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Is There a Specific Role for Sucrose in Sports and Exercise Performance?

Gareth A. Wallis and Anna Wittekind

The consumption of carbohydrate before, during, and after exercise is a central feature of the athlete’s diet, particularly those competing in endurance sports. Sucrose is a carbohydrate present within the diets of athletes. Whether sucrose, by virtue of its component monosaccharides glucose and fructose, exerts a meaningful advantage for athletes over other carbohydrate types or blends is unclear. This narrative reviews the literature on the influence of sucrose, relative to other carbohydrate types, on exercise performance or the metabolic factors that may underpin exercise performance. Inference from the research to date suggests that sucrose appears to be as effective as other highly metabolizable carbohydrates (e.g., glucose, glucose polymers) in providing an exogenous fuel source during endurance exercise, stimulating the synthesis of liver and muscle glycogen during exercise recovery and improving endurance exercise performance. Nonetheless, gaps exist in our understanding of the metabolic and performance consequences of sucrose ingestion before, during, and after exercise relative to other carbohydrate types or blends, particularly when more aggressive carbohydrate intake strategies are adopted. While further research is recommended and discussed in this review, based on the currently available scientific literature it would seem that sucrose should continue to be regarded as one of a variety of options available to help athletes achieve their specific carbohydrate-intake goals.

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Co-Ingestion of Branched-Chain Amino Acids and Carbohydrate Stimulates Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis Following Resistance Exercise in Trained Young Men

Sarah R. Jackman, Gareth A. Wallis, Jinglei Yu, Andrew Philp, Keith Baar, Kevin D. Tipton, and Oliver C. Witard

Branched-chain amino acids (BCAA) and carbohydrate (CHO) are commonly recommended postexercise supplements. However, no study has examined the interaction of CHO and BCAA ingestion on myofibrillar protein synthesis (MyoPS) rates following exercise. We aimed to determine the response of MyoPS to the co-ingestion of BCAA and CHO following an acute bout of resistance exercise. Ten resistance-trained young men completed two trials in counterbalanced order, ingesting isocaloric drinks containing either 30.6-g CHO plus 5.6-g BCAA (B + C) or 34.7-g CHO alone following a bout of unilateral, leg resistance exercise. MyoPS was measured postexercise with a primed, constant infusion of L-[ring13C6] phenylalanine and collection of muscle biopsies pre- and 4 hr postdrink ingestion. Blood samples were collected at time points before and after drink ingestion. Serum insulin concentrations increased to a similar extent in both trials (p > .05), peaking at 30 min postdrink ingestion. Plasma leucine (514 ± 34 nmol/L), isoleucine (282 ± 23 nmol/L), and valine (687 ± 33 nmol/L) concentrations peaked at 0.5 hr postdrink in B + C and remained elevated for 3 hr during exercise recovery. MyoPS was ∼15% greater (95% confidence interval [−0.002, 0.028], p = .039, Cohen’s d = 0.63) in B + C (0.128%/hr ± 0.011%/hr) than CHO alone (0.115%/hr ± 0.011%/hr) over the 4 hr postexercise period. Co-ingestion of BCAA and CHO augments the acute response of MyoPS to resistance exercise in trained young males.

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Daily Myofibrillar Protein Synthesis Rates in Response to Low- and High-Frequency Resistance Exercise Training in Healthy, Young Men

Brandon J. Shad, Janice L. Thompson, James Mckendry, Andrew M. Holwerda, Yasir S. Elhassan, Leigh Breen, Luc J.C. van Loon, and Gareth A. Wallis

The impact of resistance exercise frequency on muscle protein synthesis rates remains unknown. The aim of this study was to compare daily myofibrillar protein synthesis rates over a 7-day period of low-frequency (LF) versus high-frequency (HF) resistance exercise training. Nine young men (21 ± 2 years) completed a 7-day period of habitual physical activity (BASAL). This was followed by a 7-day exercise period of volume-matched, LF (10 × 10 repetitions at 70% one-repetition maximum, once per week) or HF (2 × 10 repetitions at ∼70% one-repetition maximum, five times per week) resistance exercise training. The participants had one leg randomly allocated to LF and the other to HF. Skeletal muscle biopsies and daily saliva samples were collected to determine myofibrillar protein synthesis rates using 2H2O, with intracellular signaling determined using Western blotting. The myofibrillar protein synthesis rates did not differ between the LF (1.46 ± 0.26%/day) and HF (1.48 ± 0.33%/day) conditions over the 7-day exercise training period (p > .05). There were no significant differences between the LF and HF conditions over the first 2 days (1.45 ± 0.41%/day vs. 1.25 ± 0.46%/day) or last 5 days (1.47 ± 0.30%/day vs. 1.50 ± 0.41%/day) of the exercise training period (p > .05). Daily myofibrillar protein synthesis rates were not different from BASAL at any time point during LF or HF (p > .05). The phosphorylation status and total protein content of selected proteins implicated in skeletal muscle ribosomal biogenesis were not different between conditions (p > .05). Under the conditions of the present study, resistance exercise training frequency did not modulate daily myofibrillar protein synthesis rates in young men.