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Am J Physiol. 1996 Feb;270(2 Pt 1):E336-43.

Postmarathon paradox: insulin resistance in the face of glycogen depletion.

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Department of Medicine, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland.


Acute physical exercise enhances insulin sensitivity in healthy subjects. We examined the effect of a 42-km marathon run on insulin sensitivity and lipid oxidation in 19 male runners. In the morning after the marathon run, basal serum free fatty acid concentration was 2.2-fold higher, muscle glycogen content 37% lower (P < 0.01), glycogen synthase fractional activity 56% greater (P < 0.01), and glucose oxidation reduced by 43% (P < 0.01), whereas lipid oxidation was increased by 55% (P < 0.02) compared with the control study. During euglycemic-hyperinsulinemic clamp, whole body glucose disposal was decreased by 12% (P < 0.01) because of a 36% lower glucose oxidation rate (P < 0.05), whereas the rate of lipid oxidation was 10-fold greater (P < 0.02) than in the control study. After the marathon, muscle glycogen content correlated positively with lipid oxidation (r = 0.60, P < 0.05) and maximal aerobic power (Vo2peak; r = 0.61, P < 0.05). Vo2peak correlated positively with basal lipid oxidation (r = 0.57, P < 0.05). In conclusion, 1) after the marathon run, probably because of increased lipid oxidation, the insulin-stimulated glucose disposal is decreased despite muscle glycogen depletion and the activation of glycogen synthase; 2) the contribution of lipid oxidation in energy expenditure is increased in proportion to physical fitness; 3) these adaptations of fuel homeostasis may contribute to the maintenance of physical performance after prolonged exercise.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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