Int J Sports Med 1991; 12(2): 180-186
DOI: 10.1055/s-2007-1024664
© Georg Thieme Verlag Stuttgart · New York

Carbohydrate Feeding before Exercise: Effect of Glycemic Index

D. E. Thomas, J. R. Brotherhood, J. C. Brand
  • Human Nutrition Unit, Department of Biochemistry, University of Sydney
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Publication History

Publication Date:
14 March 2008 (online)


Low glycemic index (GI) foods may confer an advantage when eaten before prolonged strenuous exercise by providing a slow-release source of glucose to the blood without an accompanying insulin surge. To test this hypothesis, eight trained cyclists pedalled to exhaustion one hour after ingestion of equal carbohydrate portions of four test meals: lentils, a low GI food (LGI); potato, a high GI food (HGI), and glucose and water. Plasma glucose and insulin levels were lower after LGI than after HGI from 30 to 60 min after ingestion (p < 0.05). Plasma free fatty acid (FFA) levels were highest after water (p < 0.05) followed by LGI and then glucose and HGI. From 45 to 60 min after ingestion, plasma lactate was higher in the HGI trial than in the LGI trial (p < 0.05) and remained higher throughout the period of exercise. The rank order from lowest to highest for total carbohydrate oxidation during exercise was water, lentils, glucose and potato. Endurance time was 20 min longer after LGI than after HGI (p < 0.05). These findings suggest that a low GI pre-game meal may prolong endurance during strenuous exercise by inducing less postprandial hyperglycemia and hyperinsulinemia, lower levels of plasma lactate before and during exercise, and by maintaining plasma glucose and FFA at higher levels during critical periods of exercise.