Low carbohydrate, high fat diet impairs exercise economy and negates the performance benefit from intensified training in elite race walkers
We examined the time course of metabolic adaptations to 15 days of a high-fat diet (HFD). Sixteen endurance-trained cyclists were assigned randomly to a control (CON) group, who consumed their habitual diet (30% +/- 8% mJ fat), or a HFD group, who consumed a high-fat isocaloric diet (69% +/- 1% mJ fat). At 5-day intervals, the subjects underwent an oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT); on the next day, they performed a 2.5-hour constant-load ride at 70% peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak), followed by a simulated 40-km cycling time-trial while ingesting a 10% 14C-glucose + 3.44% medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) emulsion at a rate of 600 mL/h. In the OGTT, plasma glucose concentrations at 30 minutes increased significantly after 5 days of the HFD and remained elevated at days 10 and 15 versus the levels measured prior to the HFD (P < .05). The activity of carnitine acyltransferase (CAT) in biopsies of the vastus lateralis muscle also increased from 0.45 to 0.54 micromol/g/min over days 0 to 10 of the HFD (P < .01) without any change in citrate synthase (CS) or 3-hydroxyacyl-coenzyme A dehydrogenase (3-HAD) activities. Changes in glucose tolerance and CAT activity were associated with a shift from carbohydrate (CHO) to fat oxidation during exercise (P < .001), which occurred within 5 to 10 days of the HFD. During the constant-load ride, the calculated oxidation of muscle glycogen was reduced from 1.5 to 1.0 g/min (P < .001) after 15 days of the HFD. Ingestion of a HFD for as little as 5 to 10 days significantly altered substrate utilization during submaximal exercise but did not attenuate the 40-km time-trial performance.