Prolonged overeating and the resultant weight gain are clearly linked with the development of insulin resistance and other cardiometabolic abnormalities, but adaptations that occur after relatively short periods of overeating are not completely understood. The purpose of this study was to characterize metabolic adaptations that may accompany the development of insulin resistance after 2 weeks of overeating. Healthy, nonobese subjects (n = 9) were admitted to the hospital for 2 weeks, during which time they ate ~4000 kcals·day-1 (70 kcal·kg-1 fat free mass·day-1). Insulin sensitivity was estimated during a meal tolerance test, and a muscle biopsy was obtained to assess muscle lipid accumulation and protein markers associated with insulin resistance, inflammation, and the regulation of lipid metabolism. Whole-body insulin sensitivity declined markedly after 2 weeks of overeating (Matsuda composite index: 8.3 ± 1.3 vs. 4.6 ± 0.7, p < 0.05). However, muscle markers of insulin resistance and inflammation (i.e., phosphorylation of IRS-1-Ser312, Akt-Ser473, and c-Jun N-terminal kinase) were not altered by overeating. Intramyocellular lipids tended to increase after 2 weeks of overeating (triacylglyceride: 7.6 ± 1.6 vs. 10.0 ± 1.8 nmol·mg-1 wet weight; diacylglyceride: 104 ± 10 vs. 142 ± 23 pmol·mg-1 wet weight) but these changes did not reach statistical significance. Overeating induced a 2-fold increase in 24-h insulin response (area under the curve (AUC); p < 0.05), with a resultant ~35% reduction in 24-h plasma fatty acid AUC (p < 0.05). This chronic reduction in circulating fatty acids may help explain the lack of a robust increase in muscle lipid accumulation. In summary, our findings suggest alterations in skeletal muscle metabolism may not contribute meaningfully to the marked whole-body insulin resistance observed after 2 weeks of overeating.
- Insulin sensitivity