Enhanced Endurance Performance by Periodization of Carbohydrate Intake: “Sleep Low” Strategy

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We investigated the effect of a chronic dietary periodization strategy on endurance performance in trained athletes.


Twenty-one triathletes (V˙O2max: 58.7 ± 5.7 mL·min−1·kg−1) were divided into two groups: a “sleep-low” (SL) (n = 11) and a control (CON) group (n = 10) consumed the same daily carbohydrate (CHO) intake (6 g·kg−1·d−1) but with different timing over the day to manipulate CHO availability before and after training sessions. The SL strategy consisted of a 3-wk training–diet intervention comprising three blocks of diet–exercise manipulations: 1) “train-high” interval training sessions in the evening with high-CHO availability, 2) overnight CHO restriction (“sleeping-low”), and 3) “train-low” sessions with low endogenous and exogenous CHO availability. The CON group followed the same training program but with high CHO availability throughout training sessions (no CHO restriction overnight, training sessions with exogenous CHO provision).


There was a significant improvement in delta efficiency during submaximal cycling for SL versus CON (CON, +1.4% ± 9.3%; SL, +11% ± 15%, P < 0.05). SL also improved supramaximal cycling to exhaustion at 150% of peak aerobic power (CON, +1.63% ± 12.4%; SL, +12.5% ± 19.0%; P = 0.06) and 10-km running performance (CON, −0.10% ± 2.03%; SL, −2.9% ± 2.15%; P < 0.05). Fat mass was decreased in SL (CON, −2.6 ± 7.4; SL, −8.5% ± 7.4% before; P < 0.01), but not lean mass (CON, −0.22 ± 1.0; SL, −0.16% ± 1.7% PRE).


Short-term periodization of dietary CHO availability around selected training sessions promoted significant improvements in submaximal cycling economy, as well as supramaximal cycling capacity and 10-km running time in trained endurance athletes.

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