Effects of neuromuscular electrical stimulation on energy expenditure and postprandial metabolism in healthy men

Yung Chih Chen*, Russell G. Davies, Aaron Hengist, Harriet A. Carroll, Oliver J. Perkin, James A. Betts, Dylan Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


It is unclear whether neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES) has meaningful metabolic effects when users have the opportunity to self-select the intensity to one that can be comfortably tolerated. Nine healthy men aged 28 6 9y (mean 6 SD) with a body mass index 22.3 6 2.3 kg/m2 completed 3 trials involving a 2-h oral glucose tolerance test whilst, in a randomised counterbalanced order, (1) sitting motionless (SIT), (2) standing motionless (STAND); and (3) sitting motionless with NMES of quadriceps and calves at a self-selected tolerable intensity. The mean (95% confidence interval [CI]) total energy expenditure was greater in the NMES trial (221 [180–262] kcal/2 h) and STAND trial (178 [164–191] kcal/2 h) than during SIT (159 [150–167] kcal/2 h) (both, p < 0.05). This was primarily driven by an increase in carbohydrate oxidation in the NMES and STAND trials compared with the SIT trial (p < 0.05). Postprandial insulin iAUC was lower in both NMES and STAND compared with SIT (16.4 [7.7–25.1], 17 [7–27] and 22.6 [10.8–34.4] nmol·120 min/L, respectively; both, p < 0.05). Compared with sitting, both NMES and STAND increased energy expenditure and whole-body carbohydrate oxidation and reduced postprandial insulin concentrations in healthy men, with more pronounced effects seen with NMES. Self-selected NMES is a potential strategy for improving metabolic health. This trial is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov (ID: NCT04389736). Novelty: • NMES at a comfortable intensity enhances energy expenditure and carbohydrate oxidation, and reduces postprandial insulinemia. • Thus, self-selected NMES represents a potential strategy to improve metabolic health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-33
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Carbohydrate oxidation
  • Glucose control
  • Insulin resistance
  • NMES
  • Standing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physiology (medical)


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