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Open access

Dana M. Lis, Daniel Kings, and D. Enette Larson-Meyer

Some track-and-field athletes implement special diets aiming to improve health and/or performance. An evidence-based approach to any diet is recommended to minimize the risks associated with unnecessary dietary restriction, which may potentially do more harm than good. Four prevalent diets are reviewed in this study: (a) gluten-free; (b) low fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAP); (c) vegetarian; and (d) fasting diets. Recently, gluten-free diets and low FODMAP diets have emerged as novel regimes thought to improve gastrointestinal health and reduce the risk of exercise-associated gastrointestinal symptoms. No direct beneficial outcomes have been associated with avoiding gluten for clinically healthy athletes. Indirectly, a gluten-free diet is associated with other dietary changes, particularly FODMAP reduction, which may improve adverse gastrointestinal symptoms. Vegetarian diets can optimally support athletic demands. However, attention is required to ensure adequate energy and intake of specific nutrients that are less abundant or less well absorbed from plant sources. Finally, fasting is a long-standing concept that is undertaken on a voluntary and obligatory basis. Despite limited supporting research, voluntary fasting is a popular alternative to conventional diets perceptually offering health and body composition benefits. Strict obligatory fasting guidelines likely require the implementation of tailored nutrition strategies to help athletes cope with athletic demands. Overall, a multitude of factors influence adherence to special diets. Even when adherence to a special diet is a necessity, education and advice from an accredited dietitian/nutritionist are recommended for track-and-field athletes to optimize nutrition for health and performance.

Full access

Dana M. Lis, Matthew Jordan, Timothy Lipuma, Tayler Smith, Karine Schaal, and Keith Baar

Background: Exercise and vitamin C-enriched collagen supplementation increase collagen synthesis, potentially increasing matrix density, stiffness, and force transfer. Purpose: To determine whether vitamin C-enriched collagen (hydrolyzed collagen [HC] + C) supplementation improves rate of force development (RFD) alongside a strength training program. Methods: Using a double-blinded parallel design, over 3 weeks, healthy male athletes (n = 50, 18–25 years) were randomly assigned to the intervention (HC + C; 20 g HC + 50 mg vitamin C) or placebo (20 g maltodextrin). Supplements were ingested daily 60 min prior to training. Athletes completed the same targeted maximal muscle power training program. Maximal isometric squats, countermovement jumps, and squat jumps were performed on a force plate at the same time each testing day (baseline, Tests 1, 2, and 3) to measure RFD and maximal force development. Mixed-model analysis of variance compared performance variables across the study timeline, whereas tests were used to compare the change between baseline and Test 3. Results: Over 3 weeks, maximal RFD in the HC + C group returned to baseline, whereas the placebo group remained depressed (p = .18). While both groups showed a decrease in RFD through Test 2, only the treatment group recovered RFD to baseline by Test 3 (p = .036). In the HC + C group, change in countermovement jumps eccentric deceleration impulse (p = .008) and eccentric deceleration RFD (p = .04) was improved. A strong trend was observed for lower limb stiffness assessed in the countermovement jumps (p = .08). No difference was observed in maximal force or squat jump parameters. Conclusion: The HC + C supplementation improved RFD in the squat and countermovement jump alongside training.

Open access

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.