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J Clin Invest. 1981 Aug;68(2):399-404.

Comparison of carbohydrate-containing and carbohydrate-restricted hypocaloric diets in the treatment of obesity. Endurance and metabolic fuel homeostasis during strenuous exercise.


Eight untrained, obese females (greater than 30% body fat), ages 25-33 yr, were studied before, at 1 wk, and after 6 wk while taking either of two 830-kcal/d diets: carbohydrate-containing (CC) group (n = 4): 35% protein, 29% fat, 36% carbohydrate-restricted (CR) group (n = 4): 35% protein, 64% fat, 1% carbohydrate. Endurance, at approximately 75% of VO2max (maximum oxygen uptake) on a cycle decreased from base line by 50% at 1 and 6 wk in the CR group, but there was no change in the CC group. Preexercise muscle glycogen (vastus lateralis) did not change significantly in the CC group, but was decreased by 49% in the CR group after 1 wk, and by 51% after 6 wk. There was a close correlation between percent decrease in resting muscle glycogen and percent decrease in endurance (r = 0.79, P less than 0.01). The mean fasting and exercise plasma glucose concentration was lower in the CR group than in the CC group after 6 wk, but no subject became hypoglycemic during exercise. Serum FFA, lactate, pyruvate, beta-hydroxybutyrate, acetoacetate, insulin, and glucagon changed similarly in the two groups during exercise at base line, 1 and 6 wk. Glycerol concentration was higher in the CR group during exercise only after 6 wk. Increases in serum lactate concentrations, and a mean exercise respiratory quotient of 0.93 suggested that cycle exercise at approximately 75% VO2max used predominantly glucose as a fuel.


Resting muscle glycogen and endurance, during cycle exercise at approximately 75% VO2max, were maintained during a 36% carbohydrate, 830-kcal/d diet. In contrast, significant decreases, occurred in resting muscle glycogen and endurance, during similar exercise, after 6 wk of a 1% carbohydrate, 830-kcal/d diet.

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