Objective: Isoflavones and exercise have been shown to affect C-reactive protein (CRP) and body composition and to act synergistically on trunk and total fat mass (FM), glucose metabolism, and lean body mass in postmenopausal women with a body mass index higher than 25 kg/m2. We hypothesized that exercise and isoflavone supplementation (Ex + ISO) could reduce inflammation in the same subpopulation of women. The objective of this study was to investigate if 6 months of mixed exercise combined with isoflavones could have greater effects on specific inflammatory markers than exercise alone in overweight or obese postmenopausal women.
Methods: Thirty-four postmenopausal women aged 50 to 70 years were randomly assigned to exercise and placebo (Ex + PLA; n = 15) or Ex + ISO (n = 19). At baseline and after 6 months, waist circumference, hip circumference, total FM, trunk FM, leg FM, and muscle mass index (MMI; = total fat free mass [kg] / height2 [m]) were assessed (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry). Inflammatory markers (CRP, tumor necrosis factor-α [TNF-α], and interleukin-6) were obtained by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. T tests were used to compare groups at baseline.
Results: The Ex + PLA group showed significant changes in MMI (+0.33 kg/m2, P ≤ 0.009) and FM compartments (waist circumference, −5.13 cm; % FM, −1.31%; P ≤ 0.001), whereas inflammation remained unchanged. However, the Ex + ISO group showed significant changes in total FM (−1.70 kg, P < 0.0001), FM compartments (hip circumference [−2.51 cm, P = 0.019], leg FM [−1.16 kg, P = 0.037], and trunk FM [−0.72 kg, P = 0.006]), MMI (+0.39 kg, P = 0.011), and inflammation (CRP, −1.14 mg/L, P = 0.029; TNF-α, +0.29 pg/mL, P = 0.010).
Conclusions: Despite an increase in TNF-α, the use of isoflavones—when body weight remains stable—seems to enhance the beneficial effects of mixed-exercise training on body composition and CRP in overweight or obese postmenopausal women.