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Energy metabolism of medium-chain triglycerides versus carbohydrates during exercise

Summary

Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are known to be rapidly digested and oxidized. Their potential value as a source of dietary energy during exercise was compared with that of maltodextrins (MD). Twelve subjects exercised for 1 h on a bicycle ergometer (60% \(\dot V\)O2 max), 1 h after the test meal (1MJ). The metabolism of MCT was followed using 1-13C-octanoate (Oc) as tracer and U-13C-glucose (G) was added to the 13C-naturally enriched MD.

After MCT ingestion no insulin peak was observed with some accumulation of ketone bodies (KB), blood levels not exceeding 1 mM. Total losses of KB during exercise in urine, sweat and as breath acetone were small (<0.2 mmol·h−1). Hence, the influence of KB loss and storage on gas exchange data was negligible.

The partition of fat and carbohydrate utilization during exercise as obtained by indirect calorimetry was practically the same after the MCT and the CHO meals. Oxidation over the 2-h period was 30% of dose for Oc and 45% for G. Glycogen decrements in the Vastus lateralis muscle were equal. It appears that with normal carbohydrate stores, a single meal of MCT or CHO did not alter the contribution of carbohydrates during 1 h of high submaximal exercise. The moderate ketonemia after MCT, despite substantial oxidation of this fat, led to no difference in muscle glycogen sparing between the diets.

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Décombaz, J., Arnaud, M.J., Milon, H. et al. Energy metabolism of medium-chain triglycerides versus carbohydrates during exercise. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 52, 9–14 (1983). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00429018

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Key words

  • Muscle glycogen
  • 1-13C-octanoate
  • U-13C-glucose
  • Ketones
  • Respiratory exchange ratio