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Alannah K.A. McKay, Peter Peeling, David B. Pyne, Nicolin Tee, Marijke Welveart, Ida A. Heikura, Avish P. Sharma, Jamie Whitfield, Megan L. Ross, Rachel P.L. van Swelm, Coby M. Laarakkers, and Louise M. Burke

This study implemented a 2-week high carbohydrate (CHO) diet intended to maximize CHO oxidation rates and examined the iron-regulatory response to a 26-km race walking effort. Twenty international-level, male race walkers were assigned to either a novel high CHO diet (MAX = 10 g/kg body mass CHO daily) inclusive of gut-training strategies, or a moderate CHO control diet (CON = 6 g/kg body mass CHO daily) for a 2-week training period. The athletes completed a 26-km race walking test protocol before and after the dietary intervention. Venous blood samples were collected pre-, post-, and 3 hr postexercise and measured for serum ferritin, interleukin-6, and hepcidin-25 concentrations. Similar decreases in serum ferritin (17–23%) occurred postintervention in MAX and CON. At the baseline, CON had a greater postexercise increase in interleukin-6 levels after 26 km of walking (20.1-fold, 95% CI [9.2, 35.7]) compared with MAX (10.2-fold, 95% CI [3.7, 18.7]). A similar finding was evident for hepcidin levels 3 hr postexercise (CON = 10.8-fold, 95% CI [4.8, 21.2]; MAX = 8.8-fold, 95% CI [3.9, 16.4]). Postintervention, there were no substantial differences in the interleukin-6 response (CON = 13.6-fold, 95% CI [9.2, 20.5]; MAX = 11.2-fold, 95% CI [6.5, 21.3]) or hepcidin levels (CON = 7.1-fold, 95% CI [2.1, 15.4]; MAX = 6.3-fold, 95% CI [1.8, 14.6]) between the dietary groups. Higher resting serum ferritin (p = .004) and hotter trial ambient temperatures (p = .014) were associated with greater hepcidin levels 3 hr postexercise. Very high CHO diets employed by endurance athletes to increase CHO oxidation have little impact on iron regulation in elite athletes. It appears that variations in serum ferritin concentration and ambient temperature, rather than dietary CHO, are associated with increased hepcidin concentrations 3 hr postexercise.

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Rodrigo Zacca, Bruno Mezêncio, Flávio A. de Souza Castro, Fábio Y. Nakamura, David B. Pyne, João Paulo Vilas-Boas, and Ricardo J. Fernandes

Aim: The authors investigated how the Arena Powerskin R-EVO Closed Back swimsuit and Arena Carbon Triwetsuit (full-sleeve wetsuit), both approved by the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) regulations, affect biomechanics and energetics of 3 elite female open water (OW) swimmers at maximal and 4 submaximal swimming intensities. Methods: Three elite female OW swimmers (OW1 = 24 y, 1.64 m, 60 kg; OW2 = 23 y, 1.69 m, 65 kg; OW3 = 27 y, 1.63 m, 64.5 kg) were tested 1 week prior to a FINA/CNSG (China National Sports Group) Marathon Swim World Series event and 40 days before the 18th FINA World Championships 2019. Each OW swimmer completed 2 identical testing sessions, one with a swimsuit and other with a wetsuit, involving shoulder flexion power output assessed from medicine-ball throw, maximal performance and drag coefficient assessment, and an incremental intermittent swim test at 4 different relative intensities. Results: Estimated peak oxygen uptake was 4.4 L·min−1 for OW1, 5.6 L·min−1 for OW2, and 5.0 L·min−1 for OW3. Despite a distinct behavior observed on index of coordination for OW3, a null index of synchronization, increased stroke rate (mean difference = 2%–8%), reduced drag factor (minimum = −14%; maximum = −30%), lower energy cost (mean difference = −2% to −6%), and faster performance (mean difference = 2% to 3%) were observed with the wetsuit compared with swimsuit for all elite OW swimmers. Conclusion: The wetsuit enhances submaximal swimming performance, and this increase is dependent on the OW swimmer’s characteristics. The higher stroke rate and lower stroke length detected with wetsuit could be related to movement constraints imposed by the suit.

