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Case Study: Nutritional and Lifestyle Support to Reduce Infection Incidence in an International-Standard Premier League Soccer Player

Mayur K. Ranchordas, Laurent Bannock, and Scott L. Robinson

Professional soccer players are exposed to large amounts of physiological and psychological stress, which can increase infection risk and threaten availability for training and competition. Accordingly, it is important for practitioners to implement strategies that support player well-being and prevent illness. This case study demonstrates how a scientifically supported and practically applicable nutrition and lifestyle strategy can reduce infection incidence in an illness-prone professional soccer player. In the 3 months before the intervention, the player had 3 upper-respiratory tract infections (URTIs) and subsequently missed 3 competitive matches and 2 weeks’ training. He routinely commenced morning training sessions in the fasted state and was estimated to be in a large daily energy deficit. Throughout the 12-week intervention, the amount, composition, and timing of energy intake was altered, quercetin and vitamin D were supplemented, and the player was provided with a daily sleep and hygiene protocol. There was a positive increase in serum vitamin D 25(OH) concentration from baseline to Week 12 (53 n·mol-1 to 120 n·mol-1) and salivary immunoglobulin-A (98 mg·dl-1 to 135 mg·dl-1), as well as a decline in the number of URTI symptoms (1.8 ± 2.0 vs. 0.25 ± 0.5 for Weeks 0–4 and Weeks 8–12, respectively). More important, he maintained availability for all training and matches over the 12-week period. We offer this case study as a real-world applied example for other players and practitioners seeking to deploy nutrition and lifestyle strategies to reduce risk of illness and maximize player availability.

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Effects of Caffeinated Gum on a Battery of Soccer-Specific Tests in Trained University-Standard Male Soccer Players

Mayur K. Ranchordas, George King, Mitchell Russell, Anthony Lynn, and Mark Russell

The purpose of this study was to determine whether caffeinated gum influenced performance in a battery of soccer-specific tests used in the assessment of performance in soccer players. In a double-blind, randomized, crossover design, 10 male university-standard soccer players (age: 19 ± 1 years, stature: 1.80 ± 0.10 m, body mass: 75.5 ± 4.8 kg) masticated a caffeinated (200 mg; caffeine) or control (0 mg; placebo) gum on two separate occasions. After a standardized warm-up, gum was chewed for 5 min and subsequently expectorated 5 min before players performed a maximal countermovement jump, a 20-m sprint test, and the Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test Level 1. Performance on 20-m sprints was not different between trials (caffeine: 3.2 ± 0.3 s, placebo: 3.1 ± 0.3 s; p = .567; small effect size: d = 0.33), but caffeine did allow players to cover 2.0% more distance during Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test Level 1 (caffeine: 1,754 ± 156 m, placebo: 1,719 ± 139 m; p = .016; small effect size: d = 0.24) and increase maximal countermovement jump height by 2.2% (caffeine: 47.1 ± 3.4 cm, placebo: 46.1 ± 3.2 cm; p = .008; small effect size: d = 0.30). Performance on selected physical tests (Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test Level 1 and countermovement jump) was improved by the chewing of caffeinated gum in the immediate period before testing in university-standard soccer players, but the sizes of such effects were small. Such findings may have implications for the recommendations made to soccer players about to engage with subsequent exercise performance.

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Nutritional Considerations for Bouldering

Edward J. Smith, Ryan Storey, and Mayur K. Ranchordas

Bouldering competitions are held up to International level and governed by the International Federation of Sport Climbing. Bouldering has been selected to feature at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, however, physiological qualities and nutritional requirements to optimize performance remain inadequately defined due to large gaps in the literature. The primary goals of training include optimizing the capacity of the anaerobic energy systems and developing sport-specific strength, with emphasis on the isometric function of the forearm flexors responsible for grip. Bouldering athletes typically possess a lean physique, similar to the characteristics of sport climbers with reported body fat values of 6–12%. Athletes strive for a low body weight to improve power to weight ratio and limit the load on the extremities. Specialized nutritional support is uncommon and poor nutritional practices such as chronic carbohydrate restriction are prevalent, compromising the health of the athletes. The high intensity nature of bouldering demands a focus on adequate carbohydrate availability. Protein intake and timing should be structured to maximize muscle protein synthesis and recovery, with the literature suggesting 0.25–0.3 g/kg in 3–4 hr intervals. Supplementing with creatine and b-alanine may provide some benefit by augmenting the capacity of the anaerobic systems. Boulderers are encouraged to seek advice from nutrition experts to enhance performance, particularly important when weight loss is the desired outcome. Further research is warranted across all nutritional aspects of bouldering which is summarized in this review.

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Significant Changes in Resting Metabolic Rate Over a Competitive Match Week Are Accompanied by an Absence of Nutritional Periodization in Male Professional Soccer Players

Jennie L. Carter, David J. Lee, Craig G. Perrin, Mayur K. Ranchordas, and Matthew Cole

Resting metabolic rate (RMR) is an important component of total daily energy expenditure; however, it is currently not understood how it varies across a typical competitive match week in professional soccer players. For the first time, we aimed to assess RMR throughout an in-season competitive week in professional soccer players. Additionally, we aimed to assess energy and carbohydrate intake across the same week. Twenty-four professional soccer players from an English Premier League club (age: 18 ± 1.6 years) completed the study. RMR was assessed each morning of a typical competitive match week (match day [MD] −3, −2, −1, +1, +2, and + 3), and dietary intake (including MD) was assessed daily via the remote food photography method and 24-hr recall. Daily training load was quantified using Global Positioning System, daily muscle soreness ratings were recorded, and body composition was assessed via dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry. There was a significant (p = .0004) increase in mean RMR of ∼261 kcal/day on MD + 1, compared with MD − 1. Additionally, volume of oxygen consumed significantly increased at MD + 1 (p = .0002) versus MD − 1. There were no significant differences in daily energy or carbohydrate intake across the competitive week (p > .05), with inadequate carbohydrate intakes on MD − 1 (∼3.9 g/kg body mass), MD (∼4.2 g/kg body mass), and MD + 1 (∼3.6 g/kg body mass) in relation to current recommendations. We report, for the first time, that RMR is significantly increased following a competitive match in professional soccer players. In addition, we confirm previous findings to reinforce that players exhibit inadequate nutrition periodization practices, which may impair physical performance and recovery.