New study shows Spirulina and high-intensity training combo reduces obesity complications in men

In a recent study published in Nutrients, researchers explored the effects of combining high-intensity interval training (HIIT) with spirulina supplements to mitigate cardiometabolic disease risk and control obesity-related adipokine release.

Study: Spirulina Supplementation with High-Intensity Interval Training Decreases Adipokines Levels and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Men with Obesity. Image Credit: pilipphoto/Shutterstock.comStudy: Spirulina Supplementation with High-Intensity Interval Training Decreases Adipokines Levels and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Men with Obesity. Image Credit: pilipphoto/Shutterstock.com

Background

Obesity is a public health problem, impacting several physiological systems and leading to various disorders. The condition is associated with metabolic issues and oxidative stress that impair cellular and tissue function.

It has been noted that dietary antioxidants can lower serum lipid levels, waist circumference, body fat, and hunger. However, the effect of spirulina supplementation on inflammation and oxidative stress markers in humans is still being contested.

Regular exercise stimulates endogenous antioxidants, which protect the body from oxidative damage. Spirulina supplementation can potentially improve fat oxidation, glutathione levels, and exercise performance while decreasing lipid peroxidation.

The relationship between spirulina supplementation and exercises that reduce oxidative stress and inflammatory indicators is unclear.

About the study

In the present study, researchers investigated whether spirulina supplementation and HIIT combined intervention would reduce adipokine levels and cardiovascular risk among obese males.

The team evaluated the changes in lipid profile and serum adipokine levels by combining the HIIT regimen with spirulina supplements for 84 days in 44 obese males. Eligible individuals had a body mass index (BMI) above 30 kg/m², did not exercise regularly in the previous six months, did not have a history of endocrine or cardiovascular diseases, and did not smoke or drink alcohol.

The intervention included Spirulina supplementation (six grams daily in two divided doses) with and without high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for 12 weeks.

The study participants were randomized into the following groups of 11 individuals each: the HIIT group (TG), the spirulina supplementation group (SG), the spirulina supplement plus HIIT group (TSG), and the control group (CG).

The individuals underwent a comprehensive physical assessment conducted by qualified medical professionals and clinical exercise physiologists at baseline, provided blood samples for analysis, and filled out the Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire (PAR-Q).

Post-intervention, anthropometric measurements, metabolic parameters, cardiopulmonary indices, and adipokines. Metabolic parameters included serum total cholesterol (TC), triglycerides (TGL), low-density cholesterol (LDL-C), and high-density cholesterol (HDL-C).

Adipokines investigated were highly-sensitive-C-reactive protein (hs-CRP), semaphorin-3C (Sema3C), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), interleukin-6 (IL-6), IL-8, and monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP1)] were assessed.

The team measured TNF-α, hs-CRP, IL-6, IL-8, Sema3C, and MCP-1 levels using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). Oxygen consumption during physical exertion was assessed based on VO2peak values, according to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) guidelines.

All measurements were performed two days before and after the intervention. In addition, three-day dietary records (one weekend and two weekdays) were obtained pre- and post-intervention to assess diet changes.

The team excluded individuals with physical disabilities, joint ailments, and those consuming prescription supplements or medications or supplements that could impact adipose tissue and muscle metabolism.

Results

The team observed statistically significant differences in all measures across the study groups. The post hoc analysis indicated substantial discrepancies in body weight between the control and intervention groups.  The combined HIIT and spirulina administration significantly reduced TC, TGL, and LDL levels and elevated serum HDL-C.  Furthermore, all interventions reduced adipokine levels.

The combined intervention significantly improved adipocytokines, metabolic and anthropometric markers, and reduced fat-adipose tissue (FAT) compared to HIIT alone. TSG did not produce more profound changes in inflammatory markers than TG and SG.

The combination of HIIT and Spirulina provided additional clinical benefits. Similar alterations in adipocytokines may be due to the influence of adiposity status on inflammatory status in obesity.

Spirulina has glycemic effects, slowing glucose uptake from the stomach due to its fibers and antioxidant qualities. It improves insulin sensitivity by facilitating protein kinase B (Akt) and AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) signaling.

The hypocholesterolemic impact of spirulina is due to linolenic acid, which reduces hepatic fat buildup. It also includes phycocyanin, which lowers cholesterol absorption in the intestines while increasing lipoprotein lipase (LPL), an enzyme associated with LDL breakdown. Spirulina and HIIT have synergistic benefits on blood lipids and glycemic function.

Conclusion

Overall, the study findings showed that combining six grams daily of spirulina supplements with HIIT for 12 weeks promoted cardiometabolic health by lowering adipokine levels, improving body weight and BMI, and improving lipid profiles. The combination reduced serum IL-6 and 8, semaphorin3c, MCP-1, LDL, TGL, TC, TNF-α, and CRP levels while increasing HDL and enhanced VO2peak while reducing BMI.

Further studies could include females and examine heart rate, blood pressure, fat percentage, and metabolic equivalents to improve the generalizability of the study findings.

Journal reference:
Pooja Toshniwal Paharia

Written by

Pooja Toshniwal Paharia

Dr. based clinical-radiological diagnosis and management of oral lesions and conditions and associated maxillofacial disorders.

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