Metabolic Implications of Diet and Energy Intake during Physical Inactivity

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PurposePhysical inactivity is associated with disruptions in glucose metabolism and energy balance, whereas energy restriction may blunt these adverse manifestations. During hypocaloric feeding, higher-protein intake maintains lean mass which is an important component of metabolic health. This study determined whether mild energy restriction preserves glycemic control during physical inactivity and whether this preservation is more effectively achieved with a higher-protein diet.MethodsTen adults (24 ± 1 yr) consumed a control (64% carbohydrate, 20% fat, 16% protein) and higher-protein diet (50% carbohydrate, 20% fat, 30% protein) during two 10-d inactivity periods (>10,000 → ~5000 steps per day) in a randomized crossover design. Energy intake was decreased by ~400 kcal·d−1 to account for reduced energy expenditure associated with inactivity. A subset of subjects (n = 5) completed 10 d of inactivity while consuming 35% excess of their basal energy requirements, which served as a positive control condition (overfeeding+inactivity).ResultsDaily steps were decreased from 12,154 ± 308 to 4275 ± 269 steps per day (P < 0.05) which was accompanied by reduced V˙O2max (−1.8 ± 0.7 mL·kg−1·min−1, P < 0.05), independent of diet conditions. No disruptions in fasting or postprandial glucose, insulin, and nonesterified fatty acids in response to 75 g of oral glucose were observed after inactivity for both diet conditions (P > 0.05). Overfeeding+inactivity increased body weight, body fat, homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance, and 2-h postprandial glucose and insulin concentrations (P < 0.05), despite no changes in lipid concentrations.ConclusionsWe show that independent of diet (normal vs higher-protein), mild energy restriction preserves metabolic function during short-term inactivity in healthy subjects. That is, metabolic deterioration with inactivity only manifests in the setting of energy surplus.

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