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Louise Capling, Janelle A. Gifford, Kathryn L. Beck, Victoria M. Flood, Gary J. Slater, Gareth S. Denyer and Helen T. O’Connor

Food-based diet indices provide a practical, rapid, and inexpensive way of evaluating dietary intake. Rather than nutrients, diet indices assess the intake of whole foods and dietary patterns, and compare these with nutrition guidelines. An athlete-specific diet index would offer an efficient and practical way to assess the quality of athletes’ diets, guide nutrition interventions, and focus sport nutrition support. This study describes the development and validation of an Athlete Diet Index (ADI). Item development was informed by a review of existing diet indices, relevant literature, and in-depth focus groups with 20 sports nutritionists (median of 11 years’ professional experience) from four elite athlete sporting institutes. Focus group data were analyzed (NVivo 11 Pro; QSR International Pty. Ltd., 2017, Melbourne, Australia), and key themes were identified to guide the development of athlete-relevant items. A modified Delphi survey in a subgroup of sports nutritionists (n = 9) supported item content validation. Pilot testing with athletes (n = 15) subsequently informed face validity. The final ADI (n = 68 items) was categorized into three sections. Section A (n = 45 items) evaluated usual intake, special diets or intolerances, dietary habits, and culinary skills. Section B (n = 15 items) assessed training load, nutrition supporting training, and sports supplement use. Section C (n = 8 items) captured the demographic details, sporting type, and caliber. All of the athletes reported the ADI as easy (40%) or very easy (60% of participants) to use and rated the tool as relevant (37%) or very relevant (63% of participants) to athletes. Further evaluation of the ADI, including the development of a scoring matrix and validation compared with established dietary methodology, is warranted.

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Daniel P. Joaquim, Claudia R. Juzwiak and Ciro Winckler

This study aimed to assess the diet quality of Brazilian Paralympic track-and-field team sprinters and its variation between days. All sprinters (n = 28) were invited, and 20 (13 men and seven women) accepted the invitation consisting of 13 athletes with visual impairment, four with cerebral palsy, and three with limb deficiency. The dietary intake was recorded by photographic register on four consecutive days, and diet quality was determined using a revised version of the Healthy Eating Index for the Brazilian population. Physical activity was assessed using an accelerometer, and metabolic unit information was used to classify exercise intensity. Variance Analysis Model and Bonferroni multiple comparisons were used to assess relationships between variables. The correlations between variables used Pearson linear correlation coefficient. The results show that revised version of the Healthy Eating Index score was classified as “needs to be modified” for all athletes. The maximum score for the components “Whole fruits,” “Total vegetables,” and “Dark green and orange vegetables and legumes” was achieved by 23.1% and 14.3%, 7.7% and 14.3%, and 46.2% and 57.8% of male and female athletes, respectively. Only 38.5% of the male athletes achieved the maximum score for the “Total cereal” component. Female athletes achieved higher scores than male athletes for the “Milk and dairy products” component (p = .03). Intake of whole grain cereals, dairy products, vegetables, and whole fruits needs modifications to improve adequate intake of vitamins and antioxidants, highlighting the need of continuous actions of nutrition education for this population.

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Joseph O.C. Coyne, Sophia Nimphius, Robert U. Newton and G. Gregory Haff

Purpose: Criticisms of the acute to chronic workload ratio (ACWR) have been that the mathematical coupling inherent in the traditional calculation of the ACWR results in a spurious correlation. The purposes of this commentary are (1) to examine how mathematical coupling causes spurious correlations and (2) to use a case study from actual monitoring data to determine how mathematical coupling affects the ACWR. Methods: Training and competition workload (TL) data were obtained from international-level open-skill (basketball) and closed-skill (weightlifting) athletes before their respective qualifying tournaments for the 2016 Olympic Games. Correlations between acute TL, chronic TL, and the ACWR as coupled/uncoupled variations were examined. These variables were also compared using both rolling averages and exponentially weighted moving averages to account for any potential benefits of one calculation method over another. Results: Although there were some significant differences between coupled and uncoupled chronic TL and ACWR data, the effect sizes of these differences were almost all trivial (g = 0.04–0.21). Correlations ranged from r = .55 to .76, .17 to .53, and .88 to .99 for acute to chronic TL, acute to uncoupled chronic TL, and ACWR to uncoupled ACWR, respectively. Conclusions: There may be low risk of mathematical coupling causing spurious correlations in the TL–injury-risk relationship. Varying levels of correlation seem to exist naturally between acute and chronic TL variables regardless of coupling. The trivial to small effect sizes and large to nearly perfect correlations between coupled and uncoupled AWCRs also imply that mathematical coupling may have little effect on either calculation method, if practitioners choose to apply the ACWR for TL monitoring purposes.

