Effects of neuromuscular electrical stimulation on energy expenditure and postprandial metabolism in healthy men

Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2021 Aug 17:1-7. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2021-0361. Online ahead of print.


It is unclear whether neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) has meaningful metabolic effects when users have the opportunity to self-select the intensity to one that can be comfortably tolerated. Nine healthy men aged 28 ± 9 y (mean ± SD) with a body mass index 22.3 ± 2.3 kg/m2 completed 3 trials involving a 2-h oral glucose tolerance test whilst, in a randomised counterbalanced order, (1) sitting motionless (SIT), (2) standing motionless (STAND); and (3) sitting motionless with NMES of quadriceps and calves at a self-selected tolerable intensity. The mean (95% confidence interval [CI]) total energy expenditure was greater in the NMES trial (221 [180-262] kcal/2 h) and STAND trial (178 [164-191] kcal/2 h) than during SIT (159 [150-167] kcal/2 h) (both, p < 0.05). This was primarily driven by an increase in carbohydrate oxidation in the NMES and STAND trials compared with the SIT trial (p < 0.05). Postprandial insulin iAUC was lower in both NMES and STAND compared with SIT (16.4 [7.7-25.1], 17 [7-27] and 22.6 [10.8-34.4] nmol·120 min/L, respectively; both, p < 0.05). Compared with sitting, both NMES and STAND increased energy expenditure and whole-body carbohydrate oxidation and reduced postprandial insulin concentrations in healthy men, with more pronounced effects seen with NMES. Self-selected NMES is a potential strategy for improving metabolic health. This trial is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov (ID: NCT04389736). Novelty: NMES at a comfortable intensity enhances energy expenditure and carbohydrate oxidation, and reduces postprandial insulinemia. Thus, self-selected NMES represents a potential strategy to improve metabolic health.

Keywords: NMES; carbohydrate oxidation; contrôle de la glycémie; debout; glucose control; insulin resistance; oxydation des glucides; résistance à l’insuline; standing.

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT04389736