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Inside the Belly of a Beast: Individualizing Nutrition for Young, Professional Male Rugby League Players: A Review

Vincent G. Kelly, Liam S. Oliver, Joanna Bowtell, and David G. Jenkins

Professional rugby league (RL) football is a contact sport involving repeated collisions and high-intensity efforts; both training and competition involve high energy expenditure. The present review summarizes and critiques the available literature relating the physiological demands of RL to nutritional requirements and considers potential ergogenic supplements that could improve players’ physical capacity, health, and recovery during the preparatory and competition phases of a season. Although there may not be enough data to provide RL-specific recommendations, the available data suggest that players may require approximately 6–8 g·kg−1·day−1 carbohydrate, 1.6–2.6 g·kg−1·day−1 protein, and 0.7–2.2 g·kg−1·day−1 fat, provided that the latter also falls within 20–35% of total energy intake. Competition nutrition should maximize glycogen availability by consuming 1–4 g/kg carbohydrate (∼80–320 g) plus 0.25 g/kg (∼20–30 g) protein, 1–4 hr preexercise for 80–120 kg players. Carbohydrate intakes of approximately 80–180 g (1.0–1.5 g/kg) plus 20–67 g protein (0.25–0.55 g/kg) 0–2 hr postexercise will optimize glycogen resynthesis and muscle protein synthesis. Supplements that potentially improve performance, recovery, and adaptation include low to moderate dosages of caffeine (3–6 mg/kg) and ∼300 mg polyphenols consumed ∼1 hr preexercise, creatine monohydrate “loading” (0.3 g·kg−1·day−1) and/or maintenance (3–5 g/day), and beta-alanine (65–80 mg·kg−1·day−1). Future research should quantify energy expenditures in young, professional male RL players before constructing recommendations.

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Erratum: delli Paoli et al. (2020)

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Habitual Caffeine Consumption Does Not Affect the Ergogenicity of Coffee Ingestion During a 5 km Cycling Time Trial

Neil D. Clarke and Darren L. Richardson

There is growing evidence that caffeine and coffee ingestion prior to exercise provide similar ergogenic benefits. However, there has been a long-standing paradigm that habitual caffeine intake may influence the ergogenicity of caffeine supplementation. The aim of the present study was to investigate the effect of habitual caffeine intake on 5-km cycling time-trial performance following the ingestion of caffeinated coffee. Following institutional ethical approval, in a double-blind, randomized, crossover, placebo-controlled design, 46 recreationally active participants (27 men and 19 women) completed a 5-km cycling time trial on a cycle ergometer 60 m in following the ingestion of 0.09 g/kg coffee providing 3 mg/kg of caffeine, or a placebo. Habitual caffeine consumption was assessed using a caffeine consumption questionnaire with low habitual caffeine consumption defined as <3 and ≥6 mg · kg−1 · day−1 defined as high. An analysis of covariance using habitual caffeine intake as a covariant was performed to establish if habitual caffeine consumption had an impact on the ergogenic effect of coffee ingestion. Sixteen participants were classified as high-caffeine users and 30 as low. Ingesting caffeinated coffee improved 5-km cycling time-trial performance by 8 ± 12 s; 95% confidence interval (CI) [5, 13]; p < .001; d = 0.30, with low, 9±14 s; 95% CI [3, 14]; p = .002; d = 0.18, and high, 8 ± 10 s; 95% CI [−1, 17]; p = .008; d = 0.06, users improving by a similar magnitude, 95% CI [−12, 12]; p = .946; d = 0.08. In conclusion, habitual caffeine consumption did not affect the ergogenicity of coffee ingestion prior to a 5-km cycling time trial.

