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Louise M. Burke, Gary Slater, Elizabeth M. Broad, Jasmina Haukka, Sofie Modulon, and William G. Hopkins

We undertook a dietary survey of 167 Australian Olympic team athletes (80 females and 87 males) competing in endurance sports (n = 41), team sports (n = 31), sprint- or skill-based sports (n = 67), and sports in which athletes are weight-conscious (n = 28). Analysis of their 7-day food diaries provided mean energy intakes, nutrient intakes, and eating patterns. Higher energy intakes relative to body mass were reported by male athletes compared with females, and by endurance athletes compared with other athletes. Endurance athletes reported substantially higher intakes of carbohydrate (CHO) than other athletes, and were among the athletes most likely to consume CHO during and after training sessions. Athletes undertaking weight-conscious sports reported relatively low energy intakes and were least likely to consume CHO during a training session or in the first hour of recovery. On average, athletes reported eating on ~5 separate occasions each day, with a moderate relationship between the number of daily eating occasions and total energy intake. Snacks, defined as food or drink consumed between main meals, provided 23% of daily energy intake and were chosen from sources higher in CHO and lower in fat and protein than foods chosen at meals. The dietary behaviors of these elite athletes were generally consistent with guidelines for sports nutrition, but intakes during and after training sessions were often sub-optimal. Although it is of interest to study the periodicity of fluid and food intake by athletes, it is difficult to compare across studies due to a lack of standardized terminology.

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Thomas Birkedal Stenqvist, Anna Katarina Melin, Ina Garthe, Gary Slater, Gøran Paulsen, Juma Iraki, Jose Areta, and Monica Klungland Torstveit

The syndrome of Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) includes wide-ranging effects on physiological and psychological functioning, performance, and general health. However, RED-S is understudied among male athletes at the highest performance levels. This cross-sectional study aimed to investigate surrogate RED-S markers prevalence in Norwegian male Olympic-level athletes. Athletes (n = 44) aged 24.7 ± 3.8 years, body mass 81.3 ± 15.9 kg, body fat 13.7% ± 5.8%, and training volume 76.1 ± 22.9 hr/month were included. Assessed parameters included resting metabolic rate (RMR), body composition, and bone mineral density by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry and venous blood variables (testosterone, free triiodothyronine, cortisol, and lipids). Seven athletes (16%) grouped by the presence of low RMR (RMRratio < 0.90) (0.81 ± 0.07 vs. 1.04 ± 0.09, p < .001, effect size 2.6), also showed lower testosterone (12.9 ± 5.3 vs. 19.0 ± 5.3 nmol/L, p = .020) than in normal RMR group. In low RMRratio individuals, prevalence of other RED-S markers (—subclinical—low testosterone, low free triiodothyronine, high cortisol, and elevated low-density lipoprotein) was (N/number of markers): 2/0, 2/1, 2/2, 1/3. Low bone mineral density (z-score < −1) was found in 16% of the athletes, all with normal RMR. Subclinical low testosterone and free triiodothyronine levels were found in nine (25%) and two (5%) athletes, respectively. Subclinical high cortisol was found in 23% of athletes while 34% had elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels. Seven of 12 athletes with two or more RED-S markers had normal RMR. In conclusion, this study found that multiple RED-S markers also exist in male Olympic-level athletes. This highlights the importance of regular screening of male elite athletes, to ensure early detection and treatment of RED-S.

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Adam J. Zemski, Shelley E. Keating, Elizabeth M. Broad, Damian J. Marsh, Karen Hind, and Gary J. Slater

