Effect of muscle glycogen on glucose, lactate and amino acid metabolism during exercise and recovery in human subjects

J Physiol. 1999 Jan 1;514 ( Pt 1)(Pt 1):293-302. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7793.1999.293af.x.


1. Eight subjects performed two-legged exercise, one leg with low and the other with normal muscle glycogen content. The purpose was to study the effect of low initial muscle glycogen content on the metabolic response during 1 h of exercise and 2 h of recovery. This model allows direct comparison of net fluxes of substrates and metabolites over the exercising legs receiving the same arterial inflow. 2. Muscle glycogen breakdown during exercise was 60% lower in the leg with a reduced pre-exercise glycogen concentration and the rate of glucose uptake during exercise was 30% higher. 3. The amount of pyruvate that was oxidized during exercise was calculated to be approximately 450 mmol in the low-glycogen leg and 750 mmol in the normal-glycogen leg, which suggests more fat and amino acid oxidation in the low-glycogen leg. 4. During exercise, there was a significant release of amino acids not metabolized in the muscle, e. g. tyrosine and phenylalanine, only from the low-glycogen leg, suggesting an increased rate of net protein degradation in this leg. 5. The release of tyrosine and phenylalanine from the low-glycogen leg during the exercise period and the change in their muscle concentrations yield a net tyrosine and phenylalanine production rate of 1.4 and 1.5 mmol h-1, respectively. The net rate of protein degradation was then calculated to be 7-12 g h-1. 6. The results suggest that the observed differences in metabolism between the low-glycogen and the normal-glycogen leg are induced by the glycogen level per se, since the legs received the same arterial supply of hormones and substrates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Amino Acids / metabolism*
  • Ammonia / metabolism
  • Bicycling
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glycogen / metabolism*
  • Heart Rate
  • Human Growth Hormone / blood
  • Humans
  • Insulin / blood
  • Lactic Acid / metabolism*
  • Leg / physiology
  • Male
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Norepinephrine / blood
  • Physical Exertion / physiology
  • Regional Blood Flow / physiology
  • Respiratory Function Tests


  • Amino Acids
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Insulin
  • Human Growth Hormone
  • Lactic Acid
  • Ammonia
  • Glycogen
  • Glucose
  • Norepinephrine