Update on Carbohydrate: Solid versus Liquid

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Ellen Coleman
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Athletes often train or compete in athletic events that significantly reduce muscle and liver glycogen reserves. Carbohydrate ingestion before or during endurance exercise enhances performance by maintaining blood glucose levels and carbohydrate utilization. Also, an adequate intake of carbohydrate following endurance exercise helps to restore muscle and liver glycogen. This paper reviews the physiologic and performance benefits of solid versus liquid carbohydrate feedings before, during, and following endurance exercise. Solid and liquid carbohydrates are equally effective in raising blood glucose and enhancing performance when consumed during endurance exercise. Also, both forms of carbohydrate are similarly beneficial in promoting muscle glycogen synthesis after exercise. It is unclear whether solid and liquid carbohydrate feedings have the same effect on serum glucose and performance when consumed before exercise. Although limited research suggests that a low glycemic solid carbohydrate may represent the best preexercise meal choice, further research is needed to support this hypothesis.

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