Background-exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) and internal exercise load are increased after competing in ultraendurance events such as mountain marathons. Adequate carbohydrate (CHO) intake during exercise optimizes athletic performance and could limit EIMD, reduce internal exercise load and, thus, improve recovery. Therefore, the aim of this study was to research into and compare the effects of high CHO intake (120 g/h) in terms of CHO intake recommendation (90 g/h) and regular CHO intake performed by ultraendurance athletes (60 g/h) during a mountain marathon, on exercise load and EIMD markers (creatine kinase (CK), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), glutamic oxaloacetic transaminase (GOT), urea and creatinine). Materials and Methods-a randomized trial was carried out on 20 male elite runners who had previously undertaken nutritional and gut training, and who consumed different CHO dosages according to experimental (EXP-120 g/h), control (CON-90 g/h) and low CHO intake (LOW-60 g/h) groups during a ~4000 m cumulative slope mountain marathon. EIMD markers were analyzed before the race and 24 h afterwards. Internal exercise load was calculated based on rate of perceived exertion (RPE) during and after the marathon event. Results-internal exercise load during the mountain marathon was significantly lower (p = 0.019; η2p = 0.471) in EXP (3805 ± 281 AU) compared to LOW (4688 ± 705 AU) and CON (4692 ± 716 AU). Moreover, results revealed that the EXP group evidenced significantly lower CK (p = 0.019; η2p = 0.373), LDH (p < 0.001; η2p = 0.615) and GOT (p = 0.003; η2p = 0.500) values 24 h after the mountain marathon race compared to LOW and CON. Along these lines, EIMD and exercise load evidenced a close correlation (R = 0.742; p < 0.001). Conclusion: High CHO intake (120 g/h) during a mountain marathon could limit the EIMD observed by CK, LDH and GOT and internal exercise load compared to CHO ingestion of 60 and 90 g/h.
Keywords: athletic performance; dietary intake; glycogen; muscle recovery.