Strenuous exercise is synonymous with disturbing gastrointestinal integrity and function, subsequently prompting systemic immune responses and exercise-associated gastrointestinal symptoms, a condition established as “exercise-induced gastrointestinal syndrome.” When exercise stress and aligned exacerbation factors (i.e., extrinsic and intrinsic) are of substantial magnitude, these exercise-associated gastrointestinal perturbations can cause performance decrements and health implications of clinical significance. This potentially explains the exponential growth in exploratory, mechanistic, and interventional research in exercise gastroenterology to understand, accurately measure and interpret, and prevent or attenuate the performance debilitating and health consequences of exercise-induced gastrointestinal syndrome. Considering the recent advancement in exercise gastroenterology research, it has been highlighted that published literature in the area is consistently affected by substantial experimental limitations that may affect the accuracy of translating study outcomes into practical application/s and/or design of future research. This perspective methodological review attempts to highlight these concerns and provides guidance to improve the validity, reliability, and robustness of the next generation of exercise gastroenterology research. These methodological concerns include participant screening and description, exertional and exertional heat stress load, dietary control, hydration status, food and fluid provisions, circadian variation, biological sex differences, comprehensive assessment of established markers of exercise-induced gastrointestinal syndrome, validity of gastrointestinal symptoms assessment tool, and data reporting and presentation. Standardized experimental procedures are needed for the accurate interpretation of research findings, avoiding misinterpreted (e.g., pathological relevance of response magnitude) and overstated conclusions (e.g., clinical and practical relevance of intervention research outcomes), which will support more accurate translation into safe practice guidelines.
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Ricardo J.S. Costa, Pascale Young, Samantha K. Gill, Rhiannon M.J. Snipe, Stephanie Gaskell, Isabella Russo, and Louise M. Burke
Isabella Russo, Paul A. Della Gatta, Andrew Garnham, Judi Porter, Louise M. Burke, and Ricardo J.S. Costa
Purpose: This study aimed to determine the effects of an acute “train-low” nutritional protocol on markers of recovery optimization compared to standard recovery nutrition protocol. Methods: After completing a 2-hour high-intensity interval running protocol, 8 male endurance athletes consumed a standard dairy milk recovery beverage (CHO; 1.2 g/kg body mass [BM] of carbohydrate and 0.4 g/kg BM of protein) and a low-carbohydrate (L-CHO; isovolumetric with 0.35 g/kg BM of carbohydrate and 0.5 g/kg BM of protein) dairy milk beverage in a double-blind randomized crossover design. Venous blood and breath samples, nude BM, body water, and gastrointestinal symptom measurements were collected preexercise and during recovery. Muscle biopsy was performed at 0 hour and 2 hours of recovery. Participants returned to the laboratory the following morning to measure energy substrate oxidation and perform a 1-hour distance test. Results: The exercise protocol resulted in depletion of muscle glycogen stores (250 mmol/kg dry weight) and mild body-water losses (BM loss = 1.8%). Neither recovery beverage replenished muscle glycogen stores (279 mmol/kg dry weight) or prevented a decrease in bacterially stimulated neutrophil function (−21%). Both recovery beverages increased phosphorylation of mTORSer2448 (main effect of time = P < .001) and returned hydration status to baseline. A greater fold increase in p-GSK-3βSer9/total-GSK-3β occurred on CHO (P = .012). Blood glucose (P = .005) and insulin (P = .012) responses were significantly greater on CHO (618 mmol/L per 2 h and 3507 μIU/mL per 2 h, respectively) compared to L-CHO (559 mmol/L per 2 h and 1147 μIU/mL per 2 h, respectively). Rates of total fat oxidation were greater on CHO, but performance was not affected. Conclusion: A lower-carbohydrate recovery beverage consumed after exercise in a “train-low” nutritional protocol does not negatively impact recovery optimization outcomes.