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Vandre C. Figueiredo, Michelle M. Farnfield, Megan L.R. Ross, Petra Gran, Shona L. Halson, Jonathan M. Peake, David Cameron-Smith and James F. Markworth

Purpose: To determine the acute effects of carbohydrate (CHO) ingestion following a bout of maximal eccentric resistance exercise on key anabolic kinases of mammalian target of rapamycin and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathways. The authors’ hypothesis was that the activation of anabolic signaling pathways known to be upregulated by resistance exercise would be further stimulated by the physiological hyperinsulinemia resulting from CHO supplementation. Methods: Ten resistance-trained men were randomized in a crossover, double-blind, placebo (PLA)-controlled manner to ingest either a noncaloric PLA or 3 g/kg of CHO beverage throughout recovery from resistance exercise. Muscle biopsies were collected at rest, immediately after a single bout of intense lower body resistance exercise, and after 3 hr of recovery. Results: CHO ingestion elevated plasma glucose and insulin concentrations throughout recovery compared with PLA ingestion. The ERK pathway (phosphorylation of ERK1/2 [Thr202/Tyr204], RSK [Ser380], and p70S6K [Thr421/Ser424]) was markedly activated immediately after resistance exercise, without any effect of CHO supplementation. The phosphorylation state of AKT (Thr308) was unchanged postexercise in the PLA trial and increased at 3 hr of recovery above resting with ingestion of CHO compared with PLA. Despite stimulating-marked phosphorylation of AKT, CHO ingestion did not enhance resistance exercise–induced phosphorylation of p70S6K (Thr389) and rpS6 (Ser235/236 and Ser240/244). Conclusion: CHO supplementation after resistance exercise and hyperinsulinemia does not influence the ERK pathway nor the mTORC1 target p70S6K and its downstream proteins, despite the increased AKT phosphorylation.

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Jason R. Boynton, Fabian Danner, Paolo Menaspà, Jeremiah J. Peiffer and Chris R. Abbiss

Purpose: To examine the effect of environmental temperature (T A) on performance and physiological responses (eg, body temperature, cardiopulmonary measures) during a high-intensity aerobic interval session. It was hypothesized that power output would be highest in the 13°C condition and lower in the 5°C, 22°C, and 35°C conditions. Methods: Eleven well-trained cyclists randomly completed 4 interval sessions at 5°C, 13°C, 22°C, and 35°C (55% [13%] relative humidity), each involving five 4-min intervals interspersed with 5 min of recovery. During the intervals, power output, core temperature (T C), skin temperature, VO2, and heart rate were recorded. Results: Mean session power output for 13°C (366 [32] W) was not higher than 5°C (363 [32] W; P = 1.00, effect size = 0.085), 22°C (364 [36] W; P = 1.00, effect size = 0.061), or 35°C (352 [31] W; P = .129, effect size = 0.441). The 5th interval of the 35°C condition had a lower power output compared with all other T A. T C was higher in 22°C compared with both 5°C and 13°C (P = .001). VO2 was not significantly different across T A (P = .187). Heart rate was higher in the 4th and 5th intervals of 35°C compared with 5°C and 13°C. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that while mean power outputs for intervals are similar across T A, hot T A (≥35°C) reduces interval power output later in a training session. Well-trained cyclists performing maximal high-intensity aerobic intervals can achieve near-optimal power output over a broader range of T A than previous literature would indicate.

