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Carbohydrate is stored as glucose in the liver and muscles and is the most efficient source of energy as it requires less oxygen to be burnt than either protein or fat. The normal body stores of carbohydrate in a typical athlete are:

  • 70kg male athlete - Liver glycogen 90g and muscle glycogen 400g
  • 60kg female athlete - Liver glycogen 70g and muscle glycogen 300g.

During hard exercise, carbohydrate can be depleted at a rate of 3-4 grams per minute. If this is sustained for 2 hours or more, a very large fraction of the total body carbohydrate stores will be exhausted and if not checked will result in reduced performance. Recovery of the muscle and liver glycogen stores after exercise will normally require 24-48 hours for complete recovery.

During exercise, there is in an increased uptake of blood glucose by the muscles and to prevent blood glucose levels falling the liver produces glucose from the liver stores and lactate.

Consuming carbohydrate before, during and after exercise will help prevent blood glucose levels falling too low and help maintain the body's glycogen stores. Many athletes cannot consume food before or during exercise and therefore a formulated drink that will provide carbohydrate is required.

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