Date of this Version
Published in British Journal of Sports Medicine 49:23 (December 2015), p. 1542; doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2015-095038
The contention from Malhotra et al1 regarding the unimportance of carbohydrate for exercise is misguided. First, the reference they provide is an editorial2 that should not be viewed as high-quality evidence. Several oft-cited exercise studies showing benefits with high-fat diets simultaneously utilized carbohydrate restoration strategies,3 which involves “carbohydrate loading” after a high-fat diet. Thus, the evidence provided does not contradict the established belief that carbohydrate is an important fuel for endurance exercise. Second, the authors’ use of the term “carbohydrate loading” is misleading in this context. No public health organizations advocate a diet containing carbohydrate in amounts used in “carbohydrate loading” studies (often 10 g/kg of body weight).4 Indeed, the authors should not confuse public health recommendations to eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains with “carbohydrate loading” strategies. Finally, their statement that “fat … appears to be the ideal fuel for most exercise” is overly-simplistic and, again, is only supported by a referenced editorial.1 Ample evidence exists showing the importance of carbohydrate for high-intensity and intermittent exercise,5 activities commonly engaged in by athletes as well as the public.