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The Effects of Postexercise Consumption of High-Molecular-Weight Versus Low-Molecular-Weight Carbohydrate Solutions on Subsequent High-Intensity Interval-Running Capacity

Chris McGlory and James P. Morton

The aim of this study was to determine the effects of postexercise ingestion of different-molecular-weight glucose polymer solutions on subsequent high-intensity interval-running capacity. In a repeated-measures design, 6 men ran for 60 min in the morning at 70% VO2max. Immediately post- and at 1 and 2 hr postexercise, participants consumed a 15% low-molecular-weight (LMW) or high-molecular-weight (HMW) carbohydrate solution, at a rate of 1.2 g of carbohydrate/kg body mass, or an equivalent volume of flavored water (WAT). After recovery, participants performed repeated 1-min intervals at 90% VO2max interspersed with 1 min active recovery (walking) until volitional exhaustion. Throughout the 3-hr recovery period, plasma glucose concentrations were higher (p = .002) during the HMW and LMW conditions than with WAT (M 7.0 ± 0.8, 7.5 ± 1.0, and 5.6 ± 0.2 mmol/L, respectively), although there was no difference (p = .723) between HMW and LMW conditions. Exercise capacity was 13 (43 ± 10 min; 95% CI for differences: 8–18; p = .001) and 11 min (41 ± 9 min; 95% CI for differences; 2–18: p = .016) longer with HMW and LMW solutions, respectively, than with WAT (30 ± 9 min). There was no substantial difference (2 min; 95% CI for differences: –5 to 10; p = .709) in exercise capacity between LMW and HMW solutions. Although this magnitude of difference is most likely trivial in nature, the uncertainty allows for a possible small substantial enhancement of physiological significance, and further research is required to clarify the true nature of the effect.

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Extreme Variation of Nutritional Composition and Osmolality of Commercially Available Carbohydrate Energy Gels

Xuguang Zhang, Niamh O’Kennedy, and James P. Morton

The provision of exogenous carbohydrate (CHO) in the form of energy gels is regularly practiced among endurance and team sport athletes. However, in those instances where athletes ingest suboptimal fluid intake, consuming gels during exercise may lead to gastrointestinal (GI) problems when the nutritional composition of the gel is not aligned with promoting gastric emptying. Accordingly, the aim of the current study was to quantify the degree of diversity in nutritional composition of commercially available CHO gels intended for use in the global sports nutrition market. We surveyed 31 product ranges (incorporating 51 flavor variants) from 23 brands (Accelerade, CNP, High5, GU, Hammer, Maxim, Clif, USN, Mule, Multipower, Nectar, Carb-Boom, Power Bar, Lucozade, Shotz, TORQ, Dextro, Kinetica, SiS, Zipvit, Maxifuel, Gatorade and Squeezy). Gels differed markedly in serving size (50 ± 22 g: 29–120), energy density (2.34 ± 0.7 kcal/g: 0.83–3.40), energy content (105 ± 24 kcal: 78–204), CHO content (26 ± 6 g: 18–51) and free sugar content (9.3 ± 7.0 g: 0.6–26.8). Most notably, gels displayed extreme variation in osmolality (4424 ± 2883 mmol/kg: 303–10,135) thereby having obvious implications for both GI discomfort and the total fluid intake likely required to optimize CHO delivery and oxidation. The large diversity of nutritional composition of commercially available CHO gels illustrate that not all gels should be considered the same. Sports nutrition practitioners should therefore consider the aforementioned variables to make better-informed decisions regarding which gel product best suits the athlete’s specific fueling and hydration requirements.

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Worth the Weight? Post Weigh-In Rapid Weight Gain is Not Related to Winning or Losing in Professional Mixed Martial Arts

