To highlight emerging evidence challenging traditional recommendations to increase carbohydrate intake to optimize performance at high altitude.
Several studies have now clearly demonstrated that, compared with sea level, exogenous carbohydrate oxidation during aerobic exercise is blunted in lowlanders during initial exposure to high altitude. There is also no apparent ergogenic effect of ingesting carbohydrate during aerobic exercise on subsequent performance at high altitude, either initially after arriving or even after up to 22 days of acclimatization. The inability to oxidize and functionally benefit from exogenous carbohydrate intake during exercise after arriving at high altitude coincides with hyperinsulinemia, accelerated glycogenolysis, and reduced peripheral glucose uptake. Collectively, these responses are consistent with a hypoxia-mediated metabolic dysregulation reflective of insulin resistance. Parallel lines of evidence have also recently demonstrated roles for the gut microbiome in host metabolism, bioenergetics, and physiologic responses to high altitude, implicating the gut microbiome as one potential mediator of hypoxia-mediated metabolic dysregulation.
Identification of novel and well tolerated nutrition and/or pharmacological approaches for alleviating hypoxia-mediated metabolic dysregulation and enhancing exogenous carbohydrate oxidation may be more effective for optimizing performance of lowlanders newly arrived at high altitude than traditional carbohydrate recommendations.

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