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Effects of Carbohydrate Loading and Weight-lifting on Muscle Girth

Thomas W. Balon, Jeffrey F. Horowitz, and Karen M. Fitzsimmons

Bodybuilders have used different carbohydrate loading regimens in conjunction with resistance exercise prior to competition in the belief that this would result in increased muscle size. To investigate this possibility, muscle girth measurements were obtained from nine weight-trained males before and after a control (standard isocaloric diet) and an experimental trial (carbohydrate loading). The latter regimen consisted of 3 days of intense weight-lifting while the subjects ingested a diet of 10% carbohydrate (CHO), 57% fat (F), and 33% protein (P), followed by 3 days of light weight-lifting and a day of rest while ingesting a diet of 80% CHO, 5% F, and 15% P. The control trial consisted of an identical weight-lifting regimen while subjects ingested an isocaloric (45 kcal/kg BWIday) diet. Body weight and girths (forearm, upper arm, chest, thigh, waist, and calf) were obtained before and after each trial in a relaxed and flexed state. The results indicated that an exercise/carbohydrate loading regimen had no significant effect on muscle girth as compared to the control trial. It is concluded that CHO loading has no additional advantage to enhancing muscle girth in bodybuilders over weight-lifting alone.

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Carbohydrate Loading and Female Endurance Athletes: Effect of Menstrual-Cycle Phase

Rebecca T. McLay, Christine D. Thomson, Sheila M. Williams, and Nancy J. Rehrer

This study compared 3 d of carbohydrate loading (CHOL; 8.4 g·kg−1·d−1 carbohydrate) in female eumenorrheic athletes with 3 d of an isoenergetic normal diet (NORM; 5.2 g·kg−1·d−1 carbohydrate) and examined the effect of menstrual-cycle phase on performance, muscle-glycogen concentration [glyc], and substrate utilization. Nine moderately trained eumenorrheic women cycled in an intermittent protocol varying in intensity from 45% to 75% VO2max for 75 min, followed by a 16-km time trial at the midfollicular (MF) and midluteal (ML) phases of the menstrual cycle on NORM and CHOL. Time-trial performance was not affected by diet (CHOL 26.10 ± 1.04 min, NORM 26.16 ± 1.35 min; P = 0.494) or menstrual-cycle phase (MF 26.05 ± 1.10 min, ML 26.23 ± 1.33 min; P = 0.370). Resting [glyc] was lowest in the MF phase after NORM (575 ± 145 mmol·kg−1·dw−1), compared with the MF phase after CHOL (728 mmol·kg−1·dw−1) and the ML phase after CHOL and NORM (756 and 771 mmol·kg−1·dw−1, respectively). No effect of phase on substrate utilization during exercise was observed. These data support previous observations of greater resting [glyc] in the ML than the MF phase of the menstrual cycle and suggest that lower glycogen storage in the MF phase can be overcome by carbohydrate loading.

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A Carbohydrate Loading Regimen Improves High Intensity, Short Duration Exercise Performance

Francis X. Pizza, Michael G. Flynn, Brian D. Duscha, Jill Holden, and Eugene R. Kubitz

This investigation examined the effect of a carbohydrate loading regimen on high intensity, short duration ran performance. Using a random crossover design, 8 trained runners completed a 15-min submaximal run and a performance run to exhaustion after two dietary treatments. The mixed diet (MD) contained 4.0 ± 0.5 g · kg 1 · d 1 of carbohydrate (CHO) for 6 days. The experimental diet (HCD) contained 4.5 ± 0.5 g CHO · kg 1 · d 1 for 3 days followed by 8.2 ± 0.4 g CHO · kg 1 · d 1 for 3 days. Training consisted of daily runs of 90, 40, 40, 20, and 20 min at approximately 75% of VO 2max . Day 6 was a rest day, and testing was completed on Day 7. Preexercise lactate, body weight, submaximal VO 2 , and heart rate did not differ significantly between treatments. Carbohydrate oxidation during submaximal running was higher (p < 0.05) after HCD than after MD. Time to exhaustion in the performance run was longer after HCD compared to MD. Results indicate that a carbohydrate loading regimen increases CHO oxidation during submaximal exercise and improves high intensity, short duration run performance.

