Acute Carbohydrate Consumption On The Iron-regulatory Response To Exercise In Elite Keto-adapted Endurance Athletes

No Thumbnail Available
File version
Mckay, Alannah KA
Peeling, Peter
Pyne, David B
Welvaert, Marijke
Tee, Nicolin
Leckey, Jill J
Sharma, Avish P
Ross, Megan LR
Garvican-Lewis, Laura A
van Swelm, Rachel PL
Laarakkers, Coby M
Burke, Lousie M
Griffith University Author(s)
Primary Supervisor
Other Supervisors
File type(s)

Orlando, FL, USA


PURPOSE: To investigate the impact of CHO re-introduction in athletes previously adapted to a LCHF diet on subsequent inflammatory and hepcidin responses to exercise.

METHODS: In the three weeks prior to the exercise trials, twenty-three elite race walkers adhered to either a CHO-rich (n=14) or LCHF diet (n=9). A 19-25 km race walking protocol was performed while the race walkers were still adhering to their allocated dietary intervention (Adapt). A second exercise test was performed three days later, where the LCHF consumed CHO 2 h prior to, and during the exercise protocol (in line with sports nutrition guidelines) for the first time in 3.5 weeks (CHO Restoration). Venous blood samples were collected pre-, post- and 3 h post-exercise and analysed for serum ferritin, interleukin-6 (IL-6) and hepcidin-25.

RESULTS: Serum ferritin concentration was similar between trials (p=0.48) and dietary groups (p=0.93). The post-exercise IL-6 increase was greater in LCHF (p<0.001) during both Adapt (LCHF: 13.1-fold increase; CHO: 8.0-fold increase) and CHO Restoration (LCHF: 18.5-fold increase, CHO: 6.3-fold increase); outcomes were not different between trials (p=0.84). Hepcidin-25 levels increased 3 h post-exercise (p<0.001), however, they did not differ between trials (p=0.46) or diets (p=0.84).

CONCLUSIONS: Strenuous exercise undertaken following chronic adaptation to a LCHF diet is associated with a greater post-exercise IL-6 response than when exercise is undertaken with high CHO availability. The elevated IL-6 response in athletes adapted to a LCHF diet is not attenuated by an acute increase in exogenous CHO availability. Despite diet-induced differences in IL-6 responses, no differences in hepcidin levels were evident, suggesting IL-6 is likely not the primary factor determining the magnitude of post-exercise hepcidin levels. Baseline iron status may be a more dominant factor regulating this response. Increased IL-6 levels may negatively influence other body processes, and the long-term impact of adhering to LCHF on other health outcomes warrants further investigation.

Journal Title
Conference Title

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise

Book Title




Thesis Type
Degree Program
Publisher link
Patent number
Grant identifier(s)
Rights Statement
Rights Statement
Item Access Status
Access the data
Related item(s)

Sports science and exercise

Medical physiology

Science & Technology

Life Sciences & Biomedicine

Sport Sciences

Persistent link to this record

Mckay, AKA; Peeling, P; Pyne, DB; Welvaert, M; Tee, N; Leckey, JJ; Sharma, AP; Ross, MLR; Garvican-Lewis, LA; van Swelm, RPL; Laarakkers, CM; Burke, LM, Acute Carbohydrate Consumption On The Iron-regulatory Response To Exercise In Elite Keto-adapted Endurance Athletes, Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2019, 51 (6), pp. 771-771