Resting and exercise fuel metabolism was assessed in three different phases of the menstrual cycle, characterized by different levels of estrogen relative to progesterone: early follicular (EF, low estrogen and progesterone), midfollicular (MF, elevated estrogen, low progesterone), and midluteal (ML, elevated estrogen and progesterone). It was hypothesized that exercise glucose utilization and whole body carbohydrate oxidation would decrease sequentially from the EF to the MF to the ML phase. Normal-weight healthy females, experiencing a regular menstrual cycle, were recruited. Subjects were moderately active but not highly trained. Testing occurred after 3 days of diet control and after an overnight fast (12–13 h). Resting (2 h) and exercise (50% maximal O2 uptake, 90 min) measurements of whole body substrate oxidation, tracer-determined glucose flux, and substrate and hormone concentrations were made. No significant difference was observed in whole body fuel oxidation during exercise in the three phases (nonprotein respiratory exchange ratio: EF 0.84 ± 0.01, MF 0.85 ± 0.01, ML 0.85 ± 0.01) or in rates of glucose appearance or disappearance. There were, however, significantly higher glucose (P < 0.05) and insulin (P < 0.001) concentrations during the first 45 min of exercise in the ML phase vs. EF and MF phases. In conclusion, whole body substrate oxidation and glucose utilization did not vary significantly across the menstrual cycle in moderately active women, either at rest or during 90 min of moderate-intensity exercise. During the ML phase, however, this similar pattern of substrate utilization was associated with greater glucose and insulin concentrations. Both estrogen and progesterone are elevated during the ML phase of the menstrual cycle, suggesting that one or both of these sex steroids may play a role in this response.
- substrate oxidation
- female sex steroids
- glucose metabolism
- Copyright © 2002 the American Physiological Society