Christopher Kirk, Carl Langan-Evans, and James P. Morton

Body mass (BM) manipulation via rapid weight loss (RWL) and rapid weight gain (RWG) is a common practice among mixed martial art (MMA) athletes to ensure qualification for the division in which the athlete wishes to compete. Professional MMA competitors in California are required to weigh in twice: 24 hr prior to competition and immediately prior to the bout after they have typically engaged in RWG. In analyzing data from five MMA events sanctioned by the Californian State Athletic Commission, the authors used Bayesian analyses to compare bout winners (n = 62) and losers (n = 62) in terms of in-competition BM (in kilograms) and the amount of BM regained between the two weigh-ins (in kilograms). These data do not support the hypothesis that differences in in-competition BM (Bayes factor [BF10] = 0.667, d = 0.23) or the amount of BM regained between the two weigh-ins (BF10 = 0.821, d = 0.23) determine winning or losing. In addition, there was no statistical difference between bouts ending via strikes, submission, or decision for either in-competition BM (BF10 = 0.686, ω2 < 0.01) or the amount of BM regained between the two weigh-ins (BF10 = 0.732, ω2 = 0.054). In conclusion, the authors report for the first time that the magnitude of RWG does not predict winning or losing in a professional cohort of MMA athletes. In addition, they also report that MMA athletes typically compete at a BM that is at least 1–2 divisions higher than the division in which they officially weighed-in. These analyses may provide impetus for governing bodies and coaches to enact changes at both professional and amateur levels to reduce negative health consequences associated with extreme RWL and RWG.

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Making the Weight: A Case Study From Professional Boxing

James P. Morton, Colin Robertson, Laura Sutton, and Don P. M

Professional boxing is a combat sport categorized into a series of weight classes. Given the sport’s underpinning culture, boxers’ typical approach to “making weight” is usually via severe acute and/or chronic energy restriction and dehydration. Such practices have implications for physical performance and also carry health risks. This article provides a case-study account outlining a more structured and gradual approach to helping a professional male boxer make weight for the 59-kg superfeatherweight division. Over a 12-week period, the client athlete adhered to a daily diet approximately equivalent to his resting metabolic rate (6–7 MJ; 40% carbohydrate, 38% protein, 22% fat). Average body-mass loss was 0.9 ± 0.4 kg/wk, equating to a total loss of 9.4 kg. This weight loss resulted in a decrease in percent body fat from 12.1% to 7.0%. In the 30 hr between weigh-in and competition, the client consumed a high-carbohydrate diet (12 g/kg body mass) supported by appropriate hydration strategies and subsequently entered the ring at a fighting weight of 63.2 kg. This nutritional strategy represented a major change in the client’s habitual weight-making practices and did not rely on any form of intended dehydration during the training period or before weighing in. The intervention demonstrates that a more gradual approach to making weight in professional boxing can be successfully achieved via a combination of restricted energy intake and increased energy expenditure, providing there is willingness on the part of the athlete and coaches involved to adopt novel practices.

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The Effect of Adding Caffeine to Postexercise Carbohydrate Feeding on Subsequent High-Intensity Interval-Running Capacity Compared With Carbohydrate Alone

Conor Taylor, Daniel Higham, Graeme L. Close, and James P. Morton

The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that adding caffeine to postexercise carbohydrate (CHO) feedings improves subsequent high-intensity interval-running capacity compared with CHO alone. In a repeated-measures design, 6 men performed a glycogen-depleting exercise protocol until volitional exhaustion in the morning. Immediately after and at 1, 2, and 3 hr postexercise, participants consumed 1.2 g/kg body mass CHO of a 15% CHO solution, a similar CHO solution but with addition of 8 mg/kg body mass of caffeine (CHO+CAFF), or an equivalent volume of flavored water only (WAT). After the 4-hr recovery period, participants performed the Loughborough Intermittent Shuttle Test (LIST) to volitional exhaustion as a measure of high-intensity interval-running capacity. Average blood glucose values during the 4-hr recovery period were higher in the CHO conditions (p < .005) than in the WAT trial (4.6 ± 0.3 mmol/L), although there was no difference (p = .46) between CHO (6.2 ± 0.8 mmol/L) and CHO+CAFF (6.7 ± 1.0 mmol/L). Exercise capacity during the LIST was significantly longer in the CHO+CAFF trial (48 ± 15 min) than in the CHO (32 ± 15 min, p = .04) and WAT conditions (19 ± 6 min, p = .001). All 6 participants improved performance in CHO+CAFF compared with CHO (95% CI for mean difference = 1–32 min). The study provides novel data by demonstrating that adding caffeine to postexercise CHO feeding improves subsequent high-intensity interval-running capacity, a finding that may be related to higher rates of postexercise muscle glycogen resynthesis previously observed under similar feeding conditions.

