The influence of diet and exercise on muscle and plasma glutamine concentrations

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This study examined the relationship between muscle glutamine, muscle glycogen, and plasma glutamine concentrations over 3 d of high-intensity exercise during which dietary carbohydrate (CHO) intake varied.


Five endurance-trained men completed two exercise trials in randomized order, over a 14-d period. Each trial required subjects to perform 50 min of high-intensity continuous and interval exercise on three consecutive days while consuming a diet that provided 45% of the energy as CHO or a diet in which CHO provided 70% of the total energy. Four days of inactivity and consumption of a 55% CHO diet separated the two randomized trials. Menus and food were provided for the subjects and all food and drink consumed were weighed and recorded for later analysis. Before exercise on the first day of each trial, at the start of exercise on day 3 and on completion of exercise on day 3, muscle was biopsied from the vastus lateralis for the analysis of glutamine and glycogen concentrations. Venous blood was sampled before and twice after exercise on each day for the analysis of plasma glutamine and cortisol concentrations.


Mean plasma glutamine concentration was significantly higher during the 70% CHO exercise trial when compared with the 45% CHO trial (P < 0.05). Glycogen decreased by the same magnitude during both trials and there was no relationship between changes in plasma glutamine and changes in muscle glycogen concentration. Muscle glutamine concentration did not change in either trial.


These data suggest that the influence of carbohydrate intake upon the concentration of plasma glutamine is not mediated through the concentration of intramuscular glycogen.

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