Project Description

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Insulin-Resistance, Metabolism and Diet-Related Factors in Middle-Aged Overweight Endurance Runners

Written by: TalkFEED Media 31 May 2015 Researcher: James Smith, David Leith, Prof Noakes


Health guidelines over recent decades have advised the public to exercise regularly and eat a “prudent, balanced diet” that is high in carbohydrate and low in fat. Similarly, the status quo for people engaging in endurance exercise has been to prioritise carbohydrate consumption before, during, and after exercise to ensure adequate energy during training and competition and to promote recovery afterwards. However, there appears to be a growing number of endurance runners who follow these guidelines yet progressively gain weight and experience a gradual decline in their running performance.


This study aims to understand why some runners gain weight while others remain lean. Health risk factors and metabolism in relation to dietary and other lifestyle practices will be investigated in middle-aged male and female endurance runners with a range of body compositions (from lean to exceptionally overweight).

This will hopefully shed some light on why contemporary advice has not worked for everyone, and how people may need to individualise dietary practices to their own physiology. Based on the findings of this study, a dietary intervention trial in overweight runners will be conducted to see which factors (including insulin resistance) might affect how a person responds to a low carbohydrate high fat diet in terms of weight management, health and endurance performance.

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