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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2010 Jan;108(1):131-40. doi: 10.1007/s00421-009-1185-4. Epub 2009 Sep 17.

Effect of carbohydrate ingestion on exercise performance and carbohydrate metabolism in persons with spinal cord injury.

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Discipline of Exercise and Sports Science, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Sydney, Lidcombe, NSW, Australia.


Carbohydrate ingestion during exercise and as a pre-exercise bolus improves exercise performance in able-bodied athletes. Little is known about the potential for carbohydrate ingestion to improve exercise performance in athletes with spinal cord injury (SCI), nor the potential physiological limitations of such a practice resulting from an SCI. Therefore, this study investigated the effects of carbohydrate ingestion on exercise performance in physically active and athletic persons with SCI. Six participants with complete SCI (neurological level of lesion ranging from C(6) to T(7)) and normal glucose tolerance were studied twice during 60 min of arm cranking at 65% of peak oxygen consumption followed by a 20-min time trial with the ingestion of either a carbohydrate drink (CHO trial: 0.5 g CHO kg(-1) body weight in 500 ml) or placebo (PLA trial) applied in a double-blind counter-balanced manner. The participants with tetraplegia had sufficient neurological function to permit voluntary arm-cranking exercise. There was no difference in time-trial performance between CHO and PLA trials (P > 0.05). The results suggest that carbohydrate ingestion in persons with SCI does not improve exercise performance.

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