Carbohydrate supplementation during prolonged cycling exercise spares muscle glycogen but does not affect intramyocellular lipid use

Pflugers Arch. 2007 Jul;454(4):635-47. doi: 10.1007/s00424-007-0236-0. Epub 2007 Feb 27.


Using contemporary stable-isotope methodology and fluorescence microscopy, we assessed the impact of carbohydrate supplementation on whole-body and fiber-type-specific intramyocellular triacylglycerol (IMTG) and glycogen use during prolonged endurance exercise. Ten endurance-trained male subjects were studied twice during 3 h of cycling at 63 +/- 4% of maximal O(2) uptake with either glucose ingestion (CHO trial; 0.7 g CHO kg(-1) h(-1)) or without (CON placebo trial; water only). Continuous infusions with [U-(13)C] palmitate and [6,6-(2)H(2)] glucose were applied to quantify plasma free fatty acids (FFA) and glucose oxidation rates and to estimate intramyocellular lipid and glycogen use. Before and after exercise, muscle biopsy samples were taken to quantify fiber-type-specific IMTG and glycogen content. Plasma glucose rate of appearance (R (a)) and carbohydrate oxidation rates were substantially greater in the CHO vs CON trial. Carbohydrate supplementation resulted in a lower muscle glycogen use during the first hour of exercise in the CHO vs CON trial, resulting in a 38 +/- 19 and 57 +/- 22% decreased utilization in type I and II muscle-fiber glycogen content, respectively. In the CHO trial, both plasma FFA R (a) and subsequent plasma FFA concentrations were lower, resulting in a 34 +/- 12% reduction in plasma FFA oxidation rates during exercise (P < 0.05). Carbohydrate intake did not augment IMTG utilization, as fluorescence microscopy revealed a 76 +/- 21 and 78 +/- 22% reduction in type I muscle-fiber lipid content in the CHO and CON trial, respectively. We conclude that carbohydrate supplementation during prolonged cycling exercise does not modulate IMTG use but spares muscle glycogen use during the initial stages of exercise in endurance-trained men.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / pharmacology*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Test
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / metabolism
  • Glycogen / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Lactates / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism / drug effects*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / drug effects
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Rest / physiology
  • Triglycerides / metabolism


  • Blood Glucose
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Insulin
  • Lactates
  • Triglycerides
  • Glycogen