“The Importance of Volume in Regulating Gastric Emptying,” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 23(3), 1991, © by American College of Sports Medicine. Adapted by permission.
The general accuracy of these predictions is indeed confirmed by the results of two recent studies. Ryan et al. (1989) reported a rate of gastric emptying in excess of 1 L/hr in subjects who drank 5 % glucose, glucose polymer, or glucose polymer/fructose solutions at rates of 350 ml every 20 minutes, similar to the drinking pattern proposed in Exercises 4.7b. In contrast, a rate of gastric emptying
Of only 460 ml/hr for a similar (6%) carbohydrate solution was reported by J.B. Mitchell et al. (1989) in subjects who ingested only 150 ml every 15 minutes.
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These calculations demonstrate two very important points. First, it is theoretically possible to ingest very large volumes of fluid during exercise if one drinks frequently and maintains a large gastric volume. This would explain why it is possible to develop water intoxication (hyponatremia) during exercise. Second, different drinking patterns can produce the same rates of carbohydrate delivery during exercise from solutions with quite different carbohydrate concentrations (compare total carbohydrate delivery from the 7 % carbohydrate solution in Exercises 4.7a with the 18% carbohydrate solution in Exercises 4.7b).
In summary, the critical practical relevance of this finding is that the maximum rate at which the carbohydrate and water content of an ingested solution can be delivered to the intestine is determined solely by the average volume of fluid the athlete will allow to have in his or her stomach during exercise. The greater the degree of gastric distension the athlete maintains during exercise, the more carbohydrate and water that will be delivered to the intestine regardless of the carbohydrate content of the ingested solution (Noakes et al, 1991b).
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