Rapid orocecal transit in chronically active persons with high energy intake

A. Harris, A. K. Lindeman, B. J. Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations


Although chronic physical activity by humans can raise energy requirements and energy intake severalfold above sedentary levels, whether these increases alter digestive strategy remains unknown. To investigate this possibility, food passage rate (mouth-to-large intestinal lactulose transit) and absorption (xylose) were compared in a cross section of young men chosen to represent a wide range of daily physical activity and food intake. In 20 men (energy intake 1,272-5,342 kcal/day), resting mouth-to-cecum transit was faster in high caloric consumers (r = -0.69, P < 0.01). In contrast, xylose absorption (n = 26; measured either as urinary xylose excretion or integrated breath H2 production from the sugar) was unrelated to food intake. Dietary fiber intake was uncorrelated with energy intake. This apparent human digestive strategy of rapid transit across the gut absorptive surface, without a sacrifice in absorption, parallels the adaptations made by several animal species similarly faced with increased energy demand at constant fiber intake. We therefore conclude that the hyperphagia of chronic exercise in humans may be linked with significant gastrointestinal adaptations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1550-1553
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1991


  • exertion
  • gastrointestinal motility
  • xylose

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Physiology
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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