Self-control exertion and glucose supplementation prior to endurance performance

Ruth Boat, Ian, M Taylor, Carl, J Hulston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Completion of a task requiring self-control may negatively impact on subsequent self-regulatory efforts. This study explored a) whether this effect occurs during a well-practiced endurance task, b) the potential for glucose supplementation to moderate this effect, and c) whether this effect
differed over time.
Method: Fourteen trained cyclists completed four simulated 16 km time trials on an electromagnetically braked cycle ergometer. Prior to each time trial, participants completed a congruent Stroop task or an incongruent Stroop task that required self-control. They also received either a glucose-based drink or
placebo. Participants' performance time and heart rate were recorded throughout the time trials.
Results: Multilevel growth curve analysis revealed a significant three-way interaction between selfcontrol, glucose, and time (b ¼ 0.91; p ¼ 0.02). When participants did not exert self-control (congruent Stroop) or consume glucose (placebo drink) they were slowest during the early stages of the time trial but quickest over the full distance. No differences were found in heart rate across the four conditions.
Conclusions: Findings suggest that pacing may explain why self-control exertion interferes with endurance performance. Moreover, the debate revolving around depletion of self-control must consider that any observed effects may be dependent on the timing of performance inspection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-110
Number of pages8
JournalPsychology of Sport and Exercise
Early online date26 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


  • Growth models
  • Cycling
  • Self-regulation
  • Ego depletion


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