Skip to main content
  • Poster presentation
  • Open access
  • Published:

Effect of post-exercise ingestion of different molecular weight carbohydrate solutions. Part 1: The glucose and insulin response


Post-exercise ingestion of a high molecular weight (HMW) carbohydrate (CHO) solution has been shown to result in greater rates of muscle glycogen synthesis, attributed, in part, to the higher rates of gastric emptying compared to a low molecular weight (LMW) CHO solution. Given the higher rate of gastric emptying, a more rapid rise of glucose and insulin would be expected. However, differences have been reported in the pattern and time course of the subsequent insulin and glucose responses following ingestion. These differences have been attributed to timing and technique (venous vs. arterialized venous) of blood sampling. Thus, the current study sought to examine differences in the glucose, insulin, and glucagon response to post-exercise ingestion of a HMW and LMW CHO solution.


Sixteen resistance trained men (mean±SD; 23 ± 3 years; 176.7 ± 9.8cm; 88.2 ± 8.6kg; 12.1 ± 5.6% fat) participated in this double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized crossover study, which consisted of three testing sessions, each separated by one week. VO2 max (37.4 ± 4.3 ml·kg·min-1) was determined prior to testing session 1. In sessions 1-3, subjects completed a glycogen depleting cycling bout of 60 minutes at 70% VO2 max, followed by six, one-minute sprints at 120% VO2 max. Immediately post-exercise subjects ingested a placebo (PLA), or a LMW or HMW CHO solution (10%) providing 1.2kg· bw-1 CHO; assigned randomly. Blood was sampled prior to ingestion and every ten minutes for 120 minutes post-ingestion. A two-factor repeated measures ANOVA was used to determine differences among treatments (p ≤ 0.05).


Post-exercise ingestion of the LMW and HMW CHO solutions caused an increase in plasma glucose and insulin at 10 minutes. Glucose remained elevated in LMW until 60 minutes; and 70 minutes in HMW. The difference between HMW and LMW at that time approached significance (LMW, 4.7 ± 0.3mmol · L-1; HMW, 5.2 ± 0.3mmol · L-1; p = 0.086). Insulin remained elevated throughout blood sampling. Peak plasma insulin occurred at 40 minutes (LMW, 50.0 ± 7.1 µIU· L-1; HMW, 49.8 ± 8.3 µIU · L-1). Plasma glucagon declined following CHO ingestion with a more rapid difference following LMW (20 minutes) than HMW (30 minutes) CHO solution. However, no differences were noted between CHO treatments. Glucagon achieved a peak value of 38.7 ± 5.5ng·L-1 after ingestion of the PLA, while the lowest values observed following ingestion of the LMW and HMW CHO solutions were 12.0 ± 1.7ng·L-1 and 11.5 ± 1.4ng·L-1, respectively.


These data suggest that when venous blood is sampled, ingestion of HMW and LMW CHO solutions providing 1.2kg· bw-1 CHO result in similar responses in glucose, insulin, and glucagon. Further study is needed to determine the effect on subsequent performance.


This work was supported in part by Vitargo Global Sciences, LLC.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Almada, A.L., Van Eck, L.E., Shah, M. et al. Effect of post-exercise ingestion of different molecular weight carbohydrate solutions. Part 1: The glucose and insulin response. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 12 (Suppl 1), P30 (2015).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • DOI: