Objective: To evaluate the effects of an intense physical training program on abdominal fat distribution, glycemic control, and insulin sensitivity in patients with NIDDM and to determine whether branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) supplements influence these effects.
Research design and methods: Twenty-four patients (ages 45 +/- 2 [mean +/- SE] years, BMI 30.2 +/- 0.9 kg/m2, HbA1c 7.9 +/- 0.3%) were randomly assigned to four groups: training plus BCAA supplement (n = 6), training plus placebo (n = 6), sedentary plus BCAA supplement (n = 6), and sedentary plus placebo (n = 6). Physical training consisted of a supervised 45-min cycling exercise at 75% of their oxygen uptake peak (VO2 peak) two times per week and an intermittent exercise one time per week for 2 months.
Results: Patients who exercised increased their VO2 peak by 41% and their insulin sensitivity by 46%. Physical training significantly decreased abdominal fat evaluated by magnetic resonance imaging (umbilicus), with a greater loss of visceral adipose tissue (VAT) (48%) in comparison with the loss of subcutaneous adipose tissue (18%), but did not significantly affect body weight. The change in visceral abdominal fat was associated with the improvement in insulin sensitivity (r = 0.84, P = 0.001). BCAA supplementation had no effect on abdominal fat and glucose metabolism.
Conclusions: Physical training resulted in an improvement in insulin sensitivity with concomitant loss of VAT and should be included in the treatment program for patients with NIDDM.