The effects of employing a high-carbohydrate diet (carbohydrate-loading) to increase glycogen storage in skeletal muscle are not well established in female athletes. On 4 occasions—2 familiarization trials and 2 experimental trials—6 well-trained female subjects completed 6 × 15-min continuous intervals of cycling (12 min at 72% V̇O2max, 1 min at maximal effort, and 2 min at 50% V̇O2max), followed by a time trial 15 min later. The women consumed their habitual diets (HD; 6–7 g carbohydrate/kg lean body mass) for 3 days after the second familiarization trial and before the first experimental trial. During the 3 days following the first experimental trial, the subjects consumed a high-carbohydrate diet (CD; 9–10 g carbohydrate/kg lean body mass) prior to the second experimental trial. Mean (±SEM) pre-exercise muscle glycogen concentrations were greater after CD versus HD (171.9 ± 8.7 vs. 131.4 ± 10.3 mmol/kg wet weight, P < 0.003). Although 4 of the 6 subjects improved their time-trial performance after CD, mean performance for the time trial was not significantly different between diets (HD: 763.9 ± 35.6 s; CD: 752.9 ± 30.1 s). Thus, female cyclists can increase their muscle glycogen stores after a carbohydrate-loading diet during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, but we found no compelling evidence of a dietary effect on performance of a cycling time trial performed after 90 min of moderate-intensity exercise.
D.R. Paul is with the Diet and Human Performance Laboratory at the Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center, ARS, USDA, Beltsville, MD 20705. S.M. Mulroy, J.A. Horner, K.A. Jacobs, and D.R. Lamb are with The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.