Postprandial skeletal muscle metabolism following a high-fat diet in sedentary and endurance-trained males

Mary Elizabeth Baugh, Suzanne M. Bowser, Ryan P. McMillan, Brenda M. Davy, Lauren A. Essenmacher, Andrew P. Neilson, Matthew W. Hulver, Kevin P. Davy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Our objective was to determine the influence of a high-fat diet (HFD) on fasting and postprandial skeletal muscle substrate metabolism in endurance-trained (ET) compared with sedentary (SED) humans. SED (n = 17) and ET (n = 7) males were control-fed a 10-day moderate-fat diet followed by a 5-day isocaloric HFD (55% fat. 30% carbohydrate). Skeletal muscle biopsies were taken in the fasted condition and 4 h after a high-fat meal (820 kcals; 63% fat and 25% carbohydrate). Palmitate-induced suppression of pyruvate oxidation, an indication of substrate preference. and oxidation of fat and glucose were measured in homogenized skeletal muscle in fasted and fed states. Postprandial responses were calculated as percent changes from fasting to fed states. Postprandial suppression of pyruvate oxidation was maintained after the HFD in ET, but not SED skeletal muscle, suggesting greater adaptability to dietary intake changes in the former. Fasting total fat oxidation increased due to the HFD in ET skeletal muscle (P = 0.006), which was driven by incomplete fat oxidation (P = 0.008). Fasting fat oxidation remained unchanged in skeletal muscle of SED individuals. Yet. postprandial fat oxidation was similar between groups. Fasting glucose oxidation was elevated after the HFD in ET (P = 0.036), but not SEI), skeletal muscle. Postprandial glucose oxidation was reduced due to the HFD in SED (P = 0.002), but not ET, skeletal muscle. These findings provide insight into differing substrate metabolism responses between SED and ET individuals and highlight the role that the prevailing diet may play in modulating fasting and postprandial metabolic responses in skeletal muscle.

NEW & NOTEWORTHY The relationship between high dietary fat intake and physical activity level and their combined effect on skeletal muscle substrate metabolism remains unclear. We assessed the influence of the prevailing diet in modulating substrate oxidation in skeletal muscle of endurance-trained compared with sedentary humans during a high-fat challenge meal. Collectively, our findings demonstrate the adaptability of skeletal muscle in endurance-trained individuals to high dietary fat intake.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)872-883
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • exercise
  • high-fat diet
  • metabolic flexibility
  • skeletal muscle
  • substrate oxidation

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