Physical training affects carbohydrate metabolism and results in an increased insulin-stimulated glucose disposal. To investigate if carbohydrate and lipid metabolism would be affected by nutritional factors in optimally trained elite athletes, during a 1-year period we studied elite ice-hockey players on two Swedish top-performance teams. Players on one team were subjected to extensive dietary monitoring and intervention, whereas players on the second team continued their ordinary diet. Blood levels of insulin, C- peptide, glucose, hemoglobin A(1c) (HbA(1c)), lipids, and lipoproteins were measured repeatedly. Basal insulin levels and insulin resistance (IR) were significantly lower among athletes on both teams compared with a sedentary group, and muscle weight and body mass index were significantly higher. During the course of the study in the intervention group, insulin levels decreased (3.6 ± 0.3 v 6.2 ± 0.6 [mean ± SEM], P < .05) in conjunction with a decreased relative fat energy content, but returned toward baseline levels when relative fat energy content increased. IR decreased in parallel (0.59 ± 0.05 v 1.12 ± 0.12, P < .05) and followed a similar pattern, reverting toward baseline levels. Also, levels of HbA(1c) changed during dietary manipulation. No changes in these parameters were observed among the elite players from the team not participating in the diet regimen. In contrast to the parameters for glucose homeostasis, no significant changes were found in serum lipid or lipoprotein levels in either team during the course of the study. The results verify the presence of an improved carbohydrate metabolism in elite athletes. The observed changes in glycemic control and glucose homeostasis as a consequence of dietary modification demonstrate further that nutritional factors may affect carbohydrate metabolism also in well-trained athletes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism