Intramuscular glycogen and intramyocellular lipid utilization during prolonged exercise and recovery in man: a 13C and 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy study

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2000 Feb;85(2):748-54. doi: 10.1210/jcem.85.2.6354.


Depletion of muscle glycogen is considered a limiting performance factor during prolonged exercise, whereas the role of the intramyocellular lipid (IMCL) pool is not yet fully understood. We examined 1) intramyocellular glycogen and lipid utilization during prolonged exercise, 2) resynthesis of muscle glycogen and lipids during recovery, and 3) changes in glycogen content between nonexercising and exercising muscles during recovery. Subjects ran on a treadmill at submaximal intensity until exhaustion. Glycogen concentrations were assessed in thigh, calf, and nonexercising forearm muscle, and IMCL content was measured in soleus muscle using magnetic resonance spectroscopy techniques. At the time of exhaustion, glycogen depletion was 2-fold greater in calf than in thigh muscles, but a significant amount of glycogen was left in both leg muscles. The glycogen concentration in nonexercising forearm muscle decreased during the initial 5 h of recovery to 73% of the baseline value. Duringthe exercise, the IMCL content decreased to 67% and subsequently during recovery increased to 83% of the baseline value. In summary, we found during prolonged running 1) significantly greater muscle glycogen utilization in the calf muscle group than in the thigh muscle group, 2) significant utilization of IMCL in the soleus muscle, and 3) a decrease in glycogen content in nonexercising muscle and an increase in glycogen content in recovering muscles during the postexercise phase. These latter data are consistent with the hypothesis that there is transfer of glycogen by the glucose-lactate and the glucose-->alanine cycle from the resting muscle (forearm) to recovering muscles (thigh and calf) after running exercise.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / blood
  • Female
  • Glycogen / metabolism*
  • Hormones / blood
  • Humans
  • Intracellular Membranes / metabolism*
  • Lactic Acid / blood
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Protons
  • Time Factors


  • Blood Glucose
  • Carbon Isotopes
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Hormones
  • Protons
  • Lactic Acid
  • Glycogen