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Robyn F. Madden, Kelly A. Erdman, Jane Shearer, Lawrence L. Spriet, Reed Ferber, Ash T. Kolstad, Jessica L. Bigg, Alexander S.D. Gamble and Lauren C. Benson

Purpose: To determine the effects of low-dose caffeine supplementation (3 mg/kg body mass) consumed 1 h before the experiment on rating of perceived exertion (RPE), skills performance (SP), and physicality in male college ice hockey players. Methods: Using a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized crossover experimental design, 15 college ice hockey players participated in SP trials and 14 participated in scrimmage (SC) trials on a total of 4 d, with prescribed ice hockey tasks occurring after a 1-h high-intensity practice. In the SP trials, time to complete and error rate for each drill of the validated Western Hockey League Combines Testing Standard were recorded. Peak head accelerations, trunk contacts, and offensive performance were quantified during the SC trials using accelerometery and video analysis. RPE was assessed in both the SP and SC trials. Results: RPE was significantly greater in the caffeine (11.3 [2.0]) than placebo (9.9 [1.9]) condition postpractice (P = .002), with a trend toward greater RPE in caffeine (16.9 [1.8]) than placebo (15.7 [2.8]) post-SC (P = .05). There was a greater number of peak head accelerations in the caffeine (4.35 [0.24]) than placebo (4.14 [0.24]) condition (P = .028). Performance times, error rate, and RPE were not different between intervention conditions during the SP trials (P > .05). Conclusions: A low dose of caffeine has limited impact on sport-specific skill performance and RPE but may enhance physicality during ice hockey SCs.

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Llion A. Roberts, Johnpaul Caia, Lachlan P. James, Tannath J. Scott and Vincent G. Kelly

Purpose: External counterpulsation (ECP) has previously been used to treat cardiac patients via compression of the lower extremities during diastole to increase venous return and coronary perfusion. However, the effects of ECP on exercise performance and markers of recovery in elite athletes are largely unknown. Methods: On 2 separate occasions, 48 h apart, 7 elite National Rugby League players performed an identical 60-min field-based conditioning session followed by a 30-min period of either regular ECP treatment or placebo. Power measures during repeated cycle bouts and countermovement jump height and contraction time derivatives were measured at rest and 5 h postexercise. Saliva samples and venous blood samples were taken at rest, postexercise, and 5 h postexercise to assess stress, inflammation, and muscle damage. Results: After ECP treatment, cycling peak power output (P = .028; 11%) and accumulated peak power (P = .027; 14%) increased compared with the placebo condition. Postexercise plasma interleukin 1 receptor antagonist only increased after ECP (P = .024; 84%), and concentrations of plasma interleukin 1 receptor antagonist tended to be higher (P = .093; 76%) 5 h postexercise. Furthermore, testosterone-to-cortisol ratio was increased above baseline and placebo 5 h postexercise (P = .017–.029; 24–77%). The ratio of postexercise salivary α-amylase to immunoglobulin A decreased after treatment (P = .013; 50%) compared with the placebo control. Conclusions: Exercise performance and hormonal indicators of stress were improved and inflammation markers were reduced following acute ECP.

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Danny Lum and Tiago M. Barbosa

Purpose: To evaluate the effect of strength training on Olympic time-based sports (OTBS) time-trial performance and provide an estimate of the impact of type of strength training, age, training status, and training duration on OTBS time-trial performance. Methods: A search on 3 electronic databases was conducted. The analysis comprised 32 effects in 28 studies. Posttest time-trial performance of intervention and control group from each study was used to estimate the standardized magnitude of impact of strength training on OTBS time-trial performance. Results: Strength training had a moderate positive effect on OTBS time-trial performance (effect size = 0.59, P < .01). Subgroup meta-analysis showed that heavy weight training (effect size = 0.30, P = .01) produced a significant effect, whereas other modes did not induce significant effects. Training status as factorial covariate was significant for well-trained athletes (effect size = 0.62, P = .04), but not for other training levels. Meta-regression analysis yielded nonsignificant relationship with age of the participants recruited (β = −0.04; 95% confidence interval, −0.08 to 0.004; P = .07) and training duration (β = −0.05; 95% confidence interval, −0.11 to 0.02; P = .15) as continuous covariates. Conclusion: Heavy weight training is an effective method for improving OTBS time-trial performance. Strength training has greatest impact on well-trained athletes regardless of age and training duration.

