Effects of neuromuscular electrical stimulation on energy expenditure and postprandial metabolism in healthy men

Yung Chih Chen, Russell G. Davies, Aaron Hengist, Harriet A. Carroll, Oliver J. Perkin, James A. Betts, Dylan Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (SciVal)


It is unclear whether neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) has meaningful metabolic effects when users have the opportunity to self-select the intensity to one that can be comfortably tolerated. Nine healthy men aged 28 6 9y (mean 6 SD) with a body mass index 22.3 6 2.3 kg/m2 completed 3 trials involving a 2-h oral glucose tolerance test whilst, in a randomised counterbalanced order, (1) sitting motionless (SIT), (2) standing motionless (STAND); and (3) sitting motionless with NMES of quadriceps and calves at a self-selected tolerable intensity. The mean (95% confidence interval [CI]) total energy expenditure was greater in the NMES trial (221 [180–262] kcal/2 h) and STAND trial (178 [164–191] kcal/2 h) than during SIT (159 [150–167] kcal/2 h) (both, p < 0.05). This was primarily driven by an increase in carbohydrate oxidation in the NMES and STAND trials compared with the SIT trial (p < 0.05). Postprandial insulin iAUC was lower in both NMES and STAND compared with SIT (16.4 [7.7–25.1], 17 [7–27] and 22.6 [10.8–34.4] nmol·120 min/L, respectively; both, p < 0.05). Compared with sitting, both NMES and STAND increased energy expenditure and whole-body carbohydrate oxidation and reduced postprandial insulin concentrations in healthy men, with more pronounced effects seen with NMES. Self-selected NMES is a potential strategy for improving metabolic health. This trial is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov (ID: NCT04389736). Novelty: • NMES at a comfortable intensity enhances energy expenditure and carbohydrate oxidation, and reduces postprandial insulinemia. • Thus, self-selected NMES represents a potential strategy to improve metabolic health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-33
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism
Issue number1
Early online date17 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2022


  • Carbohydrate oxidation
  • Glucose control
  • Insulin resistance
  • NMES
  • Standing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physiology (medical)


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