Enhanced endurance in trained cyclists during moderate intensity exercise following 2 weeks adaptation to a high fat diet

  • Estelle V. Lambert
  • David P. Speechly
  • Steven C. Dennis
  • Timothy D. Noakes
Original Articles


These studies investigated the effects of 2 weeks of either a high-fat (HIGH-FAT: 70% fat, 7% CHO) or a high-carbohydrate (HIGH-CHO: 74% CHO, 12% fat) diet on exercise performance in trained cyclists (n = 5) during consecutive periods of cycle exercise including a Wingate test of muscle power, cycle exercise to exhaustion at 85% of peak power output [90% maximal oxygen uptake (\(\dot V\)O2max), high-intensity exercise (HIE)] and 50% of peak power output [60% \(\dot V\)O2max, moderate intensity exercise (MIE)]. Exercise time to exhaustion during HIE was not significantly different between trials: nor were the rates of muscle glycogen utilization during HIE different between trials, although starting muscle glycogen content was lower [68.1 (SEM 3.9) vs 120.6 (SEM 3.8) mmol · kg −1 wet mass, P < 0.01] after the HIGH-FAT diet. Despite a lower muscle glycogen content at the onset of MIE [32 (SEM 7) vs 73 (SEM 6) mmol · kg −1 wet mass, HIGH-FAT vs HIGH-CHO, P < 0.01], exercise time to exhaustion during subsequent MIE was significantly longer after the HIGH-FAT diet [79.7 (SEM 7.6) vs 42.5 (SEM 6.8) min, HIGH-FAT vs HIGH-CHO, P<0.01]. Enhanced endurance during MIE after the HIGH-FAT diet was associated with a lower respiratory exchange ratio [0.87 (SEM 0.03) vs 0.92 (SEM 0.02), P<0.05], and a decreased rate of carbohydrate oxidation [1.41 (SEM 0.70) vs 2.23 (SEM 0.40) g CHO · min−1, P<0.05]. These results would suggest that 2 weeks of adaptation to a high-fat diet would result in an enhanced resistance to fatigue and a significant sparing of endogenous carbohydrate during low to moderate intensity exercise in a relatively glycogen-depleted state and unimpaired performance during high intensity exercise.

Key words

High-fat diet Carbohydrate Fat metabolism Exercise performance Fatigue 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Estelle V. Lambert
    • 1
  • David P. Speechly
    • 1
  • Steven C. Dennis
    • 1
  • Timothy D. Noakes
    • 1
  1. 1.Liberty Life Chair of Exercise and Sports Science, MRC/UCT Bioenergetics of Exercise Research Unit, Department of PhysiologyUniversity of Cape Town Medical SchoolCape TownSouth Africa

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