What is it about?

With this work, we aimed to understand why endurance exercise increases fat in muscle.

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Why is it important?

Muscle fat increases with obesity and diabetes. In trained athletes, muscle fat also increases, a phenomenon known as the "athlete’s paradox," a poorly understood occurrence. Understanding why trained athletes accumulate muscle fat will be relevant for uncovering ways to improve metabolism in disease states such as diabetes mellitus.


In this work we uncovered a mechanism that can explain the "athlete's paradox" - that exercise alters the muscle fat phenotype to a "brown" fat phenotype, more significantly in obesity. Brown Adipose Tissue (or Brown fat) is different from White Adipose Tissue (White fat) because it contains a larger capacity to burn fuel and to generate heat, both of which are helpful for overall metabolism. The exercise effect on muscle fat was greater in obese than in lean mice. Additional work will be needed in humans to confirm these findings but the results are intriguing, and additionally, ​may explain a metabolic health benefit that accompanies regular exercise.

Dr Maya Styner
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Medicine, Division of Endocrinology

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Exercise Increases and Browns Muscle Lipid in High-Fat Diet-Fed Mice, Frontiers in Endocrinology, June 2016, Frontiers, DOI: 10.3389/fendo.2016.00080.
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