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Trent Stellingwerff, David B. Pyne and Louise M. Burke

Elite athletes who compete in aquatic sports face the constant challenge of arduous training and competition schedules in difficult and changing environmental conditions. The huge range of water temperatures to which swimmers and other aquatic athletes are often exposed (16–31 °C for open-water swimming), coupled with altered aquatic thermoregulatory responses as compared with terrestrial athletes, can challenge the health, safety, and performance of these athletes. Other environmental concerns include air and water pollution, altitude, and jetlag and travel fatigue. However, these challenging environments provide the potential for several nutritional interventions that can mitigate the negative effects and enhance adaptation and performance. These interventions include providing adequate hydration and carbohydrate and iron intake while at altitude; optimizing body composition and fluid and carbohydrate intake when training or competing in varying water temperatures; and maximizing fluid and food hygiene when traveling. There is also emerging information on nutritional interventions to manage jetlag and travel fatigue, such as the timing of food intake and the strategic use of caffeine or melatonin. Aquatic athletes often undertake their major global competitions where accommodations feature cafeteria-style buffet eating. These environments can often lead to inappropriate choices in the type and quantity of food intake, which is of particular concern to divers and synchronized swimmers who compete in physique-specific sports, as well as swimmers who have a vastly reduced energy expenditure during their taper. Taken together, planned nutrition and hydration interventions can have a favorable impact on aquatic athletes facing varying environmental challenges.

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Jennifer Sygo, Alicia Kendig Glass, Sophie C. Killer and Trent Stellingwerff

Athletes participating in the athletics (track and field) events of jumps, throws, and combined events (CEs; seven-event heptathlon and 10-event decathlon) engage in training and competition that emphasize speed and explosive movements, requiring optimal power–weight ratios. While these athletes represent a wide range of somatotypes, they share an emphasis on Type IIa and IIx muscle fiber typing. In general, athletes competing in jumps tend to have a lower body mass and may benefit from a higher protein (1.5–1.8 g PRO·kg−1·day−1) and lower carbohydrate (3–6 g CHO·kg−1·day−1) diet. Throwers tend to have a higher body mass, but with considerable differences between events. Their intense, whole-body training program suggests higher PRO requirements (1.5–2.2 g PRO·kg−1·day−1), while CHO needs (per kg) are similar to jumpers. The CE athletes must strike a balance between strength and muscle mass for throws and sprints, while maintaining a low enough body mass to maximize performance in jumps and middle-distance events. CE athletes may benefit from a higher PRO (1.5–2 g PRO·kg−1·day−1) and moderate CHO (5–8 g CHO·kg−1·day−1) diet with good energy availability to support multiple daily training sessions. Since they compete over 2 days, well-rehearsed competition-day fueling and recovery strategies are imperative for CE athletes. Depending on their events’ bioenergetic demands, athletes in throws, jumps, and CE may benefit from the periodized use of ergogenic aids, including creatine, caffeine, and/or beta-alanine. The diverse training demands, physiques, and competitive environments of jumpers, throwers, and CE athletes necessitate nutrition interventions that are periodized throughout the season and tailored to the individual needs of the athlete.

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Trent Stellingwerff, James P. Morton and Louise M. Burke

Over the last decade, in support of training periodization, there has been an emergence around the concept of nutritional periodization. Within athletics (track and field), the science and art of periodization is a cornerstone concept with recent commentaries emphasizing the underappreciated complexity associated with predictable performance on demand. Nevertheless, with varying levels of evidence, sport and event specific sequencing of various training units and sessions (long [macrocycle; months], medium [mesocycle; weeks], and short [microcycle; days and within-day duration]) is a routine approach to training periodization. Indeed, implementation of strategic temporal nutrition interventions (macro, meso, and micro) can support and enhance training prescription and adaptation, as well as acute event specific performance. However, a general framework on how, why, and when nutritional periodization could be implemented has not yet been established. It is beyond the scope of this review to highlight every potential nutritional periodization application. Instead, this review will focus on a generalized framework, with specific examples of macro-, meso-, and microperiodization for the macronutrients of carbohydrates, and, by extension, fat. More specifically, the authors establish the evidence and rationale for situations of acute high carbohydrate availability, as well as the evidence for more chronic manipulation of carbohydrates coupled with training. The topic of periodized nutrition has made considerable gains over the last decade but is ripe for further scientific progress and field application.

