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Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Dec;285(6):E1304-11. Epub 2003 Aug 5.

Effects of depletion exercise and light training on muscle glycogen supercompensation in men.

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Naval Health Research Center, San Diego, California 92186, USA.


Supercompensated muscle glycogen can be achieved by using several carbohydrate (CHO)-loading protocols. This study compared the effectiveness of two "modified" CHO-loading protocols. Additionally, we determined the effect of light cycle training on muscle glycogen. Subjects completed a depletion (D, n = 15) or nondepletion (ND, n = 10) CHO-loading protocol. After a 2-day adaptation period in a metabolic ward, the D group performed a 120-min cycle exercise at 65% peak oxygen uptake (VO2 peak) followed by 1-min sprints at 120% VO2 peak to exhaustion. The ND group performed only 20-min cycle exercise at 65% VO2 peak. For the next 6 days, both groups ate the same high-CHO diets and performed 20-min daily cycle exercise at 65% VO2 peak followed by a CHO beverage (105 g of CHO). Muscle glycogen concentrations of the vastus lateralis were measured daily with 13C magnetic resonance spectroscopy. On the morning of day 5, muscle glycogen concentrations had increased 1.45 (D) and 1.24 (ND) times baseline (P < 0.001) but did not differ significantly between groups. However, on day 7, muscle glycogen of the D group was significantly greater (p < 0.01) than that of the ND group (130 +/- 7 vs. 104 +/- 5 mmol/l). Daily cycle exercise decreased muscle glycogen by 10 +/- 2 (D) and 14 +/- 5 mmol/l (ND), but muscle glycogen was equal to or greater than preexercise values 24 h later. In conclusion, a CHO-loading protocol that begins with a glycogen-depleting exercise results in significantly greater muscle glycogen that persists longer than a CHO-loading protocol using only an exercise taper. Daily exercise at 65% VO2 peak for 20 min can be performed throughout the CHO-loading protocol without negatively affecting muscle glycogen supercompensation.

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