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A university study says that aerobic exercise, a known means of increasing insulin sensitivity, is most effective if the meals following it are low in carbohydrates. The study also revealed that consuming a low-calorie meal after exercising does not increase insulin sensitivity any better than eating a low-carb meal after a workout. In addition, it found that the beneficial effects of exercise are immediate and do not build up over time or last very long. Improvements in metabolism, including insulin sensitivity and lowered blood pressure, occur directly as a result of the latest exercise session, but taper off within hours or days. There is no "storing up" the benefits of exercise.
The study, which appears in the online edition of the Journal of Applied Physiology, was conducted by the University of Michigan. It looked at the effects of post-exercise diet on nine sedentary men, all healthy and in their late 20s. The men, who fasted beforehand, participated in four different study sessions, each lasting almost 30 hours.
The sessions differed in terms of what the men ate after exercising (or not exercising) on a treadmill and stationary bicycle:
The participants experienced increased insulin sensitivity after each of the three exercise sessions. However, the low-carb meals produced "significantly more" insulin sensitivity. That finding, said the researchers, indicates that even without dieting or losing weight, sedentary people who exercise and then eat a low-carb meal can gain an immediate metabolic benefit.
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