Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Exercise and blood glucose levels: Insulin and glucose responses to exercise

The notion that exercising reduces blood glucose levels is prevalent. That idea is largely incorrect. Workout seems to have a good influence on insulin sensitivity in the prolonged expression, but also will increase blood glucose amounts in the quick term. That is, workout, even though it is going on, prospects to an enhance in circulating blood glucose. In normoglycemic people, that enhance is fairly small in comparison to the enhance brought on by usage of carbohydrate-prosperous foods, notably meals rich in refined carbs and sugars.

The figure under, from the outstanding ebook by Wilmore and colleagues (2007), displays the variation of blood insulin and glucose in response to an endurance exercising session. The physical exercise session’s intensity was at 65 to 70 p.c of the individuals’ maximal ability (i.e., their VO2 max). The session lasted one hundred eighty minutes, or 3 hours. The full reference to the book by Wilmore and colleagues is at the end of this submit.

As you can see, blood insulin amounts decreased markedly in response to the exercise bout, in an exponential decay fashion. Blood glucose improved quickly, from about five.1 mmol/l (ninety one.eight mg/dl) to 5.four mmol/l (97.two mg/dl), before dropping once again. Note that blood glucose amounts remained fairly elevated throughout the workout session. But, still, the elevation was relatively small in the members, which had been all normoglycemic. A pair of bagels would effortlessly induce a increase to a hundred and sixty mg/dl in about 45 minutes in these folks, and a much bigger “area underneath the curve” glucose reaction than workout.

So what is heading on below? Shouldn’t glucose amounts go down, given that muscle mass is utilizing glucose for power?

No, since the human entire body is significantly far more “concerned” with trying to keep blood glucose stages high sufficient to support people cells that absolutely need to have glucose, this kind of as mind and pink blood cells. Throughout exercise, the brain will derive part of its vitality from ketones, but will nevertheless require glucose to operate properly. In truth, that need to have is essential for survival, and may possibly be noticed as a little bit of an evolutionary flaw. Hypoglycemia, if taken care of for as well long, will direct to seizures, coma, and demise.

Muscle tissue will improve its uptake of cost-free fatty acids and ketones for the duration of exercising, to spare glucose for the mind. And muscle mass tissue will also take in glucose, in part for glycogenesis that is, for making muscle glycogen, which is getting depleted by exercising. In this feeling, we can say that muscle mass tissue is getting to be relatively insulin resistant, due to the fact it is using more free of charge fatty acids and ketones for energy, and thus less glucose. Yet another way of looking at this, nevertheless, which is favored by Wilmore and colleagues (2007), is that muscle tissue is turning into far more insulin sensitive, simply because it is still using up glucose, even though insulin ranges are dropping.

Real truth be advised, the dialogue in the paragraph previously mentioned is mostly educational, simply because muscle tissue can get up glucose without having insulin. Insulin is a hormone that permits the pancreas, its secreting organ, to converse with two primary organs – the liver and entire body unwanted fat. (Yes, entire body body fat can be seen as an “organ”, because it has a number of endocrine features.) Insulin alerts to the liver that it is time to take up blood glucose and possibly make glycogen (to be stored in the liver) or body fat with it (secreting that fat in VLDL particles). Insulin alerts to entire body fat that it is time to get up blood glucose and excess fat (e.g., packaged in chylomicrons) and make far more human body body fat with it. Reduced insulin amounts, throughout workout, will do the opposite, top to reduced glucose uptake by the liver and an increase in body body fat catabolism.

Resistance physical exercise (e.g., fat training) induces significantly larger glucose amounts than stamina exercising and this transpires even when one particular has fasted for 20 hours just before the exercising session. The purpose is that resistance physical exercise leads to the conversion of muscle glycogen into strength, releasing lactate in the method. Lactate is in switch utilized by muscle tissues as a supply of energy, helping spare glycogen. It is also utilised by the liver for generation of glucose by way of gluconeogenesis, which drastically elevates blood glucose ranges. That hepatic glucose is then used by muscle mass tissues to replenish their depleted glycogen shops. This is acknowledged as the Cori cycle.

Physical exercise seems to lead, in the long term, to insulin sensitivity but by way of a relatively complex and longitudinal procedure that entails the conversation of many hormones. 1 of the mechanisms might be an total reduction in insulin levels, major to improved insulin sensitivity as a compensatory adaptation. In the quick expression, specifically while it is currently being conducted, workout virtually often increases blood glucose amounts. Even in the initial few months right after the starting of an exercise program, blood glucose ranges may possibly boost. If a particular person who was on a low carbohydrate diet plan began a three-thirty day period exercising software, it is really feasible that the person’s common blood glucose would go up a little bit. If minimal carbohydrate dieting began jointly with the workout software, then common blood glucose might drop drastically, because of the acute effect of this kind of dieting on typical blood glucose.

Nevertheless exercising is well being-selling. The mixture of the prolonged- and short-term consequences of exercising appears to guide to an all round slowing down of the progression of insulin resistance with age. This is a excellent issue.


Wilmore, J.H., Costill, D.L., & Kenney, W.L. (2007). Physiology of sport and exercising. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Title: Exercise and blood glucose levels: Insulin and glucose responses to exercise
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