Postprandial Metabolism of Macronutrients and Cardiometabolic Risk: Recent Developments, Emerging Concepts, and Future Directions

Adv Nutr. 2016 Mar 15;7(2):364-74. doi: 10.3945/an.115.010397. Print 2016 Mar.


Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the United States. Although the role of habitual lifestyle factors such as physical activity and dietary patterns in increasing CVD risk has long been appreciated, less is known about how acute daily activities may cumulatively contribute to long-term disease risk. Here, the term acute refers to metabolic responses occurring in a short period of time after eating, and the goal of this article is to review recently identified stressors that can occur after meals and during the sleep-wake cycle to affect macronutrient metabolism. It is hypothesized that these events, when repeated on a regular basis, contribute to the observed long-term behavioral risks identified in population studies. In this regard, developments in research methods have supported key advancements in 3 fields of macronutrient metabolism. The first of these research areas is the focus on the immediate postmeal metabolism, spanning from early intestinal adsorptive events to the impact of incretin hormones on these events. The second topic is a focus on the importance of meal components on postprandial vasculature function. Finally, some of the most exciting advances are being made in understanding dysregulation in metabolism early in the day, due to insufficient sleep, that may affect subsequent processing of nutrients throughout the day. Key future research questions are highlighted which will lead to a better understanding of the relations between nocturnal, basal (fasting), and early postmeal events, and aid in the development of optimal sleep and targeted dietary patterns to reduce cardiometabolic risk.

Keywords: incretins; lipids; meal metabolism; postprandial; sleep restriction; vascular function.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / immunology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / metabolism*
  • Congresses as Topic
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / epidemiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / etiology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / immunology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Dietary Fats / metabolism*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / immunology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism*
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Enterocytes / immunology
  • Enterocytes / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Intestinal Absorption*
  • Oxidative Stress*
  • Postprandial Period
  • Risk
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology
  • United States / epidemiology


  • Dietary Fats