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Scott A. Conger, Lara M. Tuthill, and Mindy L. Millard-Stafford

Whether caffeine (CAF) increases fat metabolism remains debatable. Using systematic review coupled with meta-analysis, our aim was to determine effects of CAF on fat metabolism and the relevant factors moderating this effect. Electronic databases PubMed, SPORTDiscus, and Web of Science were searched using the following string: CAF AND (fat OR lipid) AND (metabolism OR oxidation). A meta-analytic approach aggregated data from 94 studies examining CAF’s effect on fat metabolism assessed by different biomarkers. The overall effect size (ES) was 0.39 (95% confidence interval [CI] [0.30, 0.47], p < .001), indicating a small effect of CAF to increase fat metabolism; however, ES was significantly higher (p < .001) based on blood biomarkers (e.g., free fatty acids, glycerol) (ES = 0.55, 95% CI [0.43, 0.67]) versus expired gas analysis (respiratory exchange ratio, calculated fat oxidation) (ES = 0.26, 95% CI [0.16, 0.37]), although both were greater than zero. Fat metabolism increased to a greater extent (p = .02) during rest (ES = 0.51, 95% CI [0.41, 0.62]) versus exercise (ES = 0.35, 95% CI [0.26, 0.44]) across all studies, although ES was not different for studies reporting both conditions (ES = 0.49 and 0.44, respectively). There were no subgroup differences based on participants’ fitness level, sex, or CAF dosage. CAF ingestion increases fat metabolism but is more consistent with blood biomarkers versus whole-body gas exchange measures. CAF has a small effect during rest across all studies, although similar to exercise when compared within the same study. CAF dosage did not moderate this effect.

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Tom P. Aird, Andrew J. Farquharson, Kate M. Bermingham, Aifric O’Sullivan, Janice E. Drew, and Brian P. Carson

Endurance training in fasted conditions (FAST) induces favorable skeletal muscle metabolic adaptations compared with carbohydrate feeding (CHO), manifesting in improved exercise performance over time. Sprint interval training (SIT) is a potent metabolic stimulus, however nutritional strategies to optimize adaptations to SIT are poorly characterized. Here we investigated the efficacy of FAST versus CHO SIT (4–6 × 30-s Wingate sprints interspersed with 4-min rest) on muscle metabolic, serum metabolome and exercise performance adaptations in a double-blind parallel group design in recreationally active males. Following acute SIT, we observed exercise-induced increases in pan-acetylation and several genes associated with mitochondrial biogenesis, fatty acid oxidation, and NAD+-biosynthesis, along with favorable regulation of PDK4 (p = .004), NAMPT (p = .0013), and NNMT (p = .001) in FAST. Following 3 weeks of SIT, NRF2 (p = .029) was favorably regulated in FAST, with augmented pan-acetylation in CHO but not FAST (p = .033). SIT induced increases in maximal citrate synthase activity were evident with no effect of nutrition, while 3-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase activity did not change. Despite no difference in the overall serum metabolome, training-induced changes in C3:1 (p = .013) and C4:1 (p = .010) which increased in FAST, and C16:1 (p = .046) and glutamine (p = .021) which increased in CHO, were different between groups. Training-induced increases in anaerobic (p = .898) and aerobic power (p = .249) were not influenced by nutrition. These findings suggest some beneficial muscle metabolic adaptations are evident in FAST versus CHO SIT following acute exercise and 3 weeks of SIT. However, this stimulus did not manifest in differential exercise performance adaptations.

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Sarah de Jager, Stefaan Van Damme, Siegrid De Baere, Siska Croubels, Ralf Jäger, Martin Purpura, Eline Lievens, Jan G. Bourgois, and Wim Derave

Carnosine (β-alanyl-L-histidine) and its methylated analogues anserine and balenine are highly concentrated endogenous dipeptides in mammalian skeletal muscle that are implicated in exercise performance. Balenine has a much better bioavailability and stability in human circulation upon acute ingestion, compared to carnosine and anserine. Therefore, ergogenic effects observed with acute carnosine and anserine supplementation may be even more pronounced with balenine. This study investigated whether acute balenine supplementation improves physical performance in four maximal and submaximal exercise modalities. A total of 20 healthy, active volunteers (14 males; six females) performed cycling sprints, maximal isometric contractions, a 4-km TT and 20-km TT following either preexercise placebo or 10 mg/kg of balenine ingestion. Physical, as well as mental performance, along with acid–base balance and glucose concentration were assessed. Balenine was unable to augment peak power (p = .3553), peak torque (p = .3169), time to complete the 4 km (p = .8566), nor 20 km time trial (p = .2660). None of the performances were correlated with plasma balenine or CN1 enzyme activity. In addition, no effect on pH, bicarbonate, and lactate was observed. Also, the supplement did not affect mental performance. In contrast, glucose remained higher during and after the 20 km time trial following balenine ingestion. In conclusion, these results overall indicate that the functionality of balenine does not fully resemble that of carnosine and anserine, since it was unable to elicit performance improvements with similar and even higher plasma concentrations.

