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Physiol Rep. 2016 May;4(10). pii: e12803. doi: 10.14814/phy2.12803.

Fuel for the work required: a practical approach to amalgamating train-low paradigms for endurance athletes.

Author information

Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK.
MRC-ARUK Centre for Musculoskeletal Aging, Research Division of Medical Sciences and Graduate Entry Medicine, School of Medicine Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Nottingham Royal Derby Hospital Centre, Derby, UK.
MRC-ARUK Centre for Musculoskeletal Aging Research, School of Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.
Health and Exercise Sciences Research Group, University of Stirling, Stirling, UK.
Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK


Using an amalgamation of previously studied "train-low" paradigms, we tested the effects of reduced carbohydrate (CHO) but high leucine availability on cell-signaling responses associated with exercise-induced regulation of mitochondrial biogenesis and muscle protein synthesis (MPS). In a repeated-measures crossover design, 11 males completed an exhaustive cycling protocol with high CHO availability before, during, and after exercise (HIGH) or alternatively, low CHO but high protein (leucine enriched) availability (LOW + LEU). Muscle glycogen was different (P < 0.05) pre-exercise (HIGH: 583 ± 158, LOW + LEU: 271 ± 85 mmol kg(-1) dw) but decreased (P < 0.05) to comparable levels at exhaustion (≈100 mmol kg(-1) dw). Despite differences (P < 0.05) in exercise capacity (HIGH: 158 ± 29, LOW + LEU: 100 ± 17 min), exercise induced (P < 0.05) comparable AMPKα2 (3-4-fold) activity, PGC-1α (13-fold), p53 (2-fold), Tfam (1.5-fold), SIRT1 (1.5-fold), Atrogin 1 (2-fold), and MuRF1 (5-fold) gene expression at 3 h post-exercise. Exhaustive exercise suppressed p70S6K activity to comparable levels immediately post-exercise (≈20 fmol min(-1) mg(-1)). Despite elevated leucine availability post-exercise, p70S6K activity remained suppressed (P < 0.05) 3 h post-exercise in LOW + LEU (28 ± 14 fmol min(-1) mg(-1)), whereas muscle glycogen resynthesis (40 mmol kg(-1) dw h(-1)) was associated with elevated (P < 0.05) p70S6K activity in HIGH (53 ± 30 fmol min(-1) mg(-1)). We conclude: (1) CHO restriction before and during exercise induces "work-efficient" mitochondrial-related cell signaling but; (2) post-exercise CHO and energy restriction maintains p70S6K activity at basal levels despite feeding leucine-enriched protein. Our data support the practical concept of "fuelling for the work required" as a potential strategy for which to amalgamate train-low paradigms into periodized training programs.


Mitochondrial biogenesis; muscle glycogen; train‐low

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