The effect of exercise and nutrition on intramuscular fat metabolism and insulin sensitivity

Annu Rev Nutr. 2010 Aug 21;30:13-34. doi: 10.1146/annurev.nutr.012809.104817.


Intramuscular triacylglycerol (IMTG) is both a dynamic fat-storage depot that can expand during periods of elevated lipid availability and a fatty acid source that can be utilized during periods of increased energy expenditure in active individuals. Although many studies have investigated the lifestyle determinants of IMTG content, the results are far from consistent, and studies attempting to unravel the mechanisms behind IMTG metabolism are in their infancy. The limited evidence available suggests that the enzymes responsible for skeletal muscle lipolysis and IMTG synthesis play an important role in determining the fate of fatty acids and therefore the concentration of lipid metabolites and insulin sensitivity of skeletal muscle. This review provides a summary of current knowledge on the effects of acute and chronic exercise as well as energy intake and macronutrient composition of the diet upon the metabolism of IMTG and the implications for metabolic health.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diet
  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Lipid Metabolism / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena / physiology*
  • Triglycerides / metabolism*


  • Triglycerides