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J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2019 Oct 26;16(1):46. doi: 10.1186/s12970-019-0317-4.

Effects of supplementing with an 18% carbohydrate-hydrogel drink versus a placebo during whole-body exercise in -5 °C with elite cross-country ski athletes: a crossover study.

Author information

Center for Health and Performance, Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Swedish Olympic Committee, Stockholm, Sweden.
Center for Health and Performance, Department of Food and Nutrition, and Sport Science, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Swedish Olympic Committee, Stockholm, Sweden.
Swedish Winter Sports Research Centre, Department of Health Sciences, Mid Sweden University, Östersund, Sweden.



Whilst the ergogenic effects of carbohydrate intake during prolonged exercise are well-documented, few investigations have studied the effects of carbohydrate ingestion during cross-country skiing, a mode of exercise that presents unique metabolic demands on athletes due to the combined use of large upper- and lower-body muscle masses. Moreover, no previous studies have investigated exogenous carbohydrate oxidation rates during cross-country skiing. The current study investigated the effects of a 13C-enriched 18% multiple-transportable carbohydrate solution (1:0.8 maltodextrin:fructose) with additional gelling polysaccharides (CHO-HG) on substrate utilization and gastrointestinal symptoms during prolonged cross-country skiing exercise in the cold, and subsequent double-poling time-trial performance in ~ 20 °C.


Twelve elite cross-country ski athletes (6 females, 6 males) performed 120-min of submaximal roller-skiing (69.3 ± 2.9% of [Formula: see text]O2peak) in -5 °C while receiving either 2.2 g CHO-HG·min- 1 or a non-caloric placebo administered in a double-blind, randomized manner. Whole-body substrate utilization and exogenous carbohydrate oxidation was calculated for the last 60 min of the submaximal exercise. The maximal time-trial (2000 m for females, 2400 m for males) immediately followed the 120-min submaximal bout. Repeated-measures ANOVAs with univariate follow-ups were conducted, as well as independent and paired t-tests, and significance was set at P < 0.05. Data are presented as mean ± SD.


Exogenous carbohydrate oxidation contributed 27.6 ± 6.6% to the total energy yield with CHO-HG and the peak exogenous carbohydrate oxidation rate reached 1.33 ± 0.27 g·min- 1. Compared to placebo, fat oxidation decreased by 9.5 ± 4.8% with CHO-HG, total carbohydrate oxidation increased by 9.5 ± 4.8% and endogenous carbohydrate utilization decreased by 18.1 ± 6.4% (all P < 0.05). No severe gastrointestinal symptoms were reported in either trial and euhydration was maintained in both trials. Time-trial performance (8.4 ± 0.4 min) was not improved following CHO-HG compared to placebo (- 0.8 ± 3.5 s; 95% confidence interval - 3.0 to 1.5 s; P = 0.46). No sex differences were identified in substrate utilization or relative performance.


Ingestion of an 18% multiple-transportable carbohydrate solution with gelling polysaccharides was found to be well-tolerated during 120 min of submaximal whole-body exercise, but did not improve subsequent maximal double-poling performance.


Biathlete; Cold; Double-poling; Endurance; Roller-skiing; Sex differences; Stabile isotopes; Substrate utilization; World-class

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