Pre-exercise nutritional strategies: effects on metabolism and performance

Can J Appl Physiol. 2001:26 Suppl:S64-70. doi: 10.1139/h2001-043.


The goals of pre-exercise nutritional strategies are to optimise the availability of carbohydrate (CHO) and fluid. Ingestion of CHO 3-4 hr prior to exercise can increase liver and muscle glycogen stores and has been associated with enhanced endurance exercise performance. The metabolic effects of CHO ingestion persist for at least 6 hr. Although an increase in plasma insulin following CHO ingestion in the hour prior to exercise inhibits lipolysis and liver glucose output, and can lead to transient hypoglycemia during subsequent exercise, there is no convincing evidence that this is always associated with impaired exercise performance. Having said that, individual experience should inform individual practice. Interventions to increase plasma FFA availability prior to exercise have been shown to reduce CHO utilisation during exercise, but do not appear to have major ergogenic benefits. It is more difficult to hyperhydrate prior to exercise and although there has been interest in glycerol ingestion, to date research results have been equivocal. At the very least, athletes should ensure euhydration prior to exercise.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Glycogen / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Glycogen