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Carbohydrate-Loading during the Follicular Phase of the Menstrual Cycle: Effects on Muscle Glycogen and Exercise Performance

D.R. Paul, S.M. Mulroy, J.A. Horner, K.A. Jacobs, and D.R. Lamb

The effects of employing a high-carbohydrate diet (carbohydrate-loading) to increase glycogen storage in skeletal muscle are not well established in female athletes. On 4 occasions—2 familiarization trials and 2 experimental trials—6 well-trained female subjects completed 6 × 15-min continuous intervals of cycling (12 min at 72% V̇O2max, 1 min at maximal effort, and 2 min at 50% V̇O2max), followed by a time trial 15 min later. The women consumed their habitual diets (HD; 6–7 g carbohydrate/kg lean body mass) for 3 days after the second familiarization trial and before the first experimental trial. During the 3 days following the first experimental trial, the subjects consumed a high-carbohydrate diet (CD; 9–10 g carbohydrate/kg lean body mass) prior to the second experimental trial. Mean (±SEM) pre-exercise muscle glycogen concentrations were greater after CD versus HD (171.9 ± 8.7 vs. 131.4 ± 10.3 mmol/kg wet weight, P < 0.003). Although 4 of the 6 subjects improved their time-trial performance after CD, mean performance for the time trial was not significantly different between diets (HD: 763.9 ± 35.6 s; CD: 752.9 ± 30.1 s). Thus, female cyclists can increase their muscle glycogen stores after a carbohydrate-loading diet during the follicular phase of the menstrual cycle, but we found no compelling evidence of a dietary effect on performance of a cycling time trial performed after 90 min of moderate-intensity exercise.

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Nutritional Practices of Male Cyclists before and during an Ultraendurance Event

Lize Havemann and Julia H. Goedecke

The aim of the study was to investigate the pre- and during-race nutritional intake of cyclists competing in a 210-km 1-day ultraendurance cycle race. Forty-five endurancetrained male cyclists participated in this dietary survey and completed a 3-day dietary record. Mean reported carbohydrate (CHO) intake over the 3 days before the race (5.6 ± 1.7 g/kg) was below the recommended guidelines of 7–10 g/kg. Although 57% of participants indicated that they CHO loaded 1–3 days before the race, only 23% of these participants achieved CHO intakes of ≥7 g/kg over the 3-day period before the race, demonstrating a discrepancy between perceived and actual intakes of CHO. Most participants indicated the use of CHO supplements before (84%) and during (98%) the race and achieved a CHO intake of 63 ± 23 g/hr during the race. Although most cyclists failed to meet recommended prerace CHO intakes, most achieved the recommended CHO intakes during the race.

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The Effects of Carbohydrate Loading 48 Hours Before a Simulated Squash Match

Aaron Raman, Paul W. Macdermid, Toby Mündel, Michael Mann, and Stephen R. Stannard

The aim of this study was to ascertain whether a high carbohydrate diet in the days before movement patterns simulating a squash match would increase carbohydrate oxidation during the match, and alter physical performance. Nine New Zealand level squash players were recruited to complete a simulated squash match on two occasions: 1) following a 48-hr high carbohydrate (11.1g·kg−1); and 2) following a calorie-matched low carbohydrate (2.1 g·kg−1) diet. The interventions were assigned in a randomized, single-blind, cross-over design. The match simulation was designed to mimic a five-game match lasting approximately 1 hr. Performance was measured as time to complete each game. Expired respiratory gases and heart rate were continuously collected throughout the trial using a portable gas analysis system. Capillary blood glucose and lactate samples were obtained during a 90 s rest period between each game. Rating of perceived exertion was also recorded after each set. Respiratory exchange ratio was significantly higher during exercise following the high CHO diet (0.80 vs. 0.76) p < .001) and this was associated with significantly faster time to complete the games (2340 ± 189 s vs. 2416 ± 128 s, p = .036). Blood glucose and lactate concentrations were also significantly higher in the high carbohydrate condition (p = .038 and p = .021 respectively). These results suggest that ingestion of a diet high in carbohydrate (>10 g/kg body weight) preceding simulated competitive squash produces increased rates of carbohydrate oxidation and maintains higher blood glucose concentrations. These metabolic effects were associated with improved physical performance.

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The Effects of Carbohydrate Loading on Muscle Glycogen Content and Cycling Performance

Laurie H.G. Rauch, Ian Rodger, Gary R. Wilson, Judy D. Belonje, Steven C. Dennis, Timothy D. Noakes, and John A. Hawley

This study compared the effects of supplementing the normal diets of 8 endurance-trained cyclists with additional carbohydrate (CHO), in the form of potato starch, for 3 days on muscle glycogen utilization and performance during a 3-hr cycle ride. On two occasions prior to the trial, the subjects ingested in random order either their normal CHO intake of 6.15 ± 0.23 g/kg body mass/day or a high-CHO diet of 10.52 ± 0.57 g/kg body mass/day. The trial consisted of 2 hr of cycling at ~75% of VO 2 peak with five 60-s sprints at 100% VO 2 peak at 20-min intervals, followed by a 60-min performance ride. Increasing CHO intake by 72 ± 9% for 3 days prior to the trial elevated preexercise muscle glycogen contents, improved power output, and extended the distance covered in 1 hr. Muscle glycogen contents were similar at the end of the 3-hr trial, indicating a greater utilization of glycogen when subjects were CHO loaded, which may have been responsible for their improved cycling performance.

