Pre-Exercise Carbohydrate or Protein Ingestion Influences Substrate Oxidation but Not Performance or Hunger Compared with Cycling in the Fasted State


Nutritional intake can influence exercise metabolism and performance, but there is a lack of research comparing protein-rich pre-exercise meals with endurance exercise performed both in the fasted state and following a carbohydrate-rich breakfast. The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of three pre-exercise nutrition strategies on metabolism and exercise capacity during cycling. On three occasions, seventeen trained male cyclists (VO2peak 62.2 ± 5.8 mL·kg−1·min−1, 31.2 ± 12.4 years, 74.8 ± 9.6 kg) performed twenty minutes of submaximal cycling (4 × 5 min stages at 60%, 80%, and 100% of ventilatory threshold (VT), and 20% of the difference between power at the VT and peak power), followed by 3 × 3 min intervals at 80% peak aerobic power and 3 × 3 min intervals at maximal effort, 30 min after consuming a carbohydrate-rich meal (CARB; 1 g/kg CHO), a protein-rich meal (PROTEIN; 0.45 g/kg protein + 0.24 g/kg fat), or water (FASTED), in a randomized and counter-balanced order. Fat oxidation was lower for CARB compared with FASTED at and below the VT, and compared with PROTEIN at 60% VT. There were no differences between trials for average power during high-intensity intervals (367 ± 51 W, p = 0.516). Oxidative stress (F2-Isoprostanes), perceived exertion, and hunger were not different between trials. Overall, exercising in the overnight- fasted state increased fat oxidation during submaximal exercise compared with exercise following a CHO-rich breakfast, and pre-exercise protein ingestion allowed similarly high levels of fat oxidation. There were no differences in perceived exertion, hunger, or performance, and we provide novel data showing no influence of pre-exercise nutrition ingestion on exercise-induced oxidative stress.