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Xabier Muriel, Pedro L. Valenzuela, Manuel Mateo-March, Jesús G. Pallarés, Alejandro Lucia, and David Barranco-Gil

Purpose: To compare the physical demands and performance indicators of male professional cyclists of 2 different categories (Union Cycliste Internationale WorldTour [WT] and ProTeam [PT]) during a cycling grand tour. Methods: A WT team (n = 8, 31.4 [5.4] y) and a PT team (n = 7, 26.9 [3.3] y) that completed “La Vuelta 2020” volunteered to participate. Participants’ power output (PO) was registered, and measures of physical demand and physiological performance (kilojoules spent, training stress score, time spent at different PO bands/zones, and mean maximal PO [MMP] for different exertion durations) were computed. Results: WT achieved a higher final individual position than PT (31 [interquartile range = 33] vs 71 [59], P = .004). WT cyclists showed higher mean PO and kilojoule values than their PT peers and spent more time at high-intensity PO values (>5.25 W·kg−1) and zones (91%–120% of individualized functional threshold power) (Ps < .05). Although no differences were found for MMP values in the overall analysis (P > .05), subanalyses revealed that the between-groups gap increased through the race, with WT cyclists reaching higher MMP values for ≥5-minute efforts in the second and third weeks (Ps < .05). Conclusions: Despite the multifactorial nature of cycling performance, WT cyclists spend more time at high intensities and show higher kilojoules and mean PO than their PT referents during a grand tour. Although the highest MMP values attained during the whole race might not differentiate between WT and PT cyclists, the former achieve higher MMP values as the race progresses.

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Johnpaul Caia, Shona L. Halson, Patrick M. Holmberg, and Vincent G. Kelly

Purpose: To examine the sleep of rugby league athletes the night before and following an evening match and to investigate the association between caffeine intake and sleep on the night of competition. Methods: On the night prior to, night of, and night after a professional rugby league match, 15 athletes had their sleep monitored using wrist activity monitors. Additionally, saliva samples were collected 60 minutes before and 30 minutes after the competition to assess salivary caffeine concentration. Differences in sleep across the 3 nights were examined using linear mixed models, and changes were assessed using effect size (ES). Pearson correlation (r) assessed the relationship between salivary caffeine levels and sleep indices. Results: On the night of competition, athletes went to bed later than the night before (P = .00002, ES = 1.84) and night after (P = .0003, ES = 1.49) competition. Consequently, their sleep duration was reduced on the night of competition compared with the previous night (P < .0000003, ES = 2.36) and night after competition (P = .001, ES = 1.53). Postcompetition salivary caffeine concentration was substantially elevated in athletes when compared with precompetition measures (P < .00000001, ES = 4.44), and moderate, nonsignificant correlations were observed between changes in salivary caffeine concentration and delayed bedtime (r = .48, P = .07), increased sleep latency (r = .45, P = .09), decreased sleep duration (r = −.30, P = .28), and reduced sleep efficiency (r = −.34, P = .22). Conclusions: These results demonstrate that evening competition results in sleep disturbance in rugby league athletes, and caffeine supplementation prior to and during competition leads to substantial increases in postcompetition salivary caffeine concentration.