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β-Alanine Improves Punch Force and Frequency in Amateur Boxers During a Simulated Contest

Tim Donovan, Tim Ballam, James P. Morton, and Graeme L. Close

The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that β-alanine supplementation improves punch power and frequency in amateur boxers during a simulated contest. Sixteen amateur boxers (each approximately 6 yr experience) were assigned to β-alanine (n = 8; 1.5 g 4 times/d for 4 wk) or placebo supplementation (n = 8) after initially being assessed for baseline punch performance. Before and after the supplementation period, all boxers completed a simulated contest consisting of 3 × 3-min rounds (interspersed with 60-s rests) on a punching bag (with a force transducer attached). Each round involved performing 2 min 50 s standardized punching (standardized jab, cross combination) based on notation analysis, whereas the last 10 s involved maximal-output punching (standardized jab, cross combination), during which time punch force and frequency were recorded. Postcontest blood lactate was significantly increased in the β-alanine group (presupplementation 9.5 ± 0.9 mmol/L, postsupplementation 12.6 ± 0.5 mmol/L, p < .05), whereas the placebo group showed no change (presupplementation 8 ± 2.8 mmol/L, postsupplementation 7.0 ± 2.7 mmol/L; p > .05). During the 10-s maximal-output punching, changes in mean punch force (β-alanine 20 ± 1.01 kg, placebo 1 ± 1 kg) and punch frequency (β-alanine 5 ± 4, placebo –2 ± 3) were greater (p < .05) in the β-alanine-supplemented group. The authors conclude that β-alanine supplementation improves punching performance in amateur boxers and suggest that this supplementation protocol may also prove ergogenic for other combat-related sports.

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Male Flat Jockeys Do Not Display Deteriorations in Bone Density or Resting Metabolic Rate in Accordance With Race Riding Experience: Implications for RED-S

George Wilson, Dan Martin, James P. Morton, and Graeme L. Close

Despite consistent reports of poor bone health in male jockeys, it is not yet known if this is a consequence of low energy availability or lack of an osteogenic stimulus. Given the rationale that low energy availability is a contributing factor in low bone health, we tested the hypothesis that both hip and lumbar bone mineral density (BMD) should progressively worsen in accordance with the years of riding. In a cross-sectional design, male apprentice (n = 17) and senior (n = 14) jockeys (matched for body mass and fat-free mass) were assessed for hip and lumbar spine BMD, as well as both measured and predicted resting metabolic rate (RMR). Despite differences (p < .05) in years of race riding (3.4 ± 2 vs. 16.3 ± 6.8), no differences were apparent (p > .05) in hip (−0.9 ± 1.1 vs. −0.8 ± 0.7) and lumbar Z-scores (−1.3 ± 1.4 vs. −1.5 ± 1) or measured RMR (1,459 ± 160 vs. 1,500 ± 165 kcal/day) between apprentices and senior jockeys, respectively. Additionally, years of race riding did not demonstrate any significant correlations (p > .05) with either hip or lumbar spine BMD. Measured RMR was also not different (p > .05) from predicted RMR in either apprentice (1,520 ± 44 kcal/day) or senior jockeys (1,505 ± 70 kcal/day). When considered with previously published data examining underreporting of energy intake and direct assessments of energy expenditure, we suggest that low BMD in jockeys is not due to low energy availability per se but rather the lack of an osteogenic stimulus associated with riding.

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N-Acetylcysteine’s Attenuation of Fatigue After Repeated Bouts of Intermittent Exercise: Practical Implications for Tournament Situations

James N. Cobley, Chris McGlory, James P. Morton, and Graeme L. Close

Production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) during muscle contractions is associated with muscle fatigue and damage in the short term and adaptive responses in the long term. When adaptation is inconsequential acute antioxidant supplementation may be able to attenuate muscle fatigue and damage to enhance performance. This study aimed to determine the effects of acute oral N-acetylcysteine (NAC) supplementation on Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test Level 1 (YIRT-L1) performance after repeated bouts of damaging intermittent exercise. In a pair-matched design, 12 recreationally trained men engaged in 6 d of either NAC (n = 6) or placebo (n = 6) supplementation. After a treatment-loading day, participants completed 3 testing sessions, on alternating days, consisting of a preexercise isokinetic dynamometry (IKD) test, a damaging intermittent-exercise protocol, YIRT-L1, and a postexercise IKD test. Another IKD test was completed on the 2 intervening d. NAC treatment resulted in a significant preservation of YIRT-L1 performance (p ≤ .0005). IKD performance significantly deteriorated over time at all contraction speeds, and this deterioration was not influenced by treatment group. Plasma creatine kinase values increased significantly over time (p = .002) and were significantly greater in the NAC group than in the placebo group (p = .029). NAC induced mild gastrointestinal side effects. NAC supplementation may be a useful strategy to enhance performance during short-term competitive situations when adaption is inconsequential. Titration studies to elucidate a treatment dose that enhances performance without inducing side effects are now required.

