Fat metabolism during low-intensity exercise in endurance-trained and untrained men

S. Klein, E. F. Coyle, R. R. Wolfe

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149 Scopus citations


Whole body lipid kinetics were evaluated during basal resting conditions, 4 h of treadmill exercise eliciting an oxygen uptake of 20 ml · kg-1 · min-1, and 1 h of recovery in five untrained and five endurance-trained men. Glycerol and free fatty acid (FFA) rate of appearance (R(a)) values in plasma were determined by infusing [2H5]glycerol and [1-13C]palmitate, respectively, and lipid oxidation was determined by indirect calorimetry. The lipolytic response to 4 h of exercise, expressed as the average glycerol and FFA R(a) values, was similar in both trained (9.85 ± 1.02 and 24.64 ± 3.76 μmol · kg-1 · min-1, respectively) and untrained subjects (11.29 ± 0.99 and 24.13 ± 0.39 μmol · kg-1 · min-1, respectively). However, mean triglyceride oxidation was greater during exercise in the trained than in the untrained group (7.51 ± 0.26 and 5.67 ± 0.51 μmol · kg-1 · min-1, respectively; P < 0.001). During recovery, glycerol and FFA R(a) values decreased more rapidly in trained than in untrained subjects. We conclude that highly trained male endurance runners use more fat as a fuel during low-intensity exercise than do untrained healthy men despite similar rates of lipolysis and FFA uptake from plasma. Therefore, the increase in fat oxidation must be related to an increased percentage of FFA uptake oxidized, a greater contribution from intramuscular triglyceride stores, or both. Additionally, lipid kinetics return to baseline more rapidly in trained than in untrained subjects after completing an exercise bout of the same absolute intensity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E934-E940
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number6 30-6
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994


  • fatty acids
  • glycerol
  • lipid
  • lipolysis
  • palmitate
  • stable isotopes

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