Title page for ETD etd-10232012-160012

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Swart, Irne
URN etd-10232012-160012
Document Title The effect of MCT + CHO + l-carnitine supplementation on the performance and metabolic responses of marathon athletes
Degree MSc
Department Physiology
Advisor Name Title
Dr J Rossouw Co-Supervisor
Prof M E Kruger Supervisor
  • endurance exercise
  • carbohydrate reserves
  • nutrition and energy intakes
Date 1996-04-12
Availability unrestricted
Endurance athletes have long benefited from ingesting carbohydrates prior to, and during endurance events. Fatigue during endurance exercise has repeatedly been associated with the depletion, or reduction, of bodily carbohydrate reserves. The improved endurance capability observed after aerobic training has, however, been attributed to the increased oxidation of fat relative to carbohydrate, thereby having a 'carbohydrate sparing" effect and thus delaying the point at which reduced carbohydrate reserves will cause fatigue. This study was therefore designed to investigate the effects of medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) and carbohydrate (CHO) supplementation, on the performance and metabolic parameters of nine male marathon athletes. These results were then statistically compared to the effects of adding L-carnitine to the MCT and CHO supplement, on the same parameters. Metabolic parameters included nutritional status evaluations, serum organic acid profiles (non-esterified fatty acid and L-lactate profiles), and plasma carnitine determinations. Performance was measured in terms of peak treadmill running speed, V02 max, respiratory exchange ratios, heart rates, vco2 and vo2 data during progressive treadmill exercise tests. Nutrition and energy intakes were recorded during the study, as well as record kept of the athlete's training programmes. At the end of each supplementation period, a standard marathon was included in the experimental design, in order to practically validate controlled laboratory results.

The main findings of this study included the identification of two athletes as 'fat burners'~ Non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) profiles indicated that they predominantly relied on fatty acid oxidation during exercise, after MCT supplementation. The latter presumably because of adaptive changes in their metabolism, enabling them to benefit from MCT supplementation. In spite of the majority of athletes relying on carbohydrate metabolism during exercise, the addition of L-carnitine to the MCT and CHO supplement, induced a shift towards lipid metabolism; evident from RER and VC02 data, as well as the majority of athletes improving their performance. The observed shift was slight; the latter being ascribed to the relatively small dose of L-carnitine (compared to previous studies) included in the supplement. However, L-carnitine was incorporated into a palatable, liquid MCT and CHO supplement, and not merely administered in the form of a pharmacological dose.

A major, and extremely unexpected finding, was the presumed effect that the winter, and continuous cold exposure, had on plasma carnitine levels. Plasma carnitine levels decreased significantly, without any intervention, prior to the start of the second trial period, which stretched over the middle of winter. Despite carnitine supplementation, plasma carnitine levels still decreased. This occurrence most certainly influenced results; the shift towards lipid metabolism would presumably have been more pronounced, had the 'Winter factor' not come into play.

1996 University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Swart, I 1996, The effect of MCT + CHO + l-carnitine supplementation on the performance and metabolic responses of marathon athletes, MSc dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-10232012-160012/ >


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