William O'Connor

Doctor of Philosophy, (Sport and Exercise)
Study Completed: 2017
College of Health


Thesis Title
Metabolic Flexibility and Endurance Performance

Metabolic flexibility describes the ability of the human metabolic system to quickly alter flux through the two main energy yielding pathways, namely fat and carbohydrate, in response to increased physiological demand such as that associated with endurance exercise. For many years the main research focus on the topic of providing energy for endurance athletes had been carbohydrate availability. However, the ability to use fat at times of low physiological demand can preserve an athlete’s carbohydrate for crucial moments of high physiological stress in a race or training session. By limiting an athlete's carbohydrate intake, Mr O’Connor was able to improve their metabolic flexibility and as a result improve their endurance performance and body composition. This was accomplished via an increase in the utilisation of stored body fat when carbohydrate was limited.

Professor Steve Stannard
Professor David Rowlands
Associate Professor Matthew Barnes