Should Carbohydrate Concentration of a Sports Drink Be Less Than 8% During Exercise in the Heat?

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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Our purpose was to determine if sports drinks with 6 and 8% CHO differentially affect physiological responses or run performance in the heat. Ten men ran 32 km while ingesting: placebo (P), 6% carbohydrate-electrolyte (CE6), and 8% carbohydrate-electrolyte (CE8). At 15 km, a 250 mL drink labeled with deuterium oxide (D2O) was ingested. Blood glucose and respiratory exchange ratio were significantly higher (P < 0.05) for CE6 and CE8 compared to P. Rectal temperature (Tre) at 32 km was higher for CE8 (40.1 ± 0.2 °C) compared to P (39.5 ± 0.2 °C) but similar to CE6 (39.8 ± 0.2 °C). D2O accumulation was not different among drink trials. Run performance was 8% faster for CE8 (1062 ± 31 s) compared to P (1154 ± 56 s) and similar to CE6 (1078 ± 33 s). Confirming the ACSM Position Stand, 8% CE are acceptable during exercise in the heat and attenuate the decline in performance.

The authors are with the Exercise Physiology Laboratory, School of Applied Physiology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332-0356.