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Muscle Glycogen Utilization During an Australian Rules Football Game

Harry E. Routledge, Jill J. Leckey, Matt J. Lee, Andrew Garnham, Stuart Graham, Darren Burgess, Louise M. Burke, Robert M. Erskine, Graeme L. Close, and James P. Morton

Purpose: To better understand the carbohydrate (CHO) requirement of Australian Football (AF) match play by quantifying muscle glycogen utilization during an in-season AF match. Methods: After a 24-h CHO-loading protocol of 8 and 2 g/kg in the prematch meal, 2 elite male forward players had biopsies sampled from m. vastus lateralis before and after participation in a South Australian Football League game. Player A (87.2 kg) consumed water only during match play, whereas player B (87.6 kg) consumed 88 g CHO via CHO gels. External load was quantified using global positioning system technology. Results: Player A completed more minutes on the ground (115 vs 98 min) and covered greater total distance (12.2 vs 11.2 km) than player B, although with similar high-speed running (837 vs 1070 m) and sprinting (135 vs 138 m). Muscle glycogen decreased by 66% in player A (pre: 656 mmol/kg dry weight [dw], post: 223 mmol/kg dw) and 24% in player B (pre: 544 mmol/kg dw, post: 416 mmol/kg dw). Conclusion: Prematch CHO loading elevated muscle glycogen concentrations (ie, >500 mmol/kg dw), the magnitude of which appears sufficient to meet the metabolic demands of elite AF match play. The glycogen cost of AF match play may be greater than in soccer and rugby, and CHO feeding may also spare muscle glycogen use. Further studies using larger sample sizes are now required to quantify the interindividual variability of glycogen cost of match play (including muscle and fiber-type-specific responses), as well examining potential metabolic and ergogenic effects of CHO feeding.

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High-Fat Diet versus Habitual Diet Prior to Carbohydrate Loading: Effects on Exercise Metabolism and Cycling Performance

Estelle V. Lambert, Julia H. Goedecke, Charl van Zyl, Kim Murphy, John A. Hawley, Steven C. Dennis, and Timothy D. Noakes

We examined the effects of a high-fat diet (HFD-CHO) versus a habitual diet, prior to carbohydrate (CHO)-loading on fuel metabolism and cycling time-trial (TT) performance. Five endurance-trained cyclists participated in two 14-day randomized cross-over trials during which subjects consumed either a HFD (>65% MJ from fat) or their habitual diet (CTL) (30 ± 5% MJ from fat) for 10 day, before ingesting a high-CHO diet (CHO-loading, CHO > 70% MJ) for 3 days. Trials consisted of a 150-min cycle at 70% of peak oxygen uptake (V̇O2peak), followed immediately by a 20-km TT. One hour before each trial, cyclists ingested 400 ml of a 3.44% medium-chain triacylglycerol (MCT) solution, and during the trial, ingested 600 ml/hour of a 10% 14C-glucose + 3.44% MCT solution. The dietary treatments did not alter the subjects’ weight, body fat, or lipid profile. There were also no changes in circulating glucose, lactate, free fatty acid (FFA), and β-hydroxybutyrate concentrations during exercise. However, mean serum glycerol concentrations were significantly higher (p < .01) in the HFD-CHO trial. The HFD-CHO diet increased total fat oxidation and reduced total CHO oxidation but did not alter plasma glucose oxidation during exercise. By contrast, the estimated rates of muscle glycogen and lactate oxidation were lower after the HFD-CHO diet. The HFD-CHO treatment was also associated with improved TT times (29.5 ± 2.9 min vs. 30.9 ± 3.4 min for HFD-CHO and CTL-CHO, p < .05). High-fat feeding for 10 days prior to CHO-loading was associated with an increased reliance on fat, a decreased reliance on muscle glycogen, and improved time trial performance after prolonged exercise.

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Diet and Muscle Glycogen Concentration in Relation to Physical Performance in Swedish Elite Ice Hockey Players

Christian Åkermark, Ira Jacobs, Margareta Rasmusson, and Jan Karlsson

The effects of carbohydrate (CHO) loading on physical characteristics including muscle fiber distribution, muscle glycogen concentration, and physical performance were studied in two top Swedish ice hockey teams. Players were randomly allocated to two groups: those consuming a CHO-enriched diet (CHO group) and those consuming a mixed diet (controls). Biopsies from the vastus lateralis muscle were taken three times: after Game 1, before Game 2, and after Game 2. Muscle fiber distribution averaged 50 ± 2% slow twitch fibers (mean ± 1SEM). Muscle glycogen concentrations (measured in mmol glucose units · kg−1 wet muscle) were as follows: after Game 1, 43 ± 4 (ail players); before Game 2,99 ± 7 (CHO group) and 81 ± 7 (controls); and after Game 2, 46 ± 6 (CHO group) and 44 ± 5 (controls). Distance skated, number of shifts skated, amount of time skated within shifts, and skating speed improved with CHO loading. It was concluded that individual differences in performance could be related to muscle glycogen metabolism.