The human body is host to a multitude of bacteria, fungi, viruses and other species in the intestine, collectively known as the microbiota. Dietary carbohydrates which bypass digestion and absorption are broken down and fermented by the microbiota to produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Previous research has established the role of SCFAs in the control of human metabolic pathways. In this review, we evaluate SCFAs as a metabolic regulator and how they might improve endurance performance in athletes. By looking at research conducted in animal models, we identify several pathways downstream of SCFAs, either directly modulating metabolic pathways through second messenger pathways or through neuronal pathways, that contribute to energy utilisation. These pathways contribute to efficient energy metabolism and are thus key to maximising substrate utilisation in endurance exercise. Future research may prove the usefulness of targeted dietary interventions allowing athletes to maximise their performance in competition.
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Contributors Both authors have been conceiving the paper’s methodology, which has been executed by the first author under the supervision of the corresponding author. The paper has been written and revised by both authors.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.