In 2009, a study was published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition which tested the hypothesis that supplementation with galactose before and during endurance exercise would spare carbohydrate (CHO), optimize fat utilization and improve performance compared with a typical sports drink formulation.
Nine well-trained cyclists undertook three trials, each consisting of 120 min at 65 VO(2max) followed immediately by a set work, self-paced time trial (TT). Three treatments, allocated as a randomized balanced design, consisted of the following: (a) 8% (w/w) solution of galactose (Gal); (b) 8% solution of 50% galactose/50% glucose (Gluc/Gal); and (c) 8% solution of 80% glucose/20% fructose (Gluc/Fru). These were consumed as 0.67 g CHO per kg body wt 45-min pre-exercise; 1.0 g CHO per kg body wt per h for the first 120 min of exercise; 0.33 g CHO per kg body wt during the TT. Blood samples were collected before and during exercise; respiratory gas samples were collected only during fixed workload exercise.
Mean TT power output was significantly less in Gal compared with Gluc/Gal (P=0.030). Blood glucose and insulin concentrations were lower, and free fatty acids higher in Gal compared with Gluc/Gal and Gluc/Fru. Respiratory exchange ratio was not significantly different between trials.
CONCLUSIONS: Ingestion of an 8% galactose-only solution (12.5 ml per kg body wt per h) is detrimental to endurance performance compared with equivalent volumes of iso-osmotic solutions containing 50% galactose/50% glucose or 80% glucose/20% fructose. This may reflect the inability of the liver to convert galactose into glucose at a rate required to support strenuous exercise intensity.