Carbohydrate supercompensation and muscle glycogen utilization during exhaustive running in highly trained athletes

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Three female and three male highly trained endurance runners with mean maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max) values of 60.5 and 71.5, respectively, ran to exhaustion at 75%-80% of VO2max on two occasions after an overnight fast. One experiment was performed after a normal diet and training regimen (Norm), the other after a diet and training programme intended to increase muscle glycogen levels (Carb). Muscle glycogen concentration in the gastrocnemius muscle increased by 25% (P less than 0.05) from 581 dry weight, SEM 50 to 722 dry weight, SEM 34 after Carb. Running time to exhaustion, however, was not significantly different in Carb and Norm, 77 min, SEM 13 vs 70 min, SEM 8, respectively. The average glycogen concentration following exhaustive running was 553 dry weight, SEM 70 in Carb and 434 dry weight, SEM 57 in Norm, indicating that in both tests muscle glycogen stores were decreased by about 25%. Periodic acid-Schiff staining for semi-quantitative glycogen determination in individual fibres confirmed that none of the fibres appeared to be glycogen-empty after exhaustive running. The steady-state respiratory exchange ratio was higher in Carb than in Norm (0.92, SEM 0.01 vs 0.89, SEM 0.01; P less than 0.05). Since muscle glycogen utilization was identical in the two tests, the indication of higher utilization of total carbohydrate appears to be related to a higher utilization of liver glycogen. We have concluded that glycogen depletion of the gastrocnemius muscle is unlikely to be the cause of fatigue during exhaustive running at 75%-80% of VO2max in highly trained endurance runners. Furthermore, diet- and training-induced carbohydrate super-compensation does not appear to improve endurance capacity in such individuals.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology
Issue number5-6
Pages (from-to)467-472
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 1990

    Research areas

  • Adult, Carbohydrate Metabolism, Energy Metabolism, Fatigue, Female, Glycogen, Heart Rate, Humans, Liver, Male, Muscles, Physical Endurance, Pulmonary Gas Exchange, Respiration, Running

ID: 154756149