Maximal fat oxidation rates in endurance trained and untrained women

Eur J Appl Physiol. 2006 Nov;98(5):497-506. doi: 10.1007/s00421-006-0290-x. Epub 2006 Sep 28.


The aim of the present study was to examine the differences in fat oxidation between endurance trained (ET) and untrained (UT) women. Eight ET and nine UT women performed a progressive cycle ergometer test until exhaustion. The rate of fat oxidation was similar at low work rates (<or=90 W) but was 80-200% higher in ET subjects at 120-180 W. When related to relative exercise intensity, the fat oxidation was similar in the low-intensity domain (<or=40% VO2max), but higher in the ET subjects both at moderate intensities (45-60% VO2max; +22% vs. UT) and at high intensities (65-80% VO2max; +35% vs. UT). There was no difference in the maximal fat oxidation rates between the trained and untrained women. The relative exercise intensity that elicited the highest rate of fat oxidation (Fatmax) was 56+/-3% and 53+/-2% VO2max in ET and UT women, respectively (NS). In biopsies from m. vastus lateralis, the activity of the enzymes citrate synthase, beta-hydroxy acyl CoA dehydrogenase (HAD), and hormone sensitive lipase was higher in the ET subjects. The HAD activity correlated significantly with fat oxidation at moderate and high intensities. We conclude that the ET women had a higher fat oxidation at moderate- and high-exercise intensities both at same relative and at absolute intensity compared with the UT women. The HAD activity and fat oxidation rates were highly correlated indicating that training-induced adaptation in muscle fat oxidative capacity is an important factor for enhanced fat oxidation. Interestingly, maximal fat oxidation occurred at the same exercise intensity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenases / blood
  • Adult
  • Body Composition / physiology
  • Citrate (si)-Synthase / blood
  • Exercise Test
  • Female
  • Glycogen / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Lipase / blood
  • Lipid Metabolism / physiology*
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / cytology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Endurance / physiology*
  • Physical Fitness / physiology*
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange / physiology


  • Glycogen
  • Acyl-CoA Dehydrogenases
  • Citrate (si)-Synthase
  • Lipase