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Case Study: Muscle Atrophy and Hypertrophy in a Premier League Soccer Player During Rehabilitation From ACL Injury

Jordan Milsom, Paulo Barreira, Darren J. Burgess, Zafar Iqbal, and James P. Morton

The onset of injury and subsequent period of immobilization and disuse present major challenges to maintenance of skeletal muscle mass and function. Although the characteristics of immobilization-induced muscle atrophy are well documented in laboratory studies, comparable data from elite athletes in free-living conditions are not readily available. We present a 6-month case-study account from a professional soccer player of the English Premier League characterizing rates of muscle atrophy and hypertrophy (as assessed by DXA) during immobilization and rehabilitation after ACL injury. During 8 weeks of inactivity and immobilization, where the athlete adhered to a low carbohydrate-high protein diet, total body mass decreased by 5 kg attributable to 5.8 kg loss and 0.8 kg gain in lean and fat mass, respectively. Changes in whole-body lean mass was attributable to comparable relative decreases in the trunk (12%, 3.8 kg) and immobilized limb (13%, 1.4 kg) whereas the nonimmobilized limb exhibited smaller declines (7%, 0.8 kg). In Weeks 8 to 24, the athlete adhered to a moderate carbohydrate-high protein diet combined with structured resistance and field based training for both the lower and upper-body that resulted in whole-body muscle hypertrophy (varying from 0.5 to 1 kg per week). Regional hypertrophy was particularly pronounced in the trunk and nonimmobilized limb during weeks 8 to 12 (2.6 kg) and 13 to 16 (1.3 kg), respectively, whereas the previously immobilized limb exhibited slower but progressive increases in lean mass from Week 12 to 24 (1.2 kg). The athlete presented after the totality of the injured period with an improved anthropometrical and physical profile.

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An Assessment of the Validity of the Remote Food Photography Method (Termed Snap-N-Send) in Experienced and Inexperienced Sport Nutritionists

Reuben G. Stables, Andreas M. Kasper, S. Andy Sparks, James P. Morton, and Graeme L. Close

The remote food photography method, often referred to as “Snap-N-Send” by sport nutritionists, has been reported as a valid method to assess energy intake in athletic populations. However, preliminary studies were not conducted in true free-living conditions, and dietary assessment was performed by one researcher only. The authors, therefore, assessed the validity of Snap-N-Send to assess the energy and macronutrient composition in experienced (EXP, n = 23) and inexperienced (INEXP, n = 25) sport nutritionists. The participants analyzed 2 days of dietary photographs, comprising eight meals. Day 1 consisted of “simple” meals based around easily distinguishable foods (i.e., chicken breast and rice), and Day 2 consisted of “complex” meals, containing “hidden” ingredients (i.e., chicken curry). The estimates of dietary intake were analyzed for validity using one-sample t tests and typical error of estimates (TEE). The INEXP and EXP nutritionists underestimated energy intake for the simple day (mean difference [MD] = −1.5 MJ, TEE = 10.1%; −1.2 MJ, TEE = 9.3%, respectively) and the complex day (MD = −1.2 MJ, TEE = 17.8%; MD = −0.6 MJ, 14.3%, respectively). Carbohydrate intake was underestimated by INEXP (MD = −65.5 g/day, TEE = 10.8% and MD = −28.7 g/day, TEE = 24.4%) and EXP (MD = −53.4 g/day, TEE = 10.1% and −19.9 g/day, TEE = 17.5%) for both the simple and complex days, respectively. Interpractitioner reliability was generally “poor” for energy and macronutrients. The data demonstrate that the remote food photography method/Snap-N-Send underestimates energy intake in simple and complex meals, and these errors are evident in the EXP and INEXP sport nutritionists.