Effects of pre-exercise ingestion of differing amounts of carbohydrate on subsequent metabolism and cycling performance


Studies on the effect of the pre-exercise ingestion of carbohydrate on metabolism and performance have produced conflicting results, perhaps because of differences in the designs of the studies. The purpose of the present study was to examine the effects of ingesting differing amounts of glucose pre-exercise on the glucose and insulin responses during exercise and on time-trial (TT) performance. Nine well-trained male cyclists completed four exercise trials separated by at least 3 days. At 45 min before the start of exercise subjects consumed 500 ml of a beverage containing either 0 g (PLAC), 25 g (LOW), 75 g (MED) or 200 g (HIGH) of glucose. The exercise trials consisted of 20 min of submaximal steady-state exercise (SS) at 65% of maximal power output immediately followed by a [mean (SEM)] 691 (12) kJ TT. Plasma insulin concentrations at the onset of exercise were significantly higher (P<0.05) in MED and HIGH compared with LOW and PLAC. Plasma glucose concentration fell rapidly (P<0.05) during SS exercise in all glucose trials, but remained steady in PLAC. No difference in plasma glucose concentration was observed between the glucose trials at any time. Hypoglycaemia (less than 3.5 mmol·l–1) was observed in six subjects during SS but only after ingesting glucose pre-exercise. However, there was no difference in TT performance between the four trials. The ingestion of 0, 25, 75 or 200 g of glucose 45 min before a 20 min submaximal exercise bout did not affect subsequent TT performance. In addition, mild rebound hypoglycaemia following pre-exercise glucose ingestion did not negatively affect performance.

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Jentjens, .R., Cale, .C., Gutch, .C. et al. Effects of pre-exercise ingestion of differing amounts of carbohydrate on subsequent metabolism and cycling performance. Eur J Appl Physiol 88, 444–452 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-002-0727-9

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  • Hypoglycaemia Glucose ingestion Cyclists Insulin responses Time-trial performance