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J Appl Physiol (1985). 2001 Jul;91(1):225-30.

Gender differences in carbohydrate loading are related to energy intake.

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  • 1Departments of Medicine (Neurology and Rehabilitation), McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario L8N 3Z5. tarnopol@mcmaster.ca


We demonstrated that female endurance athletes did not increase their muscle glycogen concentration after an increase in the dietary carbohydrate intake (58 --> 74%), whereas men did (Tarnopolsky MA, SA Atkinson, SM Phillips, and JD McDougall, J Appl Physiol 78: 1360-1368, 1995). This may have been related to a lower energy or carbohydrate intake by the women or due to an inherent gender difference in glycogen storage capacity. We examined whether well-trained men (n = 6) and women (n = 6) increased muscle glycogen concentration after an increase in both the relative (58 --> 75%) and absolute energy and carbohydrate intake and whether potential gender differences were related to muscle hexokinase enzyme activity. Subjects were randomly allocated to three diets [Hab, habitual; CHO, high carbohydrate (75%); and CHO + E, extra energy + CHO ( upward arrow~34%)] for a 4-day period before a muscle biopsy for analysis of total and pro- and macroglycogen and hexokinase activity. Total glycogen concentration was higher for the men on the CHO and CHO + E trials compared with Hab (P < 0.05), whereas women increased only on the CHO + E trial compared with Hab (P < 0.05). There were no gender differences in the proportion of pro- and macroglycogen or hexokinase activity. A low energy intake may explain the previously reported lower capacity for women to glycogen load compared with men.

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