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Influence of Dietary Nitrate Supplementation on High-Intensity Intermittent Running Performance at Different Doses of Normobaric Hypoxia in Endurance-Trained Males

George P. Robinson, Sophie C. Killer, Zdravko Stoyanov, Harri Stephens, Luke Read, Lewis J. James, and Stephen J. Bailey

This study investigated whether supplementation with nitrate-rich beetroot juice (BR) can improve high-intensity intermittent running performance in trained males in normoxia and different doses of normobaric hypoxia. Eight endurance-trained males ( V ˙ O 2 peak , 62 ± 6 ml·kg−1·min−1) completed repeated 90 s intervals at 110% of peak treadmill velocity, from an initial step incremental test, interspersed by 60 s of passive recovery until exhaustion (T lim). Participants completed the first three experimental trials during days 3, 5, and 7 of BR or nitrate-depleted beetroot juice (PLA) supplementation and completed the remaining experimental visits on the alternative supplement following at least 7 days of washout. The fraction of inspired oxygen during visits 1–3 was either 0.209, 0.182, or 0.157, equivalent to an altitude of 0, 1,200, and 2,400 m, respectively, and this order was replicated on visits 4–6. Arterial oxygen saturation declined dose dependently as fraction of inspired oxygen was lowered (p < .05). Plasma nitrite concentration was higher pre- and postexercise after BR compared with PLA supplementation (p < .05). There was no difference in Tlim between PLA and BR at 0 m (445 [324, 508] and 410 [368, 548] s); 1,200 m (341 [270, 390] and 332 [314, 356] s); or 2,400 m (233 [177, 373] and 251 [221, 323] s) (median and [interquartile range]; p > .05). The findings from this study suggest that short-term BR supplementation does not improve high-intensity intermittent running performance in endurance-trained males in normoxia or at doses of normobaric hypoxia that correspond to altitudes at which athletes typically train while on altitude training camps.

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L-Arginine Improves Endurance to High-Intensity Interval Exercises in Overweight Men

Ali Daraei, Sajad Ahmadizad, Hiwa Rahmani, Anthony C. Hackney, Kelly E. Johnson, Ismail Laher, Ayoub Saeidi, and Hassane Zouhal

The effects of acute consumption of L-Arginine (L-Arg) in healthy young individuals are not clearly defined, and no studies on the effects of L-Arg in individuals with abnormal body mass index undertaking strenuous exercise exist. Thus, we examined whether supplementation with L-Arg diminishes cardiopulmonary exercise testing responses, such as ventilation (VE), VE/VCO2, oxygen uptake (VO2), and heart rate, in response to an acute session of high-intensity interval exercise (HIIE) in overweight men. A double-blind, randomized crossover design was used to study 30 overweight men (age, 26.5 ± 2.2 years; body weight, 88.2 ± 5.3 kilogram; body mass index, 28.0 ± 1.4 kg/m2). Participants first completed a ramped-treadmill exercise protocol to determine VO2max velocity (vVO2max), after which they participated in two sessions of HIIE. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either 6 g of L-Arg or placebo supplements. The HIIE treadmill running protocol consisted of 12 trials, including exercise at 100% of vVO2max for 1 min interspersed with recovery intervals of 40% of vVO2max for 2 min. Measurements of VO2 (ml·kg−1·min−1), VE (L/min), heart rate (beat per min), and VE/VCO2 were obtained. Supplementation with L-Arg significantly decreased all cardiorespiratory responses during HIIE (placebo+HIIE vs. L-Arg+HIIE for each measurement: VE [80.9 ± 4.3 L/min vs. 74.6 ± 3.5 L/min, p < .05, ES = 1.61], VE/VCO2 [26.4 ± 1.3 vs. 24.4 ± 1.0, p < .05, ES = 1.8], VO2 [26.4 ± 0.8 ml·kg−1·min−1 vs. 24.4 ± 0.9 ml·kg−1·min−1, p < .05, ES = 2.2], and heart rate [159.7 ± 6.3 beats/min vs. 155.0 ± 3.7 beats/min, p < .05, d = 0.89]). The authors conclude consuming L-Arg before HIIE can alleviate the excessive physiological strain resulting from HIIE and help to increase exercise tolerance in participants with a higher body mass index who may need to exercise on a regular basis for extended periods to improve their health.

