Exercise training improves fat metabolism independent of total energy expenditure in sedentary overweight men, but does not restore lean metabolic phenotype

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BACKGROUND:Obesity is a dietary fat storage disease. Although exercise prevents weight gain, effects of chronic training on dietary fat oxidation remains understudied in overweight adults.OBJECTIVE:We tested whether 2 months of training at current guidelines increase dietary fat oxidation in sedentary overweight adults like in sedentary lean adults.DESIGN:Sedentary lean (n = 10) and overweight (n = 9) men trained on a cycle ergometer at 50% VO2peak, 1 h day-1, four times per week, for 2 months while energy balance was clamped. Metabolic fate of [d31]palmitate and [1-13C]oleate mixed in standard meals, total substrate use, total energy expenditure (TEE), activity energy expenditure (AEE) and key muscle proteins/enzymes were measured before and at the end of the intervention.RESULTS:Conversely to lean subjects, TEE and AEE did not increase in overweight participants due to a spontaneous decrease in non-training AEE. Despite this compensatory behavior, aerobic fitness, insulin sensitivity and fat oxidation were improved by exercise training. The latter was not explained by changes in dietary fat trafficking but more likely by a coordinated response at the muscle level enhancing fat uptake, acylation and oxidation (FABPpm, CD36, FATP1, ACSL1, CPT1, mtGPAT). ACSL1 fold change positively correlated with total fasting (R2 = 0.59, P<0.0001) and post-prandial (R2 = 0.49, P = 0.0006) fat oxidation whereas mtGPAT fold change negatively correlated with dietary palmitate oxidation (R2 = 0.40, P = 0.009), suggesting modified fat trafficking between oxidation and storage within the muscle. However, for most of the measured parameters the post-training values observed in overweight adults remained lower than the pre-training values observed in the lean subjects.CONCLUSION:Independent of energy balance and TEE, exercise training at current recommendations improved fitness and fat oxidation in overweight adults. However the improved metabolic phenotype of overweight adults was not as healthy as the one of their lean counterparts before the 2-month training, likely due to the spontaneous reduction in non-training AEE.

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