Isotopic tracers can reveal insights into the temporal nature of metabolism and track the fate of ingested substrates. A common use of tracers is to assess aspects of human carbohydrate metabolism during exercise under various established models. The dilution model is used alongside intravenous infusion of tracers to assess carbohydrate appearance and disappearance rates in the circulation, which can be further delineated into exogenous and endogenous sources. The incorporation model can be used to estimate exogenous carbohydrate oxidation rates. Combining methods can provide insight into key factors regulating health and performance, such as muscle and liver glycogen utilization, and the underlying regulation of blood glucose homeostasis before, during, and after exercise. Obtaining accurate, quantifiable data from tracers, however, requires careful consideration of key methodological principles. These include appropriate standardization of pretrial diet, specific tracer choice, whether a background trial is necessary to correct expired breath CO2 enrichments, and if so, what the appropriate background trial should consist of. Researchers must also consider the intensity and pattern of exercise, and the type, amount, and frequency of feeding (if any). The rationale for these considerations is discussed, along with an experimental design checklist and equation list which aims to assist researchers in performing high-quality research on carbohydrate metabolism during exercise using isotopic tracer methods.
For Flux Sake: Isotopic Tracer Methods of Monitoring Human Carbohydrate Metabolism During Exercise
Javier T. Gonzalez and Andy J. King
Carbohydrate Hydrogel Products Do Not Improve Performance or Gastrointestinal Distress During Moderate-Intensity Endurance Exercise
Andy J. King, Joshua T. Rowe, and Louise M. Burke
The benefits of ingesting exogenous carbohydrate (CHO) during prolonged exercise performance are well established. A recent food technology innovation has seen sodium alginate and pectin included in solutions of multiple transportable CHO, to encapsulate them at pH levels found in the stomach. Marketing claims include enhanced gastric emptying and delivery of CHO to the muscle with less gastrointestinal distress, leading to better sports performance. Emerging literature around such claims was identified by searching electronic databases; inclusion criteria were randomized controlled trials investigating metabolic and/or exercise performance parameters during endurance exercise >1 hr, with CHO hydrogels versus traditional CHO fluids and/or noncaloric hydrogels. Limitations associated with the heterogeneity of exercise protocols and control comparisons are noted. To date, improvements in exercise performance/capacity have not been clearly demonstrated with ingestion of CHO hydrogels above traditional CHO fluids. Studies utilizing isotopic tracers demonstrate similar rates of exogenous CHO oxidation, and subjective ratings of gastrointestinal distress do not appear to be different. Overall, data do not support any metabolic or performance advantages to exogenous CHO delivery in hydrogel form over traditional CHO preparations; although, one study demonstrates a possible glycogen sparing effect. The authors note that the current literature has largely failed to investigate the conditions under which maximal CHO availability is needed; high-performance athletes undertaking prolonged events at high relative and absolute exercise intensities. Although investigations are needed to better target the testimonials provided about CHO hydrogels, current evidence suggests that they are similar in outcome and a benefit to traditional CHO sources.