High-intensity interval exercise attenuates but does not eliminate endothelial dysfunction after a fast food meal

Wesley J. Tucker, Brandon J. Sawyer, Catherine L. Jarrett, Dharini M. Bhammar, Justin R. Ryder, Siddhartha Angadi, Glenn Gaesser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


We investigated whether two different bouts of high-intensity interval exercise (HIIE) could attenuate postprandial endothelial dysfunction. Thirteen young (27 ± 1 yr), nonexercise-trained men underwent three randomized conditions: 1) four 4-min intervals at 85–95% of maximum heart rate separated by 3 min of active recovery (HIIE 4 × 4), 2) 16 1-min intervals at 85–95% of maximum heart rate separated by 1 min of active recovery (HIIE 16 × 1), and 3) sedentary control. HIIE was performed in the afternoon, ~18 h before the morning fast food meal (1,250 kcal, 63g of fat). Brachial artery flow-mediated dilation (FMD) was performed before HIIE (baseline 1), during fasting before meal ingestion (baseline 2), and 30 min, 2 h, and 4 h postprandial. Capillary glucose and triglycerides were assessed at fasting, 30 min, 1 h, 2 h, and 4 h (triglycerides only). Both HIIE protocols increased fasting FMD compared with control (HIIE 4 × 4: 6.1 ± 0.4%, HIIE 16 × 1: 6.3 ± 0.5%, and control: 5.1 ± 0.4%, P < 0.001). For both HIIE protocols, FMD was reduced only at 30 min postprandial but never fell below baseline 1 or FMD during control at any time point. In contrast, control FMD decreased at 2 h (3.8 ± 0.4%, P < 0.001) and remained significantly lower than HIIE 4 × 4 and 16 × 1 at 2 and 4 h. Postprandial glucose and triglycerides were unaffected by HIIE. In conclusion, HIIE performed ~18 h before a high-energy fast food meal can attenuate but not entirely eliminate postprandial decreases in FMD. This effect is not dependent on reductions in postprandial lipemia or glycemia. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Two similar high-intensity interval exercise (HIIE) protocols performed -18 h before ingestion of a high-energy fast food meal attenuated but did not entirely eliminate postprandial endothelial dysfunction in young men largely by improving fasting endothelial function. Both HIIE protocols produced essentially identical results, suggesting high reproducibility of HIIE effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)H188-H194
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2018


  • Endothelial function
  • Flow-mediated dilation
  • High-fat meal
  • High-intensity exercise
  • Postprandial

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine
  • Physiology (medical)


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