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Exogenous Carbohydrate Spares Muscle Glycogen in Men and Women during 10 h of Exercise


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: December 2007 - Volume 39 - Issue 12 - p 2171-2179
doi: 10.1249/mss.0b013e318157a650
BASIC SCIENCES: Original Investigations

Purpose: The purpose of the study was to evaluate the effects of carbohydrate (CHO) supplementation on whole-body and net muscle substrate use during 10 h of discontinuous exercise, simulating occupational settings in men and women.

Methodology: Recreationally trained subjects (N = 7 males, N = 6 females) performed a graded exercise test on a treadmill (TM) and cycle ergometer (CE) to determine ventilatory threshold (VT) and V˙O2peak. In a double-blind, randomized crossover design, subjects received either CHO [20% maltodextrin (0.6 g·kg−1 FFM·h−1)] or flavored placebo (PLA) drink each hour across 10 h of exercise. Exercise intensity was 71.3 ± 3% and 72.4 ± 4% VT for TM and CE, respectively. Hourly exercise included 9 min of upper-body ergometery, 19 min of cycling, and 20 min of treadmill walking, with a 1-min transition between modes, followed by a 10-min rest and feeding period. The protocol was selected to simulate arduous occupational settings. Vastus lateralis biopsies were obtained before and after exercise. Expired gases were collected every other hour to establish average rates of whole-body CHO and fat oxidation. Blood glucose (BG) was measured continuously.

Results: Whole-body CHO oxidation was maintained during CHO trial compared with the PLA trial. Net muscle glycogen use was 52% higher for the PLA trial (176.0 ± 16.7, 117.0 ± 20.9 and 164.5 ± 11.0, 133.8 ± 10.9 mmol·kg−1 w.w. for PLA and CHO, respectively, P < 0.05). There were no significant sex-specific differences in glycogen use, whole-body substrate oxidation, or BG values.

Conclusion: The ingestion of CHO during long-duration exercise decreases net muscle glycogen use while better maintaining whole-body carbohydrate oxidation, and potentially increasing performance in field settings. There are limited differences in sex-specific substrate oxidation.

Human Performance Laboratory, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT

Address for correspondence: Brent C. Ruby, Ph.D., Director, Montana Center for Work Physiology and Exercise Metabolism (Montana, WPEM), Department of Health and Human Performance, The University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812-1825; E-mail:

Submitted for publication March 2007.

Accepted for publication August 2007.

©2007The American College of Sports Medicine