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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1991 Oct;71(4):1331-9.

Effects of muscle glycogen and plasma FFA availability on human metabolic responses in cold water.

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Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine, North York, Ontario, Canada.


The purpose of this study was to investigate whether simultaneous alterations in the availability of plasma free fatty acids and muscle glycogen would impair the maintenance of thermal balance during cold water immersion in humans. Eight seminude subjects were immersed on two occasions in 18 degrees C water for 90 min or until rectal temperature (Tre) decreased to 35.5 degrees C. Each immersion followed 2.5 days of a specific dietary and exercise regimen designed to elicit low (LOW) or high glycogen levels (HIGH) in large skeletal muscle groups. Nicotinic acid (1.6 mg/kg) was administered for 2 h before and during immersion to inhibit white adipose tissue lipolysis. Biopsies from the vastus lateralis showed that the glycogen concentration before the immersion was significantly lower in LOW than in HIGH (223 +/- 19 vs. 473 +/- 24 mmol glucose units/kg dry muscle). However, the mean rates of glycogen utilization were not significantly different between trials (LOW 0.62 +/- 0.14 vs. HIGH 0.88 +/- 0.15 mmol glucose Nicotinic acid dramatically reduced plasma free fatty acid levels in both trials, averaging 127 +/- 21 mumol/l immediately before the immersion. Cold water immersion did not significantly alter those levels. Plasma glucose levels were significantly reduced after cold water immersion to a similar extent in both trials (18 +/- 4%). Mean respiratory exchange ratio at rest and during immersion was greater in HIGH than LOW, whereas there were no intertrial differences in O2 uptake. The calculated average metabolic heat production during immersion tended to be lower (P = 0.054) in LOW than in HIGH (15.3 +/- 1.9 vs. 17.5 +/- 1.9 kJ/min).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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