Metabolic and hormonal responses to body carbohydrate store depletion followed by high or low carbohydrate meal in sedentary and physically active subjects

J Physiol Pharmacol. 2010 Apr;61(2):193-200.


The study was designed to determine metabolic and hormonal responses to acute modification of body carbohydrate stores by exercise and subsequent meals and to find out whether the responses depend on the training status of subjects. Nine sedentary students and 10 endurance athletes took part in four experimental sessions. During control session, after overnight fast oxygen uptake and CO2 production were measured and blood glucose, free fatty acids (FFA), insulin (I), leptin (L), growth hormone (GH), testosterone (T), catecholamines, ACTH and cortisol were determined. The remaining sessions were preceded by 1.5 h exercise at 70% HRmax in the evening followed by 12-16 hrs fast till morning when subjects ate either high-carbohydrate (H-CHO) or low-carbohydrate (L-CHO) meal or fasted. Respiratory gases and blood samples were collected before and 2 hours after meal. In glycogen depleted subjects respiratory quotient (RQ), I, norepinephrine (NE) and L decreased, whilst other variables were unaltered. Changes in I and NE were greater in athletes than in sedentary subjects. After H-CHO RQ, blood glucose, I and NE increased and FFA, GH and T decreased. The latter effect was greater in athletes than in untrained subjects. After L-CHO, RQ was at the fasting level and FFA increased only in sedentary group. In both groups I increased and GH and T decreased. Neither meal affected L concentration. In conclusion, hormonal and metabolic changes observed after depleting carbohydrate stores resemble those occurring during starvation. Composition of the ingested meal affects postprandial metabolism, which additionally depends on the subjects' training status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Athletes
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism / physiology*
  • Catecholamines / metabolism
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Glycogen / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Oxygen Consumption / physiology


  • Blood Glucose
  • Catecholamines
  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Glycogen