J16 High vs. low glycaemic index pre-exercise feeding


  • Tom Nicholls Liverpool John Moores University
  • Lee Fisher Liverpool John Moores University
  • Heidi Broadbridge Liverpool John Moores University
  • Bethan Rowland Liverpool John Moores University
  • Emma Blair Liverpool John Moores University
  • Matthew Howe Liverpool John Moores University
  • Ellis Klaus Liverpool John Moores University
  • Davey O’Donoghue Liverpool John Moores University




Carbohydrates are proven to be the most important energy source to skeletal muscle during endurance exercise. However, the glucose that carbohydrates provide the muscle with can differ in how quickly they are digested and released into the bloodstream. High glycaemic index (GI) carbohydrates are released into the bloodstream in a rapid burst following digestion whereas low GI carbohydrates are released into the bloodstream at a constant rate after consumption. The effects of low and high GI carbohydrate consumption pre-exercise on endurance exercise performance are not comprehensively understood. Therefore, the aim of this study is to identify the impact of low vs high GI pre-exercise feeding on maximal effort endurance exercise performance. With institutional ethics approval, twelve physically active, healthy males aged 18-40 years attended the laboratory on four separate occasions. On the first occasion, participants underwent a V̇O2max test to identify their maximal aerobic capacity. The final three lab visits consisted of the participants undergoing trials under three differing conditions upon arrival in the fasted state (participants were instructed to not consume food or drink other than water 6 h before arrival). The trial entailed of 20 km cycling followed by 5 km running with 2 min rest in between. Upon arrival, the participants received a carbohydrate beverage, either 40 g high GI, 40 g low GI, or a placebo, 15 min before exercising. Before consumption of the beverage, before the onset of exercise, after each 5 km during the cycle and following the run, heart rate and RPE were recorded, and a finger prick blood sample was taken to analyse for blood glucose and blood lactate concentrations throughout the exercise bout. However, the primary performance indicator was the overall time to complete the trial (bike and run minus 2 min rest). The final order of mean completion time across conditions from fastest to slowest went low GI, high GI, placebo. There was no significant difference between the mean time to completion in the low GI and high GI conditions. However, the low GI condition resulted in a faster time to completion than the placebo condition (P = 0.02) as well as the high GI condition resulting in a faster time to completion than the placebo condition (P = 0.043). Therefore, this could demonstrate that the presence of any carbohydrate type is more influential on endurance exercise performance rather than the glycaemic index of such carbohydrates.