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The effect of morning vs evening exercise training on glycaemic control and serum metabolites in overweight/obese men: a randomised trial

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posted on 03.12.2021, 05:31 authored by T Moholdt, EB Parr, Brooke DevlinBrooke Devlin, J Debik, G Giskeødegård, JA Hawley
Aims/hypothesis: We determined whether the time of day of exercise training (morning vs evening) would modulate the effects of consumption of a high-fat diet (HFD) on glycaemic control, whole-body health markers and serum metabolomics. Methods: In this three-armed parallel-group randomised trial undertaken at a university in Melbourne, Australia, overweight/obese men consumed an HFD (65% of energy from fat) for 11 consecutive days. Participants were recruited via social media and community advertisements. Eligibility criteria for participation were male sex, age 30–45 years, BMI 27.0–35.0 kg/m2 and sedentary lifestyle. The main exclusion criteria were known CVD or type 2 diabetes, taking prescription medications, and shift-work. After 5 days, participants were allocated using a computer random generator to either exercise in the morning (06:30 hours), exercise in the evening (18:30 hours) or no exercise for the subsequent 5 days. Participants and researchers were not blinded to group assignment. Changes in serum metabolites, circulating lipids, cardiorespiratory fitness, BP, and glycaemic control (from continuous glucose monitoring) were compared between groups. Results: Twenty-five participants were randomised (morning exercise n = 9; evening exercise n = 8; no exercise n = 8) and 24 participants completed the study and were included in analyses (n = 8 per group). Five days of HFD induced marked perturbations in serum metabolites related to lipid and amino acid metabolism. Exercise training had a smaller impact than the HFD on changes in circulating metabolites, and only exercise undertaken in the evening was able to partly reverse some of the HFD-induced changes in metabolomic profiles. Twenty-four-hour glucose concentrations were lower after 5 days of HFD compared with the participants’ habitual diet (5.3 ± 0.4 vs 5.6 ± 0.4 mmol/l, p = 0.001). There were no significant changes in 24 h glucose concentrations for either exercise group but lower nocturnal glucose levels were observed in participants who trained in the evening, compared with when they consumed the HFD alone (4.9 ± 0.4 vs 5.3 ± 0.3 mmol/l, p = 0.04). Compared with the no-exercise group, peak oxygen uptake improved after both morning (estimated effect 1.3 ml min−1 kg−1 [95% CI 0.5, 2.0], p = 0.003) and evening exercise (estimated effect 1.4 ml min−1 kg−1 [95% CI 0.6, 2.2], p = 0.001). Fasting blood glucose, insulin, cholesterol, triacylglycerol and LDL-cholesterol concentrations decreased only in participants allocated to evening exercise training. There were no unintended or adverse effects. Conclusions/interpretation: A short-term HFD in overweight/obese men induced substantial alterations in lipid- and amino acid-related serum metabolites. Improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness were similar regardless of the time of day of exercise training. However, improvements in glycaemic control and partial reversal of HFD-induced changes in metabolic profiles were only observed when participants exercise trained in the evening.


Open access funding provided by NTNU Norwegian University of Science and Technology (incl St. Olavs Hospital Trondheim University Hospital). This research was supported by a Novo Nordisk Foundation Challenge Grant (NNF14OC0011493) to JAH and a Mobility Grant from The Liaison Committee for Education, Research and Innovation in Central Norway (2016/29014) to TM.


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