Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Acquittal: Anti-Oxidants do not Blunt the Beneficial Effect of Endurance Training on Insulin Sensitivity!

Regular visitors of the SuppVersity will remember that there has been and still is a controversy about whether or not athletes and average gymrats benefit from antioxidants or whether this may even blunt training induced adaptation effects. Other than a 2009 study by Ristow et al. (Ristow. 2009), a more recent investigation into the effects of antioxidant supplementation (Yfanti. 2011), coming from my northern neighbors from Denmark, did not find any negative effects of antioxidants on the exercise induced rise in insulin sensitivity.

In the study 21 young, healthy men, who received 500 mg vitamin C and 400 IU vitamin E (α-tocopherol) daily, completed a 5-days-a-week supervised intense endurance-training (interval training on Tuesday & Thursday; steady-state cardio on Wednesday & Friday). Insulin response, maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max), maximal power output (Pmax) and body composition (fat mass, fat-free mass) were measured and "muscle biopsies were obtained for determination of the concentration and activity of proteins regulating glucose metabolism". The scientists summarize their results as follows:
Although plasma levels of vitamin C (P < 0.05) and α-tocopherol (P < 0.05) increased markedly in the AO group, insulin-stimulated glucose uptake increased similarly in both the AO (17.2%, P < 0.05) and the PL (18.9%, P < 0.05) group in response to training. VO2max and Pmax also increased similarly in both groups (time effect: P < 0.0001 for both) as well as protein content of GLUT4, hexokinase 2 and total Akt (time effect: P ≤ 0.05 for all).
I don't know if you consider this "good" or "bad" news, but in any case, I suspect you will want to know what happened to the participants body composition (at least I would want). Well, the scientists say, there were no significant pre-post changes and from a statistic point of view, this is unquestionably right. I find it interesting, nevertheless that the average decline in fat mass was somewhat larger in the placebo (-21%)  vs. the anti-oxidant group (-8%); the intra-group differences are however so large that, with the given count of subjects, this is hardly meaningful.