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Rob Gathercole, Ben Sporer, Trent Stellingwerff and Gord Sleivert

Purpose:

To examine the reliability and magnitude of change after fatiguing exercise in the countermovement-jump (CMJ) test and determine its suitability for the assessment of fatigue-induced changes in neuromuscular (NM) function. A secondary aim was to examine the usefulness of a set of alternative CMJ variables (CMJ-ALT) related to CMJ mechanics.

Methods:

Eleven male college-level team-sport athletes performed 6 CMJ trials on 6 occasions. A total of 22 variables, 16 typical (CMJ-TYP) and 6 CMJ-ALT, were examined. CMJ reproducibility (coefficient of variation; CV) was examined on participants’ first 3 visits. The next 3 visits (at 0, 24, and 72 h postexercise) followed a fatiguing high-intensity intermittent-exercise running protocol. Meaningful differences in CMJ performance were examined through effect sizes (ES) and comparisons to interday CV.

Results:

Most CMJ variables exhibited intraday (n = 20) and interday (n = 21) CVs of <10%. ESs ranging from trivial to moderate were observed in 18 variables at 0 h (immediately postfatigue). Mean power, peak velocity, flight time, force at zero velocity, and area under the force–velocity trace showed changes greater than the CV in most individuals. At 24 h, most variables displayed trends toward a return to baseline. At 72 h, small increases were observed in time-related CMJ variables, with mean changes also greater than the CV.

Conclusions:

The CMJ test appears a suitable athlete-monitoring method for NM-fatigue detection. However, the current approach (ie, CMJ-TYP) may overlook a number of key fatigue-related changes, and so practitioners are advised to also adopt variables that reflect the NM strategy used.

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Tyler L. Goodale, Tim J. Gabbett, Ming-Chang Tsai, Trent Stellingwerff and Jeremy Sheppard

Purpose:

To evaluate the effects of contextual game factors on activity and physiological profiles of international-level women’s rugby sevens players.

Methods:

Twenty international-level female rugby sevens players from the same national team participated in this study. Global positioning system and heart-rate data were collected at 5 World Rugby Women’s Sevens Series events (2013–14 season).

Results:

Total, moderate-speed (0.2–3.5 m/s), and high-speed running (3.5–5.0 m/s) distances were significantly greater in the first half (20.1% ± 4.1%, 17.6% ± 6.9%, 24.5% ± 7.8%), during losses (11.4% ± 6.1%, 6.1% ± 6.4%, 26.9% ± 9.8%), during losses of large magnitudes (≥2 tries) (12.9% ± 8.8%, 6.8% ± 10.0%, 31.2% ± 14.9%), and against top-4 opponents (12.6% ± 8.7%, 11.3% ± 8.5%, 15.5% ± 13.9%). In addition, total distance increased (5.0% ± 5.5%) significantly from day 1 to day 2 of tournaments, and very-high-speed (5.0–6.5 m/s) running distance increased significantly (26.0% ± 14.2%) during losses. Time spent between 90% and 100% of maximum heart rate (16.4% ± 14.5%) and player load (19.0% ± 5.1%) were significantly greater in the second half. No significant differences in physiological or activity profiles were observed between forwards and backs.

Conclusions:

Game half, game outcome, tournament day, opponent rank, and margin of outcome all affected activity profiles, whereas game half affected physiological profiles. No differences in activity or physiological profiles were found between playing positions. Practitioners are advised to develop high-speed running ability in women’s rugby sevens players to prepare them to tolerate the varying factors that affect activity profiles.

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Beate Pfeiffer, Alexandra Cotterill, Dominik Grathwohl, Trent Stellingwerff and Asker E. Jeukendrup

