Regulation of fuel metabolism by preexercise muscle glycogen content and exercise intensity

Melissa J. Arkinstall, Clinton R. Bruce, Sally A. Clark, Caroline A. Rickards, Louise M. Burke, John A. Hawley

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65 Scopus citations


To date, the results of studies that have examined the effects of altering preexercise muscle glycogen content and exercise intensity on endogenous carbohydrate oxidation are equivocal. Differences in the training status of subjects between investigations may, in part, explain these inconsistent findings. Accordingly, we determined the relative effects of exercise intensity and carbohydrate availability on patterns of fuel utilization in the same subjects who performed a random order of four 60-min rides, two at 45% and two at 70% of peak O2 uptake (Vo2 peak), after exercise-diet intervention to manipulate muscle glycogen content. Preexercise muscle glycogen content was 596 ± 43 and 202 ± 21 mmol/kg dry mass (P < 0.001) for high-glycogen (HG) and low-glycogen (LG) conditions, respectively. Respiratory exchange ratio was higher for HG than LG during exercise at both 45% (0.85 ± 0.01 vs. 0.74 ± 0.01; P < 0.001) and 70% (0.90 ± 0.01 vs. 0.79 ± 0.01; P < 0.001) of Vo2 peak. The contribution of whole body muscle glycogen oxidation to energy expenditure differed between LG and HG for exercise at both 45% (5 ± 2 vs. 45 ± 5%; P < 0.001) and 70% (25 ± 3 vs. 60 ± 3%; P < 0.001) of Vo2peak. Yet, despite marked differences in preexercise muscle glycogen content and its subsequent utilization, rates of plasma glucose disappearance were similar under all conditions. We conclude that, in moderately trained individuals, muscle glycogen availability (low vs. high) does not influence rates of plasma glucose disposal during either low- or moderate-intensity exercise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2275-2283
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2004


  • Diet
  • Glucose rate of disappearance
  • Training status


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