Exercise resulted in changes to levels of more than 20 metabolites that were involved with the metabolism of sugar, fats, amino acids, along with the use of ATP, the primary source of cellular energy, according to the study.
After running on a treadmill for 10 minutes, people who were relatively more fit had a 98 percent increase in the breakdown of stored fat, sugar, and amino acids, while less-fit people had only a 48 percent increase.
The very fit had the biggest difference of all. Blood samples taken from 25 people before and after they ran the 2006 Boston Marathon found a 1,128 percent increase in some key metabolites.
It's unknown whether training boosts the ability of people to burn fat more efficiently, or if more fit people were genetically able to burn fat more efficiently, though it's likely some combination of the two, Gerszten said.
The researchers also found that exercise boosted levels of niacinamide, a vitamin derivative that enhances insulin release.
To investigate what biological mechanisms may be occurring, the researchers applied different combinations of metabolites to muscle cells in a lab. They found that a combination of five molecules shown to be elevated by exercise increased expression of "nur77" -- a gene that research has shown is involved with regulating blood sugar levels and lipid metabolism. The production of the nur77 gene also increased fivefold in the muscles of mice that had exercised for 30 minutes, according to the study.
The gene and its associated metabolites hint at new treatments for metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes, the researchers said.
Abundant research has shown that exercise is beneficial to health, from reducing the risk of
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