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Jonathan P. Little, Philip D. Chilibeck, Dawn Ciona, Scott Forbes, Huw Rees, Albert Vandenberg and Gordon A. Zello

Consuming carbohydrate-rich meals before continuous endurance exercise improves performance, yet few studies have evaluated the ideal preexercise meal for high-intensity intermittent exercise, which is characteristic of many team sports. The authors’ purpose was to investigate the effects of low- and high-glycemic-index (GI) meals on metabolism and performance during high-intensity, intermittent exercise. Sixteen male participants completed three 90-min high-intensity intermittent running trials in a single-blinded random order, separated by ~7 d, while fasted (control) and 2 hr after ingesting an isoenergetic low-GI (lentil), or high-GI (potato and egg white) preexercise meal. Serum free fatty acids were higher and insulin lower throughout exercise in the fasted condition (p < .05), but there were no differences in blood glucose during exercise between conditions. Distance covered on a repeated-sprint test at the end of exercise was significantly greater in the low-GI and high-GI conditions than in the control (p < .05). Rating of perceived exertion was lower in the low-GI condition than in the control (p = .01). In a subsample of 5 participants, muscle glycogen availability was greater in the low- and high-GI conditions versus fasted control before the repeated-sprint test (p < .05), with no differences between low and high GI. When exogenous carbohydrates are not provided during exercise both low- and high-GI preexercise meals improve high-intensity, intermittent exercise performance, probably by increasing the availability of muscle glycogen. However, the GI does not influence markers of substrate oxidation during high-intensity, intermittent exercise.