a1 Brain, Performance and Nutrition Research Centre, School of Life Sciences, Northumbria University, Northumberland Building, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE1 8ST, UK
The enhancement of fat oxidation during exercise is an aim for both recreational exercising individuals and endurance athletes. Nutritional status may explain a large part of the variation in maximal rates of fat oxidation during exercise. This review reveals novel insights into nutritional manipulation of substrate selection during exercise, explaining putative mechanisms of action and evaluating the current evidence. Lowering the glycaemic index of the pre-exercise meal can enhance lipid utilisation by up to 100 % through reduced insulin concentrations, although its application may be restricted to specific training sessions rather than competition. Chronic effects of dietary glycaemic index are less clear and warrant future study before firm recommendations can be made. A flurry of recent advances has overthrown the conventional view of l-carnitine supplementation, with skeletal muscle uptake possible under certain dietary conditions and providing a strategy to influence energy metabolism in an exercise intensity-dependent manner. Use of non-carbohydrate nutrients to stimulate muscle l-carnitine uptake may prove more beneficial for optimising lipid utilisation, but this requires more research. Studies investigating fish oil supplementation on fat oxidation during exercise are conflicting. In spite of some strong putative mechanisms, the only crossover trial showed no significant effect on lipid use during exercise. Ca may increase NEFA availability although it is not clear whether these effects occur. Ca and caffeine can increase NEFA availability under certain circumstances which could theoretically enhance fat oxidation, yet strong experimental evidence for this effect during exercise is lacking. Co-administration of nutrients to maximise their effectiveness needs further investigation.
(Received June 07 2011)
(Revised October 13 2011)
(Accepted November 06 2011)
(Online publication December 05 2011)
Abbreviations: BM, body mass; calcitriol, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3; HGI, high glycaemic index; LGI, low glycaemic index; PTH, parathyroid hormone