Carb-conscious: the role of carbohydrate intake in recovery from exercise

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  • University of Bath


PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The present review summarized evidence on the role of carbohydrates in recovery from exercise within the context of acute and chronic effects on metabolism and performance.

RECENT FINDINGS: Recent studies demonstrate that, in contrast to recovery of muscle glycogen stores, the recovery of liver glycogen stores can be accelerated by the co-ingestion of fructose with glucose-based carbohydrates. Three recent studies suggest this can extend time-to-exhaustion during endurance exercise tests. However, periodically restricting carbohydrate intakes during recovery from some training sessions to slow the recovery of liver and muscle glycogen stores may, over time, result in a modest increase in the ability to oxidize fat during exercise in a fasted state. Whether this periodized strategy translates into a performance advantage in the fed state remains to be clearly demonstrated.

SUMMARY: To maximize recovery of glycogen stores and the capacity to perform in subsequent endurance exercise, athletes should consider ingesting at least 1.2 g carbohydrate per kilogram body mass per hour - for the first few hours of recovery - as a mixture of fructose and glucose-based carbohydrates. However, if a goal is increased capacity for fat oxidation, athletes should consider restricting carbohydrate intakes during recovery from some key training sessions.


Bibliographic note

Publisher Copyright: Copyright © 2021 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)364-371
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care
Issue number4
Early online date10 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2021


  • fructose, glucose, glycogen, metabolism, nutrition