Simple and complex carbohydrate-rich diets and muscle glycogen content of marathon runners

  • K. M. Roberts
  • E. G. Noble
  • D. B. Hayden
  • A. W. Taylor


The effects of simple-carbohydrate (CHO)- and complex-CHO-rich diets on skeletal muscle glycogen content were compared. Twenty male marathon runners were divided into four equal groups with reference to dietary consumption: depletion/simple, depletion/complex, non-depletion/simple, and nondepletion/complex. Subjects consumed either a low-CHO (15% energy [E] intake), or a mixed diet (50% CHO) for 3 days, immediately followed by a high-CHO diet (70% E intake) predominant in either simple-CHO or in complex-CHO (85% of total CHO intake) for another 3 days. Skeletal muscle biopsies and venous blood samples were obtained one day prior to the start of the low-CHO diet or mixed diet (PRE), and then again one day after the completion of the high-CHO diet (POST). The samples were analysed for skeletal muscle glycogen, serum free fatty acids (FFA), insulin, and lactate and blood glucose. Skeletal muscle glycogen content increased significantly (p<0.05) only in the nondepletion/simple group. When groups were combined, according to the type of CHO ingested and/or utilization of a depletion diet, significant increases were observed in glycogen content. Serum FFA decreased significantly (p<0.05) for the nondepletion/complex group only, while serum insulin, blood glucose, and serum lactate were not altered. It is concluded that significant increases in skeletal muscle glycogen content can be achieved with a diet high in simple-CHO or complex-CHO, with or without initial consumption of a low-CHO diet.

Key words

Energy metabolism Carbohydrate-rich diet Glycogen Low-carbohydrate diet 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. M. Roberts
    • 1
  • E. G. Noble
    • 1
  • D. B. Hayden
    • 1
  • A. W. Taylor
    • 1
  1. 1.The Faculties of Physical Education, Medicine, and ScienceThe University of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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