Previous studies have reported a meal-induced rise in hepatic glycogen stores from baseline levels following a fast and it is generally assumed that glycogen levels rise steadily following meals throughout the day. However, measurements are normally taken in conditions that are not typical of the Western breakfast, which is relatively carbohydrate rich with a lower calorific content than most experimental test meals. As such, little is known about the normal metabolic response to a realistic, low calorie morning meal. Therefore, the aim of this pilot study was to evaluate the effects of a low dose oral glucose intake on hepatic glycogen levels following an overnight fast in healthy subjects. Glycogen levels were monitored in vivo using 13C Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy at baseline and hourly for 4 hours following either a 50 g glucose drink (773 kJ) or a control drink (0 kJ) given over two different visits. During the control visit hepatic glycogen levels decreased throughout the experiment with statistically significant decreases from baseline at 190 minutes (P < 0.05) and 250 minutes (P < 0.05). By contrast, the low dose glucose intake maintained glycogen concentrations with no significant decrease from baseline over 4 hours. A comparison between visits revealed that mean glycogen concentrations were significantly greater during the glucose visit (control visit, AUC = 218 ± 39 mol L−1 min−1; glucose visit, AUC = 305 ± 49 mol L−1 min−1; P < 0.05). Liver volume decreased significantly from baseline at 180 minutes (P < 0.05) post consumption in both groups, with no significant difference found between visits. Gastric content volumes were significantly higher for the glucose visit immediately following consumption (P < 0.001) and at 60 minutes (P = 0.007) indicating slower gastric emptying for the glucose compared with the control. In conclusion, following an overnight fast, a low dose oral glucose challenge prevents a reduction in hepatic glycogen content but does not increase it above fasted levels.
Bawden, S., Stephenson, M., Ciampi, E., Hunter, K., Marciani, L., Spiller, R., …Gowland, P. (2014). A low calorie morning meal prevents the decline of hepatic glycogen stores: a pilot in vivo 13C magnetic resonance study. Food and Function, 5(9), 2237-2242. https://doi.org/10.1039/c4fo00050a