The effect of preprandial versus postprandial physical activity on glycaemia: Meta-analysis of human intervention studies

Romy Slebe, Eva Wenker, Linda J. Schoonmade, Emma J. Bouman, Denis P. Blondin, David J. T. Campbell, André C. Carpentier, Joris Hoeks, Parminder Raina, Patrick Schrauwen, Mireille J. Serlie, Dirk Jan Stenvers, Renée de Mutsert, Joline W. J. Beulens, Femke Rutters

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


This meta-analysis aims to investigate the effect of preprandial physical activity (PA) versus postprandial PA on glycaemia in human intervention studies. Medline and were searched until February 2023 for intervention studies in adults, directly comparing preprandial PA versus postprandial PA on glycaemia. Studies were screened using ASReview (34,837) and full texts were read by two independent reviewers (42 full text, 28 included). Results were analysed using pooled mean differences in random-effects models. Studies were either acute response studies (n = 21) or Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) over multiple weeks (n = 7). In acute response studies, postprandial outcomes followed the expected physiological patterns, and outcomes measured over 24 h showed no significant differences. For the RCTs, glucose area under the curve during a glucose tolerance test was slightly, but not significantly lower in preprandial PA vs postprandial PA (-0.29 [95 %CI:-0.66, 0.08] mmol/L, I 2 = 64.36 %). Subgroup analyses (quality, health status, etc.) did not significantly change the outcomes. In conclusion, we found no differences between preprandial PA versus postprandial PA on glycaemia both after one PA bout as well as after multiple weeks of PA. The studies were of low to moderate quality of evidence as assessed by GRADE, showed contradictive results, included no long-term studies and used various designs and populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111638
JournalDiabetes Research and Clinical Practice
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2024


  • Blood glucose
  • Exercise
  • Glycaemic control
  • Postprandial period
  • Preprandial period
  • Timing

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