During preseason training, rugby union (RU) athletes endeavor to enhance physical performance characteristics that are aligned with on-field success. Specific physique traits are associated with performance; therefore body composition assessment is routinely undertaken in elite environments. This study aimed to quantify preseason physique changes in elite RU athletes with unique morphology and divergent ethnicity. Twenty-two White and Polynesian professional RU athletes received dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry assessments at the beginning and conclusion of an 11-week preseason. Interactions between on-field playing position and ethnicity in body composition adaptations were explored, and the least significant change model was used to evaluate variations at the individual level. There were no combined interaction effects with the variables position and ethnicity and any body composition measure. After accounting for baseline body composition, Whites gained more lean mass during the preseason than Polynesians (2,425 ± 1,303 g vs. 1,115 ± 1,169 g; F = 5.4, p = .03). Significant main effects of time were found for whole body and all regional measures with fat mass decreasing (F = 31.1–52.0, p < .01), and lean mass increasing (F = 12.0–40.4, p < .01). Seventeen athletes (nine White and eight Polynesian) had a reduction in fat mass, and eight athletes (six White and two Polynesian) increased lean mass. This study describes significant and meaningful physique changes in elite RU athletes during a preseason period. Given the individualized approach applied to athletes in regard to nutrition and conditioning interventions, a similar approach to that used in this study is recommended to assess physique changes in this population.

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Jessica M. Stephens, Shona L. Halson, Joanna Miller, Gary J. Slater, Dale W. Chapman, and Christopher D. Askew

Purpose: To explore the influence of body composition on thermal responses to cold-water immersion (CWI) and the recovery of exercise performance. Methods: Male subjects were stratified into 2 groups: low fat (LF; n = 10) or high fat (HF; n = 10). Subjects completed a high-intensity interval test (HIIT) on a cycle ergometer followed by a 15-min recovery intervention (control [CON] or CWI). Core temperature (Tc), skin temperature, and heart rate were recorded continuously. Performance was assessed at baseline, immediately post-HIIT, and 40 min postrecovery using a 4-min cycling time trial (TT), countermovement jump (CMJ), and isometric midthigh pull (IMTP). Perceptual measures (thermal sensation [TS], total quality of recovery [TQR], soreness, and fatigue) were also assessed. Results: Tc and TS were significantly lower in LF than in HF from 10 min (Tc, LF 36.5°C ± 0.5°C, HF 37.2°C ± 0.6°C; TS, LF 2.3 ± 0.5 arbitrary units [a.u.], HF 3.0 ± 0.7 a.u.) to 40 min (Tc, LF 36.1°C ± 0.6°C, HF 36.8°C ±0.7°C; TS, LF 2.3 ± 0.6 a.u., HF 3.2 ± 0.7 a.u.) after CWI (P < .05). Recovery of TT performance was significantly enhanced after CWI in HF (10.3 ± 6.1%) compared with LF (3.1 ± 5.6%, P = .01); however, no differences were observed between HF (6.9% ±5.7%) and LF (5.4% ± 5.2%) with CON. No significant differences were observed between groups for CMJ, IMTP, TQR, soreness, or fatigue in either condition. Conclusion: Body composition influences the magnitude of Tc change during and after CWI. In addition, CWI enhanced performance recovery in the HF group only. Therefore, body composition should be considered when planning CWI protocols to avoid overcooling and maximize performance recovery.

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Jeremy M. Sheppard, Sophia Nimphius, Greg G. Haff, Tai T. Tran, Tania Spiteri, Hedda Brooks, Gary Slater, and Robert U. Newton

Purpose:

Appropriate and valid testing protocols for evaluating the physical performances of surfing athletes are not well refined. The purpose of this project was to develop, refine, and evaluate a testing protocol for use with elite surfers, including measures of anthropometry, strength and power, and endurance.

Methods:

After pilot testing and consultation with athletes, coaches, and sport scientists, a specific suite of tests was developed. Forty-four competitive junior surfers (16.2 ± 1.3 y, 166.3 ± 7.3 cm, 57.9 ± 8.5 kg) participated in this study involving a within-day repeated-measures analysis, using an elite junior group of 22 international competitors (EJG), to establish reliability of the measures. To reflect validity of the testing measures, a comparison of performance results was then undertaken between the EJG and an age-matched competitive junior group of 22 nationally competitive surfers (CJG).

