Journal of Applied Physiology

Menstrual cycle phase dissociation of blood glucose homeostasis during exercise

J. M. Lavoie, N. Dionne, R. Helie, G. R. Brisson


The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the effects of 24-h carbohydrate-poor diet on metabolic and hormonal responses induced by prolonged exercise in both follicular (FP) and luteal (LP) phases of the menstrual cycle. At mid-FP and at mid-LP, seven eumenorrheic young women [means +/- SE; chronological age, 21.1 +/- 0.6 yr; O2 uptake (VO2) peak, 43.7 +/- 2.0 ml X kg-1 X min-1; body fat, 19.2 +/- 2.0%] were subjected to a 90-min bicycle exercise period at an intensity representing 63% of their measured VO2 peak. Venous blood samples obtained before and during exercise were analyzed for levels of substrates (glucose, lactate, free fatty acids, glycerol) and hormones (luteinizing hormone, progesterone, estradiol, insulin, glucagon, cortisol, catecholamines). Contrary to FP, a significant (P less than 0.01) decrease in blood glucose concentration was observed after 70 and 90 min of exercise during LP. Significant phase differences were also observed for blood lactate (highest in FP), cortisol (highest in LP), and progesterone (highest in LP). Although not significantly different, tendencies for menstrual phase dissociations were noticed for some of the other measured variables. Hence, a menstrual phase dissociation in circulating glucose level, unmasked by a prolonged exercise performed after a 24-h carbohydrate-poor diet, suggests to the authors a specific metabolic involvement for gonadotrophic and/or gonadal hormones.