Repeated High-Intensity Cycling Performance Is Unaffected by Timing of Carbohydrate Ingestion

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Abstract

Shei, R-J, Paris, HL, Beck, CP, Chapman, RF, and Mickleborough, TD. Repeated high-intensity cycling performance is unaffected by timing of carbohydrate ingestion. J Strength Cond Res 32(8): 2243–2249, 2018—To determine whether carbohydrate (CHO) feeding taken immediately before, early, or late in a series of high-intensity cycling exercises affected cycling performance. A total of 16 trained, male cyclists (>6 hours postprandial) performed 3-, 4-km cycling time trials (TT1, TT2, and TT3) separated by 15 minutes of active recovery on 4 separate occasions. Carbohydrate feeding (80 g) was given either before TT1 (PRE1), before TT2 (PRE2), before TT3 (PRE3), or not at all (control, CTL). Treatment order was randomized. Sweet placebo was given before the other TTs. Blood glucose (BG) concentration was measured before each trial. Mean power output (Pmean) and time to completion (TTC) were recorded. Pmean was higher in TT1 compared with TT2 (p = 0.001) and TT3 (p = 0.004) in all conditions, but no differences were observed between treatments. Time to completion was lower in TT1 compared with TT2 (p = 0.01), but no other differences in TTC (within or between treatments) were observed. Within CTL and PRE1, BG did not differ between TT1, TT2, and TT3. In PRE2, BG was significantly higher in TT2 compared with TT1 (p = 0.006), in TT3 compared with TT1 (p = 0.001), and in TT3 compared with TT2 (p = 0.01). In PRE3, BG was significantly higher in TT3 compared with TT1 and TT2 (p = 0.001 for both). Given that performance was not influenced by the timing of CHO ingestion, athletes engaging in repeated, high-intensity cycling exercise do not need to ingest CHO before- or between-exercise bouts; furthermore, athletes should refrain from ingesting CHO between bouts if they wish to avoid a rise in BG.

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