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Fuel metabolism during ultra-endurance exercise


 Cyclists either ingested 300 ml 100 g/l U-[14C] glucose solution every 30 min during 6 h rides at 55% of VO2max (n=6) or they consumed unlabelled glucose and were infused with U-[14C] lactate (n=5). Maintenance of euglycaemia limited rises in circulating free fatty acids, noradrenaline and adrenaline concentrations to 0.9±0.1 mM, 27±4 nM and 2.0±0.5 nM, respectively, and sustained the oxidation of glucose and lactate. As muscle glycogen oxidation declined from 100±13 to 71±9 μmol/min/kg in the last 3 h of exercise, glucose and lactate oxidation and interconversion rates remained at approximately 60 and 50 and at about 4 and 5 μmol/min/kg, respectively. Continued high rates of carbohydrate oxidation led to a total oxidation of around 270 g glucose, 130 g plasma lactate and 530 g muscle glycogen. Oxidation of some 530 g of muscle glycogen far exceeded the predicted (about 250 g) initial glycogen content of the active muscles and suggested that there must have been a considerable diffusion of unlabelled lactate from glycogen breakdown in inactive muscle fibres to adjacent active muscle fibres via the interstitial fluid that did not equilibrate with 14C lactate in the circulation.

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Received: 19 September 1997 / Received after revision: 15 December 1997 / Accepted: 22 January 1998

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Rauch, H., Hawley, J., Noakes, T. et al. Fuel metabolism during ultra-endurance exercise. Pflügers Arch 436, 211–219 (1998).

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  • Key words Glucose and lactate oxidation and interconversion
  • Carbohydrate utilisation
  • Fat oxidation