Copyright © 2019 the American Physiological Society. Insulin resistance has wide-ranging effects on metabolism, but there are knowledge gaps regarding the tissue origins of systemic metabolite patterns and how patterns are altered by fitness and metabolic health. To address these questions, plasma metabolite patterns were determined every 5 min during exercise (30 min, ∼45% of VO2peak, ∼63 W) and recovery in overnight-fasted sedentary, obese, insulin-resistant women under controlled conditions of diet and physical activity. We hypothesized that improved fitness and insulin sensitivity following a ∼14-wk training and weight loss intervention would lead to fixed workload plasma metabolomics signatures reflective of metabolic health and muscle metabolism. Pattern analysis over the first 15 min of exercise, regardless of pre- versus postintervention status, highlighted anticipated increases in fatty acid tissue uptake and oxidation (e.g., reduced long-chain fatty acids), diminution of nonoxidative fates of glucose [e.g., lowered sorbitol-pathway metabolites and glycerol-3-galactoside (possible glycerolipid synthesis metabolite)], and enhanced tissue amino acid use (e.g., drops in amino acids; modest increase in urea). A novel observation was that exercise significantly increased several xenometabolites ("non-self" molecules, from microbes or foods), including benzoic acid-salicylic acid-salicylaldehyde, hexadecanol-octadecanol-dodecanol, and chlorogenic acid. In addition, many nonannotated metabolites changed with exercise. Although exercise itself strongly impacted the global metabolome, there were surprisingly few intervention-associated differences despite marked improvements in insulin sensitivity, fitness, and adiposity. These results and previously reported plasma acylcarnitine profiles support the principle that most metabolic changes during submaximal aerobic exercise are closely tethered to absolute ATP turnover rate (workload), regardless of fitness or metabolic health status.