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Quinine Ingestion During the Latter Stages of a 3,000-m Time Trial Fails to Improve Cycling Performance

Naroa Etxebarria, Brad Clark, Megan L. Ross, Timothy Hui, Roland Goecke, Ben Rattray, and Louise M. Burke

The ingestion of quinine, a bitter tastant, improves short-term (30 s) cycling performance, but it is unclear whether this effect can be integrated into the last effort of a longer race. The purpose of this study was to determine whether midtrial quinine ingestion improves 3,000-m cycling time-trial (TT) performance. Following three familiarization TTs, 12 well-trained male cyclists (mean ± SD: mass = 76.6 ± 9.2 kg, maximal aerobic power = 390 ± 50 W, maximal oxygen uptake = 4.7 ± 0.6 L/min) performed four experimental 3,000-m TTs on consecutive days. This double-blind, crossover design study had four randomized and counterbalanced conditions: (a) Quinine 1 (25-ml solution, 2 mM of quinine); (b) Quinine 2, replicate of Quinine 1; (c) a 25-ml sweet-tasting no-carbohydrate solution (Placebo); and (d) 25 ml of water (Control) consumed at the 1,850-m point of the TT. The participants completed a series of perceptual scales at the start and completion of all TTs, and the power output was monitored continuously throughout all trials. The power output for the last 1,000 m for all four conditions was similar: mean ± SD: Quinine 1 = 360 ± 63 W, Quinine 2 = 367 ± 63 W, Placebo = 364 ± 64 W, and Control = 367 ± 58 W. There were also no differences in the 3,000-m TT power output between conditions. The small perceptual differences between trials at specific 150-m splits were not explained by quinine intake. Ingesting 2 mM of quinine during the last stage of a 3,000-m TT did not improve cycling performance.

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Development of a “Cooling” Menthol Energy Gel for Endurance Athletes: Effect of Menthol Concentration on Acceptability and Preferences

Christopher J. Stevens, Megan L.R. Ross, and Roxanne M. Vogel

Menthol is effective at stimulating thermosensitive neurons that evoke pleasant cooling sensations. Internal application of menthol can be ergogenic for athletes, and hence, addition of menthol to sports nutrition products may be beneficial for athletes. The aim of this study was to develop a menthol energy gel for consumption during exercise and to determine acceptability and preferences for gels with different menthol concentrations. With a randomized, crossover, and double-blind placebo-controlled design, 40 endurance athletes (20 females) ingested an energy gel with a menthol additive at a high (0.5%; HIGH) or low concentration (0.1%; LOW), or a mint-flavored placebo (CON), on separate occasions during outdoor endurance training sessions. The athletes rated the gels for cooling sensation, mint flavor intensity, sweetness, and overall experience and provided feedback. Results are reported as median (interquartile range). Both menthol gels successfully delivered a cooling sensation, with a significantly greater response for HIGH (5.0 [4.0–5.0]) compared with LOW (3.5 [3.0–4.0]; p = .022) and CON (1.0 [1.0–2.0]; p < .0005), and LOW compared with CON (p < .0005). Ratings of mint flavor intensity followed the same trend as cooling sensation, while ratings of overall experience were significantly worse for HIGH (2.0 [1.0–3.0]) compared with LOW (4.0 [2.0–4.0]; p = .001) and CON (4.0 [3.0–4.0]; p < .0005). An energy gel with the addition of menthol at 0.1–0.5% provides a cooling sensation for athletes with a dose–response when ingested during exercise. The 0.1% concentration is recommended to maximize the overall experience of the gel.

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Inspiratory Muscle Training on Glucose Control in Diabetes: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Mariana B. Pinto, Patrícia M. Bock, Andressa S.O. Schein, Juliana Portes, Raíssa B. Monteiro, and Beatriz D. Schaan

This study evaluated the effects of inspiratory muscle training (IMT) in glucose control and respiratory muscle function in patients with diabetes. It was a randomized clinical trial conducted at the Physiopathology Laboratory of the Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre. Patients with Type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to IMT or placebo-IMT (P-IMT), performed at 30% and 2% of maximal inspiratory pressure, respectively, every day for 12 weeks. The main outcome measures were HbA1c, glycemia, and respiratory muscle function. Thirty patients were included: 73.3% women, 59.6 ± 10.7 years old, HbA1c 8.7 ± 0.9% (71.6 ± 9.8 mmol/mol), and glycemia 181.8 ± 57.8 mg/dl (10.5 ± 3.2 mmol/L). At the end of the training, HbA1c was 8.2 ±0.3% (66.1 ± 3.3 mmol/mol) and 8.7 ± 0.3% (71.6 ± 3.3 mmol/mol) for the IMT and P-IMT groups, respectively (p = .8). Fasting glycemia decreased in both groups with no difference after training although it was lower in IMT at 8 weeks: 170.0 ± 11.4 mg/dl(9.4 ± 0.6 mmol/L) and 184.4 ± 15.0 mg/dl (10.2 ± 0.8 mmol/L) for IMT and P-IMT, respectively (p < .05). Respiratory endurance time improved in the IMT group (baseline = 325.9 ± 51.1 s and 305.0 ± 37.8 s; after 12 weeks = 441.1 ± 61.7 s and 250.7 ± 39.0 s for the IMT and P-IMT groups, respectively; p < .05). Considering that glucose control did not improve, IMT should not be used as an alternative to other types of exercise in diabetes. Higher exercise intensities or longer training periods might produce better results. The clinical trials identifier is NCT 03191435.

