Interactive effects of acute exercise and carbohydrate-energy replacement on insulin sensitivity in healthy adults

Drusus Johnson-Bonson, Ben J. Narang, Russell Davies, Aaron Hengist, Harry Smith, Jon Watkins, Harry Taylor, Jean-Philippe Walhin, Javier Gonzalez, James Betts

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This study investigated whether carbohydrate-energy replacement immediately after prolonged endurance exercise attenuates insulin sensitivity the following morning, and whether exercise improves insulin sensitivity the following morning independent of an exercise-induced carbohydrate deficit. Oral glucose tolerance and whole-body insulin sensitivity were compared the morning after 3 evening conditions, involving (1) treadmill exercise followed by a carbohydrate replacement drink (200 or 150 g maltodextrin for males and females, respectively; CHO-replace); (2) treadmill exercise followed by a non-caloric, taste-matched placebo (CHO-deficit); or (3) seated rest with no drink provided (Rest). Treadmill exercise involved 90 minutes at ∼80% age-predicted maximum heart rate. Seven males and 2 females (aged 23 ± 1 years; body mass index 24.0 ± 2.7 kg·m-2) completed all conditions in a randomised order. Matsuda index improved by 22% (2.2 [0.3, 4.0] au, p = 0.03) and HOMA2-IR improved by 10% (-0.04 [-0.08, 0.00] au, p = 0.04) in CHO-deficit versus CHO-replace, without corresponding changes in postprandial glycaemia. Outcomes were similar between Rest and other conditions. These data suggest that improvements to insulin sensitivity in healthy populations following acute moderate/vigorous intensity endurance exercise may be dependent on the presence of a carbohydrate-energy deficit. Novelty: Restoration of carbohydrate balance following acute endurance exercise attenuated whole-body insulin sensitivity. Exercise per se failed to enhance whole-body insulin sensitivity. Maximising or prolonging the post-exercise carbohydrate deficit may enhance acute benefits to insulin sensitivity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1207 - 1215
Number of pages9
JournalApplied Physiology Nutrition and Metabolism
Issue number10
Early online date8 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2021


  • activité physique
  • carbohydrate availability
  • deficit
  • disponibilité en glucides
  • déficit
  • energy
  • glycaemia
  • glycaemic
  • glycemic
  • glycémie
  • glycémique
  • insulin resistance
  • metabolism
  • métabolisme
  • physical activity
  • refeeding
  • réalimentation
  • résistance à l’insuline
  • énergie

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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