FindAPhD Weekly PhD Newsletter | JOIN NOW FindAPhD Weekly PhD Newsletter | JOIN NOW

Optimising carbohydrate intake for performance and health in endurance athletes

   School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences

About the Project

Loughborough University is a top-ten rated university in England for research intensity (REF, 2014) and an outstanding 66% of the work of Loughborough’s academic staff who were eligible to be submitted to the REF was judged as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, compared to a national average figure of 43%.

In choosing Loughborough for your research, you’ll work alongside academics who are leaders in their field. You will benefit from comprehensive support and guidance from our Doctoral College, including tailored careers advice, to help you succeed in your research and future career. Find out more.


Full-time: 3 years

Part-time: 6 years

Start dates: April 2022, July 2022, October 2022

It is well established that carbohydrate intake is beneficial to endurance exercise performance. Central to the delivery and utilisation of carbohydrate is the gastrointestinal system. For many athletes the gastrointestinal system can be limiting due to symptoms of discomfort, reduced gastric emptying and/ or reduced intestinal absorption. Often carbohydrate intake strategies can exacerbate these issues and therefore optimisation of feeding strategies both before and during exercise, through training and/ or nutritional intervention may be of benefit. Recently, there has been growing evidence to suggest that this is possible by ‘training the gut’.

This exciting PhD will utilise a variety of investigative techniques to increase understanding of the gastrointestinal system identifying optimal carbohydrate delivery strategies before and during exercise. Working in collaboration with the supervisory team, the successful candidate will undertake a series of studies manipulating carbohydrate intake to understand metabolism and exercise performance. The proposed work will be conducted in endurance athletes (primarily runners and cyclists) simulating training scenarios and high-intensity performance conditions. In addition, there will be focus on how acute and chronic ingestion of carbohydrate supplementation, in combination with fluid balance, impact markers of gastrointestinal health and kidney function. The proposed work package will be a combination of acute nutritional interventions and longer-term training effects.


Primary supervisor: Dr Stephen Mears

Secondary supervisor: Dr Lewis James


Our entry requirements are listed using standard UK undergraduate degree classifications i.e. first-class honours, upper second-class honours and lower second-class honours.

Entry requirements for United Kingdom

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 Honours degree (or equivalent) in sport and exercise science, human nutrition, human physiology, biochemistry, food science or a related subject. A relevant Master’s degree and/or experience in one or more of the above subjects will be an advantage.

It is also desirable that applicants have the following skills / experiences:

  • A passion for understanding the interaction between nutrition and exercise
  • Experience of conducting exercise and/or nutrition research studies
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • A keen interest for endurance sport (particularly cycling and/or running)

English language requirements

Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Further details are available on the International website.

Find out more about research degree funding


All applications should be made online. Under programme name, select 'Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences'. Please quote the advertised reference number SSEHS/SAM in your application. To avoid delays in processing your application please ensure that you submit the minimum supporting documents.

Apply now

Funding Notes

UK FEE: £4,500 - Full-time degree per annum
INTERNATIONAL FEE: £24,100 - Full-time degree per annum
Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching, assessment and operating University facilities such as the library, IT equipment and other support services. University fees and charges can be paid in advance and there are several methods of payment, including online payments and payment by instalment. Fees are reviewed annually and are likely to increase to take into account inflationary pressures.

Email Now

Search Suggestions
Search suggestions

Based on your current searches we recommend the following search filters.

PhD saved successfully
View saved PhDs