Results:

Percent typical error of measurement (%TEM) for primary variables gained from the assessments ranged from 1.1% to 3.0%, with intraclass correlation coefficients ranging from .96 to .99. One-way analysis of variance revealed that the EJG had lower skinfolds (P = .005, d = 0.9) than the CJG, despite no difference in stature (P = .102) or body mass (P = .827). The EJG were faster in 15-m sprint-paddle velocity (P < .001, d = 1.3) and had higher lower-body isometric peak force (P = .04, d = 0.7) and superior endurance-paddling velocity (P = .008, d = 0.9).

Conclusions:

The relatively low %TEM of these tests in this population allows for high sensitivity to detect change. The results of this study suggest that competitively superior junior surfers are leaner and possess superior strength, paddling power, and paddling endurance.

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Alisa Nana, Gary J. Slater, Will G. Hopkins, Shona L. Halson, David T. Martin, Nicholas P. West, and Louise M. Burke

Purpose:

The implications of undertaking DXA scans using best practice protocols (subjects fasted and rested) or a less precise but more practical protocol in assessing chronic changes in body composition following training and a specialized recovery technique were investigated.

Methods:

Twenty-one male cyclists completed an overload training program, in which they were randomized to four sessions per week of either cold water immersion therapy or control groups. Whole-body DXA scans were undertaken with best practice protocol (Best) or random activity protocol (Random) at baseline, after 3 weeks of overload training, and after a 2-week taper. Magnitudes of changes in total, lean and fat mass from baseline-overload, overload-taper and baseline-taper were assessed by standardization (Δmean/SD).

Results:

The standard deviations of change scores for total and fat-free soft tissue mass (FFST) from Random scans (2–3%) were approximately double those observed in the Best (1–2%), owing to extra random errors associated with Random scans at baseline. There was little difference in change scores for fat mass. The effect of cold water immersion therapy on baseline-taper changes in FFST was possibly harmful (-0.7%; 90% confidence limits ±1.2%) with Best scans but unclear with Random scans (0.9%; ±2.0%). Both protocols gave similar possibly harmful effects of cold water immersion therapy on changes in fat mass (6.9%; ±13.5% and 5.5%; ±14.3%, respectively).

Conclusions:

An interesting effect of cold water immersion therapy on training-induced changes in body composition might have been missed with a less precise scanning protocol. DXA scans should be undertaken with Best.

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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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Jessica M. Stephens, Ken Sharpe, Christopher Gore, Joanna Miller, Gary J. Slater, Nathan Versey, Jeremiah Peiffer, Rob Duffield, Geoffrey M. Minett, David Crampton, Alan Dunne, Christopher D. Askew, and Shona L. Halson

Purpose: To examine the effect of postexercise cold-water immersion (CWI) protocols, compared with control (CON), on the magnitude and time course of core temperature (T c) responses. Methods: Pooled-data analyses were used to examine the T c responses of 157 subjects from previous postexercise CWI trials in the authors’ laboratories. CWI protocols varied with different combinations of temperature, duration, immersion depth, and mode (continuous vs intermittent). T c was examined as a double difference (ΔΔT c), calculated as the change in T c in CWI condition minus the corresponding change in CON. The effect of CWI on ΔΔT c was assessed using separate linear mixed models across 2 time components (component 1, immersion; component 2, postintervention). Results: Intermittent CWI resulted in a mean decrease in ΔΔT c that was 0.25°C (0.10°C) (estimate [SE]) greater than continuous CWI during the immersion component (P = .02). There was a significant effect of CWI temperature during the immersion component (P = .05), where reductions in water temperature of 1°C resulted in decreases in ΔΔT c of 0.03°C (0.01°C). Similarly, the effect of CWI duration was significant during the immersion component (P = .01), where every 1 min of immersion resulted in a decrease in ΔΔT c of 0.02°C (0.01°C). The peak difference in T c between the CWI and CON interventions during the postimmersion component occurred at 60 min postintervention. Conclusions: Variations in CWI mode, duration, and temperature may have a significant effect on the extent of change in T c. Careful consideration should be given to determine the optimal amount of core cooling before deciding which combination of protocol factors to prescribe.

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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.