Exogenous carbohydrate and regulation of muscle carbohydrate utilisation during exercise.


Malone JJ(1), Hulton AT(2), MacLaren DPM(3).
Author information:
(1)School of Health Sciences, Liverpool Hope University, Taggart Avenue, Liverpool, L16 9JD, UK. [Email]
(2)Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford, UK.
(3)Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK.


PURPOSE: Carbohydrates (CHO) are one of the fundamental energy sources during prolonged steady state and intermittent exercise. The consumption of exogenous CHO during exercise is common place, with the aim to enhance sporting performance. Despite the popularity around exogenous CHO use, the process by which CHO is regulated from intake to its use in the working muscle is still not fully appreciated. Recent studies utilizing the hyperglycaemic glucose clamp technique have shed light on some of the potential barriers to CHO utilisation during exercise. The present review addresses the role of exogenous CHO utilisation during exercise, with a focus on potential mechanisms involved, from glucose uptake to glucose delivery and oxidation at the different stages of regulation. METHODS: Narrative review. RESULTS: A number of potential barriers were identified, including gastric emptying, intestinal absorption, blood flow (splanchnic and muscle), muscle uptake and oxidation. The relocation of glucose transporters plays a key role in the regulation of CHO, particularly in epithelial cells and subsequent transport into the blood. Limitations are also apparent when CHO is infused, particularly with regards to blood flow and uptake within the muscle. CONCLUSION: We highlight a number of potential barriers involved with the regulation of both ingested and infused CHO during exercise. Future work on the influence of longitudinal training within the regulation processes (such as the gut) is warranted to further understand the optimal type, dose and method of CHO delivery to enhance sporting performance.