Research at Leeds Beckett
Professor Roderick King
About Professor Roderick King
Roderick holds a lifelong research interest in human biochemistry and metabolism and its relationship with normal health, exercise and nutrition. He is especially interested in substrate metabolism and its relationship to body composition and sport performance. The focus of his activities is specifically the science of sport and exercise and its relationship with performance and health (viz. the importance of energy and hydration during exercise). His involvement in clinical nutrition, specifically on carbohydrate provision, led to the interest in ergogenic aids for sports performance, especially the use of carbohydrate/electrolyte solutions for endurance. Currently he leads research with colleagues and post graduates on the metabolism of glucose, galactose and fructose as energy substrates to be used in the formulation of sports drinks and directs post graduates in this area. In addition he retains interest in obesity and lipids within the Leeds Weight Loss Camp.
These research areas are linked by common pathways of fuel utilisation and storage involving metabolism of carbohydrates into glycogen and their subsequent use. In the case of the athlete, insulin facilitates glucose disposal, glycogen formation and fat metabolism but in the obese individual and often in more sedentary individuals, where insulin resistance is dominant, both altered glucose disposal and dyslipidaemia ensue. Insulin sensitivity and its effects on carbohydrate metabolism and blood glucose concentration are central to hypotheses in these areas both in exercise and health and form a significant direction within his group and with colleagues.
Together with school colleagues, he has worked with several commercial organisations on nutrition (Cadbury Schweppes), on heat exposure and hydration (Fire Service) and on lipid metabolism (Pharmanutrients). Recent projects include carbohydrates and hydration (AG Barr, PhD Nutrition), milk products (Arla), energy (Fahrenheit 60), omega-3 fatty acids (Savant) and calcium (Principal Healthcare). He is also involved with the MOD on projects involving altitude stress with a view to delineate substrate utilisation and hydration under anoxic conditions.
Roderick has experience of commercialisation of sports drinks and is currently working on a recovery product to be used after exercise, EVO Drinks. A further development, Virtual Runner, is the application of physiology and biochemistry of running into an educational game and also a real time running app.
Lectures and Seminars on the following modules:
- Physiology and Biochemistry for Performance and Health (Masters), 'Biological Oxygen Engines'
- Ergogenic Practises (Masters), 'Hydration: Metabolic Solutions'.
- Sport and Exercise Nutrition (Masters), 'Fats'.
- Essentials of Exercise Physiology (Masters), 'Energy Systems: Early Events', 'Energy Systems: Later Events'. 'ATP and Energy Worksheet'.
- Nutritional Manipulation and Ergogenic Aids (UG L3), 'Lets Go with Glycogen'.
- 'Reactions to Biochemistry': Biochemical Analysis'.
Current research by Roderick King embraces carbohydrate metabolism and hydration as it relates to human sport performance including cycling and running. Not only is there a vibrant group of colleagues and postgraduates focused on this, but also valuable collaborations have been built up with other universities (Glasgow, Liverpool JM, Hatfield, Newcastle).The fundamental questions of just how much energy nutrition and fluid provision is required in the myriad scenarios in both solo and team sport remain to be elucidated accurately and with good precision. Thus his research is centralised around the use of common carbohydrates whereby 13C mass isotopes of carbon are used as tracers in such sugars. In this way it is possible to quantify the proportions of energy substrates used within the body and those supplied by sports drinks to establish efficacy and possible advantage. Together with assessments of fluid balance and hydration as well as subsequent capacity and endurance trials it is possible to defend or argue against the use of specific carbohydrate/electrolyte and fluid prescriptions. These trials include ones designed for athletes of different capabilities especially cyclists and also for those competing or working at altitude
Current research is focussed on glucose, galactose, fructose and maltodextrins, their energy metabolism and potential for glycogen formation in liver and muscle. Techniques involved include mass spectrometry for sugar identification and metabolism to carbon dioxide, MRI for whole body determination of glycogen in liver and leg muscle. The accurate assessment of fluid balance and hydration status forms an important part of the research and is accomplished by studies involving careful balance of all fluids gained or lost as well as determinations of sweat rates, sodium and potassium changes in sweat and plasma and urine osmolality.
The impact of this research is designed for new knowledge for benefit of the user and consumer as well as the public domain. This ranges from the amateur to the professional, from civilian to the military.