Carbohydrates for training and competition

LM Burke, JA Hawley, SHS Wong, Asker Jeukendrup

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

442 Citations (Scopus)


An athlete's carbohydrate intake can be judged by whether total daily intake and the timing of consumption in relation to exercise maintain adequate carbohydrate substrate for the muscle and central nervous system ("high carbohydrate availability") or whether carbohydrate fuel sources are limiting for the daily exercise programme ("low carbohydrate availability"). Carbohydrate availability is increased by consuming carbohydrate in the hours or days prior to the session, intake during exercise, and refuelling during recovery between sessions. This is important for the competition setting or for high-intensity training where optimal performance is desired. Carbohydrate intake during exercise should be scaled according to the characteristics of the event. During sustained high-intensity sports lasting similar to 1 h, small amounts of carbohydrate, including even mouth-rinsing, enhance performance via central nervous system effects. While 30-60 g.h(-1) is an appropriate target for sports of longer duration, events >2.5 h may benefit from higher intakes of up to 90 g.h(-1). Products containing special blends of different carbohydrates may maximize absorption of carbohydrate at such high rates. In real life, athletes undertake training sessions with varying carbohydrate availability. Whether implementing additional "train-low" strategies to increase the training adaptation leads to enhanced performance in well-trained individuals is unclear.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S17-S27
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2011


  • "train low"
  • energy intake
  • performance
  • Glycogen


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