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Henry J. Hopwood, Phillip M. Bellinger, Heidi R. Compton, Matthew N. Bourne, and Clare Minahan

Purpose: The aim of this systematic review was to (1) determine the muscle fiber-type composition (or muscle fiber typology [MFT]) of team-sport athletes and (2) examine associations between MFT and the physical characteristics and performance tasks in team-sport athletes. Methods: Searches were conducted across numerous databases—PubMed, SPORTDiscus, MEDLINE, and Google Scholar—using consistent search terms. Studies were included if they examined the MFT of team-sport athletes. Included studies underwent critical appraisal using the McMasters University critical appraisal tool for quantitative research. Results: A total of 10 studies were included in the present review, wherein the MFT of athletes was measured from 5 different team sports (soccer, rugby union, rugby league, handball, and volleyball). There was large variability in the MFT of team-sport athletes both within (up to 27.5%) and between sports (24.0% relative difference). Male football players with a higher proportion of type II fibers had faster 10- and 30-m sprint times, achieved a greater total distance sprinting (distance at >6.67 m·s−1), and a greater peak 1-minute sprint distance. Conclusions: MFT varies considerably between athletes both within and between different team sports. The results from some studies suggest that variation in MFT is associated with high-intensity running performance in a football match, as well as 10- and 30-m sprint times. Further experimental studies should focus on how determination of the MFT of team-sport athletes could be utilized to influence talent identification, team selection, and the individualization of training.

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Thomas Haugen, Espen Tønnessen, Silvana Bucher Sandbakk, and Øyvind Sandbakk

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Amy-Lee M. Bowler, Jamie Whitfield, Lachlan Marshall, Vernon G. Coffey, Louise M. Burke, and Gregory R. Cox

This review discusses the potential value of tracking interstitial glucose with continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) in athletes, highlighting possible applications and important considerations in the collection and interpretation of interstitial glucose data. CGMs are sensors that provide real time, longitudinal tracking of interstitial glucose with a range of commercial monitors currently available. Recent advancements in CGM technology have led to the development of athlete-specific devices targeting glucose monitoring in sport. Although largely untested, the capacity of CGMs to capture the duration, magnitude, and frequency of interstitial glucose fluctuations every 1–15 min may present a unique opportunity to monitor fueling adequacy around competitive events and training sessions, with applications for applied research and sports nutrition practice. Indeed, manufacturers of athlete-specific devices market these products as a “fueling gauge,” enabling athletes to “push their limits longer and get bigger gains.” However, as glucose homeostasis is a complex phenomenon, extensive research is required to ascertain whether systemic glucose availability (estimated by CGM-derived interstitial glucose) has any meaning in relation to the intended purposes in sport. Whether CGMs will provide reliable and accurate information and enhance sports nutrition knowledge and practice is currently untested. Caveats around the use of CGMs include technical issues (dislodging of sensors during periods of surveillance, loss of data due to synchronization issues), practical issues (potential bans on their use in some sporting scenarios, expense), and challenges to the underpinning principles of data interpretation, which highlight the role of sports nutrition professionals to provide context and interpretation.

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Heidi Stanish, Samantha M. Ross, Byron Lai, Justin A. Haegele, Joonkoo Yun, and Sean Healy

The U.S. Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth has tracked 10 physical activity (PA) indicators common to the Active Healthy Kids Global Matrix since 2014. This article expands on the U.S. report cards by presenting PA indicator assessments among children and adolescents with disabilities. Grades for indicators were assigned based on a search of peer-reviewed articles presenting nationally representative data. The Global Matrix 3.0 benchmarks and grading framework guided the process. Grades for overall PA, sedentary behaviors, organized sports, and school were F, D+, D+, and D, respectively. Insufficient evidence existed to assign grades to the remaining six indicators. There is a need in the United States for targeted PA promotion strategies that are specific to children and adolescents with disabilities. Without a commitment to this effort across sectors and settings, the low grades identified in this para report card are expected to remain.

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Øyvind Sandbakk, Mark Burnley, James Hopker, Athanasios Pappous, Samuele Maria Marcora, and Gary Brickley