Samantha K. Gill, Dean M. Allerton, Paula Ansley-Robson, Krystal Hemmings, Martin Cox, and Ricardo J.S. Costa
The study aimed to determine if short-term high dose probiotic supplementation containing Lactobacillus casei (L.casei) attenuates the commonly reported exertional-heat stress (EHS) induced endotoxinaemia and cytokinaemia. Eight endurance trained male volunteers (mean± SD: age 26 ± 6 y, nude body mass 70.2 ± 8.8 kg, height 1.75 ± 0.05 m, VO2max 59 ± 5 ml·kg-1·min-1) completed a blinded randomized cross-over design, whereby oral ingestion of a commercially available probiotic beverage containing L.casei (volume equivalent for ×1011 colony forming units·day-1) (PRO) or placebo (PLA) was consumed for 7 consecutive days before exposure to EHS, which comprised of 2h running exercise at 60% VO2max in hot ambient conditions (34.0 °C and 32% RH). Blood samples were collected at baseline (7 days before EHS), pre-EHS, post-EHS (1 hr, 2 hr, 4 hr, and at 24 hr). Plasma samples were analyzed for gram-negative bacterial endotoxin, cytokine profile (IL-6, IL-1β, TNF-α, IFN-γ, IL-8, and IL-10) and plasma osmolality. Plasma osmolality did not differ between trials. Seven days of L.casei supplementation did not show significant changes in resting circulatory endotoxin concentration or plasma cytokine profile compared with PLA. A main effect of time was observed for IL-6, TNF-α, IL-10 and IL-8; whereby levels increased in response to EHS (p < .05). Relative to pre-EHS concentrations, higher plasma concentrations of endotoxin (p = .05), and a trend for higher plasma TNF-α concentration (p = .09) was observed on PRO compared with PLA throughout recovery. Short-term high dose supplementation of a probiotic beverage containing L.casei before EHS did not attenuate EHS induced endotoxaemia and cytokinaemia; nor is it more positively favorable over a placebo.
Louise M. Burke, Linda M. Castell, Douglas J. Casa, Graeme L. Close, Ricardo J. S. Costa, Ben Desbrow, Shona L. Halson, Dana M. Lis, Anna K. Melin, Peter Peeling, Philo U. Saunders, Gary J. Slater, Jennifer Sygo, Oliver C. Witard, Stéphane Bermon, and Trent Stellingwerff
The International Association of Athletics Federations recognizes the importance of nutritional practices in optimizing an Athlete’s well-being and performance. Although Athletics encompasses a diverse range of track-and-field events with different performance determinants, there are common goals around nutritional support for adaptation to training, optimal performance for key events, and reducing the risk of injury and illness. Periodized guidelines can be provided for the appropriate type, amount, and timing of intake of food and fluids to promote optimal health and performance across different scenarios of training and competition. Some Athletes are at risk of relative energy deficiency in sport arising from a mismatch between energy intake and exercise energy expenditure. Competition nutrition strategies may involve pre-event, within-event, and between-event eating to address requirements for carbohydrate and fluid replacement. Although a “food first” policy should underpin an Athlete’s nutrition plan, there may be occasions for the judicious use of medical supplements to address nutrient deficiencies or sports foods that help the athlete to meet nutritional goals when it is impractical to eat food. Evidence-based supplements include caffeine, bicarbonate, beta-alanine, nitrate, and creatine; however, their value is specific to the characteristics of the event. Special considerations are needed for travel, challenging environments (e.g., heat and altitude); special populations (e.g., females, young and masters athletes); and restricted dietary choice (e.g., vegetarian). Ideally, each Athlete should develop a personalized, periodized, and practical nutrition plan via collaboration with their coach and accredited sports nutrition experts, to optimize their performance.
Alan J. McCubbin, Bethanie A. Allanson, Joanne N. Caldwell Odgers, Michelle M. Cort, Ricardo J.S. Costa, Gregory R. Cox, Siobhan T. Crawshay, Ben Desbrow, Eliza G. Freney, Stephanie K. Gaskell, David Hughes, Chris Irwin, Ollie Jay, Benita J. Lalor, Megan L.R. Ross, Gregory Shaw, Julien D. Périard, and Louise M. Burke
It is the position of Sports Dietitians Australia (SDA) that exercise in hot and/or humid environments, or with significant clothing and/or equipment that prevents body heat loss (i.e., exertional heat stress), provides significant challenges to an athlete’s nutritional status, health, and performance. Exertional heat stress, especially when prolonged, can perturb thermoregulatory, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal systems. Heat acclimation or acclimatization provides beneficial adaptations and should be undertaken where possible. Athletes should aim to begin exercise euhydrated. Furthermore, preexercise hyperhydration may be desirable in some scenarios and can be achieved through acute sodium or glycerol loading protocols. The assessment of fluid balance during exercise, together with gastrointestinal tolerance to fluid intake, and the appropriateness of thirst responses provide valuable information to inform fluid replacement strategies that should be integrated with event fuel requirements. Such strategies should also consider fluid availability and opportunities to drink, to prevent significant under- or overconsumption during exercise. Postexercise beverage choices can be influenced by the required timeframe for return to euhydration and co-ingestion of meals and snacks. Ingested beverage temperature can influence core temperature, with cold/icy beverages of potential use before and during exertional heat stress, while use of menthol can alter thermal sensation. Practical challenges in supporting athletes in teams and traveling for competition require careful planning. Finally, specific athletic population groups have unique nutritional needs in the context of exertional heat stress (i.e., youth, endurance/ultra-endurance athletes, and para-sport athletes), and specific adjustments to nutrition strategies should be made for these population groups.