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Alexander S.D. Gamble, Jessica L. Bigg, Tyler F. Vermeulen, Stephanie M. Boville, Greg S. Eskedjian, Sebastian Jannas-Vela, Jamie Whitfield, Matthew S. Palmer and Lawrence L. Spriet

Several previous studies have reported performance decrements in team sport athletes who dehydrated approximately 1.5–2% of their body mass (BM) through sweating. This study measured on-ice sweat loss, fluid intake, sodium balance, and carbohydrate (CHO) intake of 77 major junior (JR; 19 ± 1 years), 60 American Hockey League (AHL; 24 ± 4 years), and 77 National Hockey League (NHL; 27 ± 5 years) players. Sweat loss was calculated from pre- to post-exercise BM plus fluid intake minus urine loss. AHL (2.03 ± 0.62 L/hr) and NHL (2.02 ± 0.74 L/hr) players had higher sweat rates (p < .05) than JR players (1.63 ± 0.58 L/hr). AHL (1.23 ± 0.69%; p = .006) and NHL (1.29% ± 0.63%; p < .001) players had ∼30% greater BM losses than JR players (0.89% ± 0.57%). There was no difference in fluid intake between groups (p > .05). Sodium deficits (sodium loss − intake) were greater (p < .05) in AHL (1.68 ± 0.74 g/hr) and NHL (1.56 ± 0.84 g/hr) players compared with JR players (1.01 ± 0.50 g/hr). CHO intake was similar between groups (14–20 g CHO/hr), with 29%, 32%, and 40% of JR, AHL, and NHL players consuming no CHO, respectively. In summary, sweat rates were high in all players, but the majority of players (74/77, 54/60, and 68/77 of JR, AHL, and NHL, respectively) avoided mild dehydration (>2% BM) during 60 min of practice. However, ∼15%, 41%, and 48% of the JR, AHL, and NHL players, respectively, may have reached mild dehydration and increased risk of performance decrements in a 90-min practice.

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Jason P. Brandenburg and Luisa V. Giles

Blueberries are abundant with anthocyanins possessing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. As these properties combat fatigue and promote recovery, blueberry supplementation may enhance performance and recovery. Thus, the objectives were to examine the effects of two blueberry supplementation protocols on running performance, physiological responses, and short-term recovery. Using a randomized, double-blind, placebo (PLA)-controlled crossover design, 14 runners completed an 8-km time trial (TT) after supplementation with 4 days of blueberries (4DAY), 4 days of a PLA, or 2 days of placebo followed by 2 days of blueberries (2DAY). Heart rate and ratings of perceived exertion were monitored during the TT. Blood lactate, vertical jump, reactive strength index, and salivary markers were assessed before and after. No significant differences were observed for time to complete the TT (PLA: 3,010 ± 459 s; 2DAY: 3,014 ± 488 s; 4DAY: 3,011 ± 423 s), heart rate, ratings of perceived exertion, or any of the salivary markers. An interaction effect (p = .027) was observed for blood lactate, with lower post-TT concentrations in 4DAY (5.4 ± 2.0 mmol/L) than PLA (6.6 ± 2.5 mmol/L; p = .038) and 2DAY (7.4 ± 3.4 mmol/L; p = .034). Post-TT decreases in vertical jump height were not different, whereas the decline in reactive strength index was less following 4DAY (−6.1% ± 13.5%) than the other conditions (PLA: −12.6% ± 10.1%; 2DAY: −11.6% ± 11.5%; p = .038). Two days of supplementation did not influence performance or physiological stress. Although 4 days of supplementation did not alter performance, it blunted the increase in blood lactate, perhaps reflecting altered lactate production and/or clearance, and offset the decrease in dynamic muscle function post-TT, as indicated by the reactive strength index differences.