individuals (n = 6, IGT and n = 6, IFG+IGT) were compared during exercise at 60% peak O2 consumption for 45 min on a cycle ergometer. Glucose rates of appearance and disposal and muscle glycogen were assessed by stable isotope dilution methods, and fat utilization was estimated via indirect calorimetry. A 75-g oral glucose tolerance test was used to determine fasting and 2-h glucose concentrations. A glucose intolerance severity z-score was calculated from the oral glucose tolerance test. Glucose flux (i.e., rates of appearance and disposal) was not different between groups. However, individuals with IFG+IGT had lower muscle glycogen use (P < 0.05) and elevated fat oxidation (P < 0.01) during exercise compared with those with isolated IGT. Plasma nonesterified fatty acids and glucose were significantly higher during exercise in subjects with IFG+IGT vs. IGT alone (P < 0.05). Fat utilization during exercise correlated with fasting glucose (r = 0.57, P = 0.05), glucose intolerance severity z-score (r = 0.66, P = 0.01), and nonesterified fatty acids (trend; r = 0.55, P = 0.08). The presence of IFG shifts fuel selection toward increased fat oxidation and decreased muscle glycogen utilization during exercise in adults with IGT. Whether these differences in substrate use contribute to, or are the result of, movement along the continuum from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes awaits further work.


diabetes; hyperglycemia; metabolic flexibility; prediabetes

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