Effect of carbohydrate ingestion on exercise performance and carbohydrate metabolism in persons with spinal cord injury

  • John Temesi
  • Kieron Rooney
  • Jacqui Raymond
  • Helen O’Connor
Original Article


Carbohydrate ingestion during exercise and as a pre-exercise bolus improves exercise performance in able-bodied athletes. Little is known about the potential for carbohydrate ingestion to improve exercise performance in athletes with spinal cord injury (SCI), nor the potential physiological limitations of such a practice resulting from an SCI. Therefore, this study investigated the effects of carbohydrate ingestion on exercise performance in physically active and athletic persons with SCI. Six participants with complete SCI (neurological level of lesion ranging from C6 to T7) and normal glucose tolerance were studied twice during 60 min of arm cranking at 65% of peak oxygen consumption followed by a 20-min time trial with the ingestion of either a carbohydrate drink (CHO trial: 0.5 g CHO kg−1 body weight in 500 ml) or placebo (PLA trial) applied in a double-blind counter-balanced manner. The participants with tetraplegia had sufficient neurological function to permit voluntary arm-cranking exercise. There was no difference in time-trial performance between CHO and PLA trials (P > 0.05). The results suggest that carbohydrate ingestion in persons with SCI does not improve exercise performance.


Spinal cord injury Exercise Blood glucose Carbohydrate ingestion Insulin Catecholamines 



We gratefully appreciate the technical assistance provided by Dr Pat Ruell and Ray Patton, and thank all of our subjects for their time and support. Ethical standards: this study was approved by the Human Research Ethics Committee at the University of Sydney and was carried out in accordance with the Australian laws. Participants were also informed of the nature and risks associated with all procedures before giving written informed consent.

Supplementary material

421_2009_1185_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (23 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 23 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Temesi
    • 1
  • Kieron Rooney
    • 1
  • Jacqui Raymond
    • 1
  • Helen O’Connor
    • 1
  1. 1.Discipline of Exercise and Sports Science, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of SydneyLidcombeAustralia

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