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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2016 Nov 1;121(5):1208-1216. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00432.2016. Epub 2016 Sep 29.

Interstitial glucose concentrations and hypoglycemia during 2 days of caloric deficit and sustained exercise: a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial.

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Military Nutrition Division, US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, Massachusetts
Military Nutrition Division, US Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, Massachusetts.


Military personnel and some athlete populations endure short-term energy deficits from reduced energy intake and/or increased energy expenditure (EE) that may degrade physical and cognitive performance due to severe hypoglycemia (<3.1 mmol/l). The extent to which energy deficits alter normoglycemia (3.9-7.8 mmol/l) in healthy individuals is not known, since prior studies measured glucose infrequently, not continuously. The purpose of this study was to characterize the glycemic response to acute, severe energy deficit compared with fully fed control condition, using continuous glucose monitoring (CGM). For 2 days during a double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover study, 23 volunteers (17 men/6 women; age: 21.3 ± 3.0 yr; body mass index: 25 ± 3 kg/m) increased habitual daily EE [2,300 ± 450 kcal/day [means ± SD)] by 1,647 ± 345 kcal/day through prescribed exercise (~3 h/day; 40-65% peak O2 consumption), and consumed diets designed to maintain energy balance (FED) or induce 93% energy deficit (DEF). Interstitial glucose concentrations were measured continuously by CGM (Medtronic Minimed). Interstitial glucose concentrations were 1.0 ± 0.9 mmol/l lower during DEF vs. FED (P < 0.0001). The percentage of time spent in mild (3.1-3.8 mmol/l) hypoglycemia was higher during DEF compared with FED [mean difference = 20.5%; 95% confidence interval (CI): 13.1%, 27.9%; P = 0.04], while time spent in severe (<3.1 mmol/l) hypoglycemia was not different between interventions (mean difference = 4.6%; 95% CI: -0.6%, 9.8%; P = 0.10). Three of 23 participants spontaneously reported symptoms (e.g., nausea) potentially related to hypoglycemia during DEF, and an additional participant reported symptoms during both interventions. These findings suggest that severe hypoglycemia rarely occurs in healthy individuals enduring severe, short-term energy deficit secondary to heavy exercise and inadequate energy intake.


caloric restriction; continuous glucose measurement; energy deficit; glycemia; interstitial glucose

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