Carbohydrate Lowers Exercise Induced Stress

Also see:
Exercise Induced Stress
Low carb + intensive training = fall in testosterone levels
Tryptophan, Fatigue, Training, and Performance
Carbohydrate Lowers Free Tryptophan
Sugar (Sucrose) Restrains the Stress Response

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 Feb;38(2):286-92.
Effects of graded carbohydrate supplementation on the immune response in cycling.
Scharhag J, Meyer T, Auracher M, Gabriel HH, Kindermann W.
This study examined the acute immune response after three standardized cycling sessions of 4-h duration in the field with varying carbohydrate (CHO) supplementation in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled fashion. We hypothesized that the ingestion of carbohydrate (6 or 12% CHO beverages; placebo (P) without CHO) during exercise attenuates the exercise-induced immune response in a dose-dependent manner.
A total of 14 male competitive cyclists and triathletes (age: 25 +/- 5 yr; height: 180 +/- 7 cm; weight: 72 +/- 9 kg; VO2max: 67 +/- 6 mL.min(-1).kg(-1)) cycled for 4 h on a 400-m track at a given workload of 70% of the individual anaerobic threshold (198 +/- 21 W). Leukocyte and lymphocyte subpopulations were measured by flow cytometry before, immediately, and 1 and 19 h after exercise. In addition, C-reactive protein (CRP) interleukin 6 (IL-6), and cortisol were determined.
The exercise-induced increase in leukocytes, neutrophils, and monocytes was significantly attenuated to the same extent by 6 and 12% CHO (P < 0.001). No differences could be demonstrated for lymphocytes and natural killer cells. The increase in CRP was attenuated significantly by 12% CHO only (P < 0.05), whereas the increase in cortisol and IL-6 was significantly reduced by 6 and 12% CHO (P < 0.001). The postexercise neutrophilia, which dominated the exercise-induced leukocytosis, was strongly related to the postexercise concentration of cortisol (r = 0.72; P < 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Because of the lacking dose-dependent difference, the ingestion of at least 6% CHO beverages can sufficiently attenuate the exercise-induced immune response and stress, especially in phagocytizing cells (neutrophils and monocytes) by the reduced release of cortisol.

Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2005 Oct;15(5):465-79.
Influence of acute vitamin C and/or carbohydrate ingestion on hormonal, cytokine, and immune responses to prolonged exercise.
Davison G, Gleeson M.
The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of vitamin C with or without carbohydrate consumed acutely in beverages before and during prolonged cycling on immunoendocrine responses. In a single blind, randomized manner six healthy, moderately trained males exercised for 2.5 h at 60% VO(2max)and consumed either placebo (PLA), carbohydrate (CHO, 6% w/v), vitamin C (VC, 0.15% w/v) or CHO+VC beverages before and during the bouts; trials were separated by 1 wk. CHO and CHO+VC significantly blunted the post-exercise increase in plasma concentrations of cortisol, ACTH, total leukocyte, and neutrophil counts and limited the decrease in plasma glucose concentration and bacteria-stimulated neutrophil degranulation. VC increased plasma antioxidant capacity (PAC) during exercise (P < 0.05) but had no effect on any of the immunoendocrine responses (P > 0.05). CHO+VC increased PAC compared to CHO but had no greater effects,p above those observed with CHO alone, on any of the immunoendocrine responses. In conclusion, acute supplementation with a high dose of VC has little or no effect on the hormonal, interleukin-6, or immune response to prolonged exercise and combined ingestion of VC with CHO provides no additional effects compared with CHO alone.

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2000 Aug;32(8):1384-9.
Influence of carbohydrate on cytokine and phagocytic responses to 2 h of rowing.
Henson DA, Nieman DC, Nehlsen-Cannarella SL, Fagoaga OR, Shannon M, Bolton MR, Davis JM, Gaffney CT, Kelln WJ, Austin MD, Hjertman JM, Schilling BK.
This study examined the influence of carbohydrate (C) versus placebo (P) beverage ingestion on the phagocytic and cytokine responses to normal rowing training by 15 elite female rowers.
Athletes received C or P before, during and after, two, 2-h bouts of rowing performed on consecutive days. Blood was collected before and 5-10 min and 1.5 h after rowing. Metabolic measures indicated that training was performed at moderate intensities, with some high-intensity intervals interspersed throughout the sessions.
Concentrations of blood neutrophils and monocytes, phagocytic activity, and plasma IL-1ra were significantly lower postexercise after C versus P ingestion. No differences were observed for oxidative burst activity, IL-6, IL-8, or TNFalpha. Glucose was significantly higher after 2 h of rowing with C ingestion; however, cortisol, growth hormone, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and CRP were not affected by carbohydrate.
These data indicate that carbohydrate compared with placebo ingestion attenuated the moderate rise in blood neutrophils, monocytes, phagocytosis, and plasma IL-1ra concentrations that followed 2-h bouts of training in elite female rowers. No changes in blood hormone concentrations were found.

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5 Responses

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  1. ET says

    Thank you for posting these studies. Do you have a recommendation for the type of carbohydrate drink that is most suitable, or does it even matter? I like home made orange juice, which I think has around 9-11% carbohydrate, but others argue that a higher proportion of glucose would be beneficial (as opposed to a high fructose content).

  2. Team FPS says

    I often recommend consuming fresh orange juice with a little canning and pickling salt added. The sodium, magnesium, potassium, and sugars have a broad anti-stress effect. Dr. Peat mentioned the anti-stress effects of having some baking soda prior to exercise in his latest interview (Alkalinity v Acidity).

  3. ET says

    Dear Team FPS, Thank you so much for your answer. Much appreciated. I will try to experiment with a tiny bit of baking soda. Your masterlist of interviews is gold, thanks. Recommend you add a “subscribe to comments by email” function for blog posts.

  4. Team FPS says

    I am not sure how to add that function. If you can advise, I will consider adding the option. Thanks.