Muscle metabolism during prolonged exercise in humans: influence of carbohydrate availability

J Appl Physiol (1985). 1999 Sep;87(3):1083-6. doi: 10.1152/jappl.1999.87.3.1083.


Eight endurance-trained men cycled to volitional exhaustion at 69 +/- 1% peak oxygen uptake on two occasions to examine the effect of carbohydrate supplementation during exercise on muscle energy metabolism. Subjects ingested an 8% carbohydrate solution (CHO trial) or a sweet placebo (Con trial) in a double-blind, randomized order, with vastus lateralis muscle biopsies (n = 7) obtained before and immediately after exercise. No differences in oxygen uptake, heart rate, or respiratory exchange ratio during exercise were observed between the trials. Exercise time to exhaustion was increased by approximately 30% when carbohydrate was ingested [199 +/- 21 vs. 152 +/- 9 (SE) min, P < 0.05]. Plasma glucose and insulin levels during exercise were higher and plasma free fatty acids lower in the CHO trial. No differences between trials were observed in the decreases in muscle glycogen and phosphocreatine or the increases in muscle lactate due to exercise. Muscle ATP levels were not altered by exercise in either trial. There was a small but significant increase in muscle inosine monophosphate levels at the point of exhaustion in both trials, and despite the subjects in CHO trial cycling 47 min longer, their muscle inosine monophosphate level was significantly lower than in the Con trial (CHO: 0.16 +/- 0.08, Con: 0.23 +/- 0.09 mmol/kg dry muscle). These data suggest that carbohydrate ingestion may increase endurance capacity, at least in part, by improving muscle energy balance.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anaerobic Threshold / physiology
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / pharmacology*
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / blood
  • Humans
  • Inosine Monophosphate / metabolism
  • Insulin / blood
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Male
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Oxygen Consumption / drug effects
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology
  • Physical Endurance / physiology
  • Physical Fitness / physiology


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Insulin
  • Inosine Monophosphate
  • Lactic Acid