The effects of prior high-intensity cycle exercise (85% VO2 max) to muscular exhaustion on basal and insulinstimulated glucose metabolism were studied in obese, insulin-resistant, and normal subjects. Six obese (30.4% fat) and six lean (14.5% fat) adult males underwent two separate, two-level hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamp studies (100-min infusions at 40 and 400 mU/m2/min), with and without exercise 12 h earlier. Carbohydrate oxidation was estimated by indirect calorimetry using a ventilated hood system, and endogenous glucose production by D-(3-3H)-glucose infusion. Glycogen content and glycogen synthase activity (GS %l) were measured in vastus lateralis muscle biopsies before and at the end of each insulin clamp procedure.

After exercise, the obese and lean subjects had comparably low muscle glycogen concentrations (0.10 versus 0.08 mg/g protein, respectively), and equal activation of muscle GS activity (54.4 versus 45.3 GS %l, respectively). In the obese subjects, insulin-stimulated glucose disposal was increased significantly, but not totally corrected to normal. In both groups there was a comparable increase in nonoxidative glucose disposal (NOGD), whereas glucose oxidation was decreased and lipid oxidation was increased. Thus, the major effect of prior exercise was to increase insulin-stimulated glucose disposal in the obese subjects and to alter the pathways of glucose metabolism to favor NOGD and decrease glucose oxidation.

No correlation was found between the exercise-induced increase in GS %l and NOGD, except in the normal subjects during maximal insulin stimulation. Thus, glycogen synthase activity does not appear to be ratelimiting fpr NOGD at physiologic insulin concentrations. Our findings suggest that a single bout of glycogendepleting exercise can increase glucose disposal for at least 12–14 h in obese subjects with insulin resistance.

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