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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 1999 Jan;31(1):164-70.

Pre-exercise carbohydrate meals: application of glycemic index.

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Department of Nutrition and Food Science, San Jose State University, CA 95192-0058, USA.



The purpose of this study was to compare postprandial glycemic, insulinemic, and physiologic responses to a pre-exercise meal calculated to have a low glycemic index (LGI) with one calculated to have a moderately high glycemic index (HGI); each meal provided three foods totaling 1.5 g carbohydrate/kg body weight.


After an overnight fast, 10 trained cyclists consumed one of the test meals or water 30 min before cycling 2 h at 70% of maximum oxygen uptake (VO2max), followed by cycling to exhaustion at 100% of VO2max.


Plasma insulin levels were significantly lower (P < 0.05) after LGI than after HGI through 20 min of exercise. Significantly higher (P < 0.05) respiratory exchange ratios were observed after HGI than after LGI until 2 h of exercise. At that time plasma glucose levels were significantly higher and ratings of perceived exertion lower (P < 0.05) after LGI compared with after HGI. Time to exhaustion was 59% longer after LGI (206.5+/-43.5 s) than after HGI (129.5+/-22.8 s).


These results suggest a pre-exercise LGI may positively affect maximal performance following sustained exercise. The LGI maintained higher plasma glucose levels at the end of 2 h of strenuous exercise than the HGI, which may have better supported subsequent maximal effort.

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