Sports Science: Fully Funded Swansea University MSc by Research: ‘Ultra-Run’

Swansea University MSc by Research Scholarship: ‘Ultra-Run’: Understanding the metabolic and physiological responses to ultra-endurance running on different glycemic impact diets

  • Beneo GmbH provides funding.
  • Sports and Exercise Sciences, Sports Nutrition, and Exercise Biochemistry are some of the topics covered.

Start date of the project:

  • October 1, 2022 (Enrollment begins in mid-September.)
  • Professor Richard Bracken ( and Dr Rachel Churm ( are the supervisors.

MSc by research in Sports Science is an aligned program of study.

  • Full-time study mode

Description of the project:

Ultramarathons have grown in popularity in recent years. Although providing exogenous carbohydrate to the liver and skeletal muscle is critical for maintaining ultraendurance performance, the differential rate of glycogen repletion in the liver and skeletal muscle is less studied in determining the impact on ultraendurance exercise. The carbohydrate type may be important in optimizing carbohydrate supply to the exercising athlete.

Although large amounts of multiple carbohydrate sources do not appear to affect skeletal muscle glycogen repletion rates differently, emerging literature supports a metabolic and ergogenic benefit of fructose-glucose carbohydrate sources over glucose polymers through improved post-exercise liver glycogen repletion (Moriarty et al., 1994, Casey et al., 2000, Fuchs et al., 2016, Decombaz et al., 2011). Isomaltulose (PalatinoseTM) is a sucrose isomer with an alpha-1,6 glycosidic bond between glucose and fructose as opposed to sucrose’s alpha-1,2 glycosidic bond. This reduces the hydrolysis rate to 20% -25% of that of sucrose (Gunther et al., 1998) and results in a glycemic index of 32.

When compared to different carbohydrate sources, emerging metabolic and physiological effects consistently show I reduced post-prandial glucose area under the curve, (ii) concomitantly lower peaks in blood glucose and insulin, (iii) conserved CHO oxidation, and (iv) rehydration. As a result, the research literature supports isomaltulose’s role as an important carbohydrate for endurance activities. The full metabolic potential for ingestion, however, has not been realized. In this ambitious study, isomaltulose will be compared to a maltodextrin in acute ultra-endurance exercise and, more broadly, in regular physical training.

Methods: In this randomised counter-balanced design, participants will be randomly assigned to either a low GI diet (containing isomaltulose) or a high GI diet (containing maltodextrin) for four weeks. During this phase, participants will go through a glycogen depletion protocol and be given each carbohydrate as an energetic repletion drink before attempting an acute running challenge.

Cardiovascular, glycemic, metabolic, stress hormone, and stress biomarkers will be discussed in depth. Training volumes, sleep, and nutrient intakes will also be determined.

The successful postgraduate student will join a high-performing team led by Professor Richard Bracken and Dr Rachel Churm.

We provide an excellent opportunity for them to learn more about energy metabolism and ultraendurance running.

Candidates must be competent in exercise physiology and biochemical techniques relevant to endurance exercise, as demonstrated by a 2:1 undergraduate degree (or Non-UK equivalent as defined by Swansea University) in Sports Science or a similar relevant science discipline. S

Candidates should also be able to demonstrate excellent teamwork skills and be highly ambitious in their pursuit of project success. Successful candidates will play an important role in ensuring that this project is completed on time, so they must be well-organized.

If applicable, IELTS 6.5 overall (with at least 5.5 in each individual component) or Swansea recognised equivalent is required.

Candidates of any nationality are eligible for this scholarship. Please keep in mind that this scholarship only covers UK tuition fees, so successful international candidates must cover the difference between UK and international tuition fees.

Benefits This scholarship covers the full cost of UK tuition fees as well as a £12,000 stipend.

Additional research funds will also be made available.

*Please keep in mind that this scholarship only covers UK tuition fees, so successful international candidates must cover the difference between UK and international tuition fees.

For more information, please see our website.

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