Numerous studies have shown that ingesting carbohydrate in the form of a drink can improve exercise performance by maintaining blood glucose levels and sparing endogenous glycogen stores. The effectiveness of carbohydrate gels or jellybeans in improving endurance performance has not been examined. On 4 separate days and 1–2 hr after a standardized meal, 16 male (8; 35.8 ± 2.5 yr) and female (8; 32.4 ± 2.4 yr) athletes cycled at 75% VO2peak for 80 min followed by a 10-km time trial. Participants consumed isocaloric (0.6 g of carbohydrate per kg per hour) amounts of randomly assigned sports beans, sports drink, gel, or water only, before, during, and after exercise. Blood glucose concentrations were similar at rest between treatments and decreased significantly during exercise with the water trial only. Blood glucose concentrations for all carbohydrate supplements were significantly, p < .05, higher than water during the 80-min exercise bout and during the time trial (5.7 ± 0.2 mmol/L for sports beans, 5.6 ± 0.2 mmol/L for sports drink, 5.7 ± 0.3 mmol/L for gel, and 4.6 ± 0.3 mmol/L for water). There were no significant differences in blood glucose between carbohydrate treatments. The 10-km time trials using all 3 carbohydrate treatments were significantly faster (17.2 ± 0.6 min for sports beans, 17.3 ± 0.6 min for sports drink, and 17.3 ± 0.6 min for gel) than water (17.8 ± 0.7 min). All carbohydrate-supplement types were equally effective in maintaining blood glucose levels during exercise and improving exercise performance compared with water only.
Campbell, Prince, Braun, and Casazza are with the Sports Performance Laboratory, University of California, Davis, Sacramento, CA 95816. Applegate is with the Dept. of Nutrition, University of California, Davis, Davis, CA 95616-5270.