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Effects of Collagen Peptides on Recovery Following Eccentric Exercise in Resistance-Trained Males—A Pilot Study

Joel L. Prowting, Debra Bemben, Christopher D. Black, Eric A. Day, and Jason A. Campbell

The authors sought to determine whether consuming collagen peptides (CP) enhances musculoskeletal recovery of connective tissues following a damaging exercise bout. Resistance-trained males consumed 15 g/day of CP (n = 7) or placebo (n = 8), and after 7 days, maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC), countermovement jump height, soreness, and collagen turnover were examined. Five sets of 20 drop jumps were performed and outcome measures were collected 24, 48, and 120 hr postexercise. Countermovement jump height was maintained in the CP group at 24 hr (PRE = 39.9 ± 8.8 cm vs. 24 hr = 37.9 ± 8.9 cm, p = .102), whereas the CP group experienced a significant decline at 24 hr (PRE = 40.4 ± 7.9 cm vs. 24 hr = 35.5 ± 6.4 cm, p = .001; d = 0.32). In both groups, muscle soreness was significantly higher than PRE at 24 hr (p = .001) and 48 hr (p = .018) but not at 120 hr (p > .05). MVIC in both legs showed a significant time effect (left: p = .007; right: p = .010) over the 5-day postexercise period. Neither collagen biomarker changed significantly at any time point. CP supplementation attenuated performance decline 24 hr following muscle damage. Acute consumption of CP may provide a performance benefit the day following a bout of damaging exercise in resistance-trained males.

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No Effects of Different Doses of New Zealand Blackcurrant Extract on Cardiovascular Responses During Rest and Submaximal Exercise Across a Week in Trained Male Cyclists

Stefano Montanari, Mehmet A. Şahin, Ben J. Lee, Sam D. Blacker, and Mark E.T. Willems

Supplementation with anthocyanin-rich blackcurrant increases blood flow, cardiac output, and stroke volume at rest. It is not known whether cardiovascular responses can be replicated over longer timeframes in fed trained cyclists. In a randomized, double-blind, crossover design, 13 male trained cyclists (age 39 ± 10 years, V ˙ O 2 max 55.3 ± 6.7 ml·kg−1·min−1) consumed two doses of New Zealand blackcurrant (NZBC) extract (300 and 600 mg/day for 1 week). Cardiovascular parameters were measured during rest and submaximal cycling (65% V ˙ O 2 max ) on day 1 (D1), D4, and D7. Data were analyzed with an RM ANOVA using dose (placebo vs. 300 vs. 600 mg/day) by time point (D1, D4, and D7). Outcomes from placebo were averaged to determine the coefficient of variation within our experimental model, and 95% confidence interval (CI) was examined for differences between placebo and NZBC. There were no differences in cardiovascular responses at rest between conditions and between days. During submaximal exercise, no positive changes were observed on D1 and D4 after consuming NZBC extract. On D7, intake of 600 mg increased stroke volume (3.08 ml, 95% CI [−2.08, 8.26]; d = 0.16, p = .21), cardiac output (0.39 L/min, 95% CI [−1.39, .60]; d = 0.14, p = .40) (both +2.5%), and lowered total peripheral resistance by 6.5% (−0.46 mmHg·min/ml, 95% CI [−1.80, .89]; d = 0.18, p = .46). However, these changes were trivial and fell within the coefficient of variation of our study design. Therefore, we can conclude that NZBC extract was not effective in enhancing cardiovascular function during rest and submaximal exercise in endurance-trained fed cyclists.