University of Tasmania

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Fat oxidation over a range of exercise intensities: fitness versus fatness

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 03:39 authored by Croci, I, Hickman, IJ, Wood, RE, Borrani, F, Macdonald, GA, Nuala ByrneNuala Byrne
Maximal fat oxidation (MFO), as well as the exercise intensity at which it occurs (Fatmax), have been reported as lower in sedentary overweight individuals but have not been studied in trained overweight individuals. The aim of this study was to compare Fatmax and MFO in lean and overweight recreationally trained males matched for cardiorespiratory fitness (CRF) and to study the relationships between these variables, anthropometric characteristics, and CRF. Twelve recreationally trained overweight (high fatness (HiFat) group, 30.0% ± 5.3% body fat) and 12 lean males (low fatness (LoFat), 17.2% ± 5.7% body fat) matched for CRF (maximal oxygen consumption (V̇O2max) 39.0 ± 5.5 vs. 41.4 ± 7.6 mL·kg(-1)·min(-1), p = 0.31) and age (p = 0.93) performed a graded exercise test on a cycle ergometer. V̇O2max and fat and carbohydrate oxidation rates were determined using indirect calorimetry; Fatmax and MFO were determined with a mathematical model (SIN); and % body fat was assessed by air displacement plethysmography. MFO (0.38 ± 0.19 vs. 0.42 ± 0.16 g·min(-1), p = 0.58), Fatmax (46.7% ± 8.6% vs. 45.4% ± 7.2% V̇O2max, p = 0.71), and fat oxidation rates over a wide range of exercise intensities were not significantly different (p > 0.05) between HiFat and LoFat groups. In the overall cohort (n = 24), MFO and Fatmax were correlated with V̇O2max (r = 0.46, p = 0.02; r = 0.61, p = 0.002) but not with % body fat or body mass index (p > 0.05). Fat oxidation during exercise was similar in recreationally trained overweight and lean males matched for CRF. Consistently, substrate oxidation rates during exercise were not related to adiposity (% body fat) but were related to CRF. The benefits of high CRF independent of body weight and % body fat should be further highlighted in the management of obesity.


Publication title

Applied physiology, nutrition, and metabolism










School of Health Sciences


National Research Council of Canada

Place of publication


Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the health sciences