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Carbohydrate ingestion during prolonged running exercise results in an increase of serum cortisol and decrease of gonadotropins


, : Carbohydrate ingestion during prolonged running exercise results in an increase of serum cortisol and decrease of gonadotropins. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica 141(3): 373-378

We tested the hypothesis that improved availability of energy through carbohydrate ingestion could counteract the documented suppression of pituitary-gonadal function during prolonged exercise. Nine trained males repeated twice a 36 kilometer running exercise with two weeks interval. During the tests the subjects ingested in a randomized single-blind fashion a total of 1050 milliliters of carbohydrate and placebo solutions. The total amount of ingested carbohydrate was 105 grammes. Venous blood samples were taken before the exercise (sample A), immediately after exercise (B), and 2 hours later (C). In the B samples plasma glucose was 14% higher (P < 0.01) and serum cortisol 13% higher (P < 0.05) in the carbohydrate than in the control trial. In contrast, the level of LH was 18% (P < 0.05) and that of FSH 11% lower (P < 0.05) in the carbohydrate than in the placebo trial. Serum testosterone concentration did not differ between the treatment groups. We conclude that carbohydrate ingestion does not counteract the exercise-associated suppression of gonadotrophin secretion, but results in paradoxical increase of serum cortisol and decrease of LH and FSH, in comparison to placebo-treated controls. The higher cortisol level in carbohydrate group may be secondary to higher insulin levels.

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