The Effects of Low– and High–Glycemic Index Meals on Time Trial Performance

in International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance
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The aim of this work was to determine whether the consumption of pre-exercise high– or low–glycemic index (GI) meals has a beneficial effect on time trial performance.


Eight male cyclists were provided with either a high-GI or low-GI meal, providing 1 g·kg−1 body mass of carbohydrate, 45 min before performing a 40-km time trial on a Velotron cyclePro.


Time trial performance was significantly improved in the low-GI trial (92.5 ± 5.2 min) compared with the high-GI trial (95.6 ± 6.0 min) (P = .009). Blood glucose concentrations at the point of exhaustion were significantly higher in the low-GI trial (5.2± 0.6 mmol·L−1) compared with the high-GI trial (4.7 ± 0.7 mmol·L−1) (P = .001). There was no significant difference in estimated carbohydrate oxidation data between the low-GI (2.51 ± 1.74 g·min−1) and high-GI (2.18 ± 1.53 g·min−1) meals (P = .195). No significant difference in estimated fat oxidation was observed between the low-GI (0.15 ± 0.15 g·min−1) and high-GI (0.29 ± 0.18 g·min−1) diets (P = .83).


The improvement in time trial performance for the low-GI trial may be associated with an increased availability of glucose to the working muscles, contributing additional carbohydrate for oxidation and possibly sparing limited muscle and liver glycogen stores.

The authors are with the Department of Sport, Health, and Exercise Science, University of Hull, Hull, East Yorkshire, U.K.