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Alannah K.A. McKay, Rachel McCormick, Nicolin Tee, and Peter Peeling

This study determined the impact of heat stress on postexercise inflammation and hepcidin levels. Twelve moderately trained males completed three, 60-min treadmill running sessions under different conditions: (a) COOL, 18 °C with speed maintained at 80% maximum heart rate; (b) HOTHR, 35 °C with speed maintained at 80% maximum heart rate; and (c) HOTPACE, 35 °C completed at the average running speed from the COOL trial. Venous blood samples were collected pre-, post-, and 3-hr postexercise and analyzed for serum ferritin, interleukin-6 (IL-6), and hepcidin concentrations. Average HR was highest during HOTPACE compared with HOTHR and COOL (p < .001). Running speed was slowest in HOTHR compared with COOL and HOTPACE (p < .001). The postexercise increase in IL-6 was greatest during HOTPACE (295%; p = .003). No differences in the IL-6 response immediately postexercise between COOL (115%) and HOTHR (116%) were evident (p = .992). No differences in hepcidin concentrations between the three trials were evident at 3 hr postexercise (p = .407). Findings from this study suggest the IL-6 response to exercise is greatest in hot compared with cool conditions when the absolute running speed was matched. No differences in IL-6 between hot and cool conditions were evident when HR was matched, suggesting the increased physiological strain induced from training at higher intensities in hot environments, rather than the heat per se, is likely responsible for this elevated response. Environmental temperature had no impact on hepcidin levels, indicating that exercising in hot conditions is unlikely to further impact transient alterations in iron regulation, beyond that expected in temperate conditions.

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Lara Lima Nabuco, Bryan Saunders, Renato André Sousa da Silva, Guilherme Eckhardt Molina, and Caio Eduardo Gonçalves Reis

This study investigated the effects of caffeine mouth rinse on cycling time to exhaustion (TTE) and physiological responses in trained cyclists. In a double-blinded randomized counterbalanced cross-over design, 10 recreationally trained male cyclists (mean ± SD: 32 ± 3 years, 72.8 ± 5.3 kg, 1.78 ± 0.06 m, 13.9% ± 3.3% body fat, peak power output = 289.4 ± 24.7 W) completed two TTE tests cycling at 75% of peak aerobic power following 24 hr of dietary and exercise standardization. Cyclists were administered 25-ml mouth rinses for 5 s containing either 85 mg of caffeine or control (water) every 5 min throughout the exercise tests. No significant improvement in TTE was shown with caffeine mouth rinse compared with control (33:24 ± 12:47 vs. 28:08 ± 10:18 min; Cohen’s dz effect size: 0.51, p = .14). Caffeine mouth rinse had no significant effect on ratings of perceived exertion (p = .31) or heart rate (p = .35) throughout the cycling TTE protocol. These data indicate that a repeated dose of caffeinated mouth rinse for 5 s does not improve cycling TTE in recreationally trained male cyclists. However, these findings should be taken with caution due to the small sample size and blinding ineffectiveness, while further well-design studies with larger samples are warranted.

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Claudio Quagliarotti, Matteo Cortesi, Giorgio Gatta, Marco Bonifazi, Paola Zamparo, Roberto Baldassarre, Veronica Vleck, and Maria Francesca Piacentini

Purpose : Although wearing a wetsuit while swimming, when permitted, is primarily for safety reasons (ie, to protect against hypothermia), changes in buoyancy, biomechanics, and exercise performance have been reported. This narrative review covers the benefits of different wetsuit models on performance in swimming and triathlon. Methods : A computer search of online databases was conducted to locate relevant published research until March 2021. After the screening process, 17 studies were selected for analysis. Results : Most of the selected studies involved pool swimmers or triathletes completing short or middle distances in a pool while using a full or a long sleeveless wetsuit. Swimming with wetsuit elicited significant improvements in performance (maximum 11%), mainly by decreasing drag and energy cost, by increasing buoyancy, and by affecting technique. Different rates of change in each factor were found according to swimming ability and wetsuit model. In addition, wearing a wetsuit was often rated as uncomfortable by athletes. Conclusions : Although improvement in swimming performance by wearing a wetsuit has been reported in the literature, the amplitude of the improvement remains questionable. The enhancement in swimming performance is attributable merely to improvements in propulsion proficiency and buoyancy, as well as a reduction in drag. The extent to which athletes are familiar with the use of a wetsuit, their swimming ability, and the wetsuit model may play important roles in this improvement. More studies simulating competition and comparing elite versus nonelite athletes are needed.