Two studies were conducted to investigate gastrointestinal (GI) tolerance of high carbohydrate (CHO) intakes during intense running. The first study investigated tolerance of a CHO gel delivering glucose plus fructose (GLU+FRC) at different rates. The second study investigated tolerance of high intakes of glucose (GLU) vs. GLU+FRC gel. Both studies used a randomized, 2-treatment, 2-period crossover design: Endurance-trained men and women (Study 1: 26 men, 8 women; 37 ± 11 yr; 73 ± 9 kg; 1.76 ± 0.07 m. Study 2: 34 men, 14 women; 35 ± 10 yr; 70 ± 9 kg; 1.75 ± 0.09 m) completed two 16-km outdoor-runs. In Study 1 gels were administered to provide 1.0 or 1.4 g CHO/min with ad libitum water intake every 3.2 km. In Study 2 GLU or GLU+FRC gels were given in a double-blind manner to provide 1.4 g CHO/min. In both studies a postexercise questionnaire assessed 17 symptoms on a 10-point scale (from 0 to 9). For all treatments, GI complaints were mainly scored at the low end of the scale. In Study 1 mean scores ranged from 0.00 ± 0.00 to 1.12 ± 1.90, and in Study 2, from 0.00 ± 0.0 to 1.27 ± 1.78. GI symptoms were grouped into upper abdominal, lower abdominal, and systemic problems. There were no significant treatment differences in these categories in either study. In conclusion, despite high CHOgel intake, and regardless of the blend (GLU vs. GLU+FRC), average scores for GI symptoms were at the low end of the scale, indicating predominantly good tolerance during a 16-km run. Nevertheless, some runners (~10–20%) experienced serious problems, and individualized feeding strategies might be required.

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Hermann Zbinden-Foncea, Isabel Rada, Jesus Gomez, Marco Kokaly, Trent Stellingwerff, Louise Deldicque and Luis Peñailillo

Purpose: To examine the effects of a moderate dose of caffeine in elite male volleyball players on countermovement-jump (CMJ) performance, as well as temporal concentric- and eccentric-phase effects. Methods: Ten elite male volleyball players took part in 2 experimental days via a randomized crossover trial 1 wk apart in which they ingested either 5 mg/kg of caffeine or a placebo in double-blind fashion. Heart rate and blood pressure were measured at rest and 60 min postingestion. Afterward, subjects also performed 3 CMJ trials 60 min postingestion, of which the average was used for further analysis. They filled out a questionnaire on possible side effects 24 h posttrial. Results: Caffeine intake, compared with placebo, increased CMJ peak concentric force (6.5% ± 6.4%; P = .01), peak power (16.2% ± 8.3%; P < .01), flight time (5.3% ± 3.4%; P < .01), velocity at peak power (10.6% ± 8.0%; P < .01), peak displacement (10.8% ± 6.5%; P < .01), peak velocity (12.6% ± 7.4%; P < .01), peak acceleration (13.5% ± 8.5%; P < .01), and the force developed at peak power (6.0% ± 4.0%; P < .01) and reduced the time between peak power and peak force (16.7% ± 21.6%, P = .04). Caffeine increased diastolic blood pressure by 13.0% ± 8.9% (P < .05), whereas no adverse side effects were found. Conclusions: The ingestion of 5 mg/kg of anhydrous caffeine improves overall CMJ performance without inducing side effects.

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Dana M. Lis, Trent Stellingwerff, Cecilia M. Shing, Kiran D.K. Ahuja and James W. Fell

Adherence to a gluten-free diet (GFD) for nonceliac athletes (NCA) has become increasingly popular despite a paucity of supportive medical or ergogenic evidence. This study aimed to quantify the demographics of NCA and determine associated experiences, perceptions, and sources of information related to GFD. Athletes (n = 910, female = 528, no gender selected = 5) completed a 17-question online survey. Forty-one percent of NCA respondents, including 18-world and/or Olympic medalists, follow a GFD 50–100% of the time (GFD > 50): only 13% for treatment of reported medical conditions with 57% self-diagnosing their gluten sensitivity. The GFD > 50 group characteristics included predominantly endurance sport athletes (70.0%) at the recreationally competitive level (32.3%), between 31 and 40 years of age (29.1%). Those who follow a GFD > 50 reported experiencing, abdominal/gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms alone (16.7%) or in conjunction with two (30.7%) or three (35.7%) additional symptoms (e.g., fatigue) believed to be triggered by gluten. Eighty-four percent of GFD > 50 indicated symptom improvement with gluten-removal. Symptom-based and non-symptom-based self-diagnosed gluten-sensitivity (56.7%) was the primary reason for adopting a GFD. Leading sources of GFD information were online (28.7%), trainer/coach (26.2%) and other athletes (17.4%). Although 5–10% of the general population is estimated to benefit clinically from a GFD a higher prevalence of GFD adherence was found in NCA (41.2%). Prescription of a GFD among many athletes does not result from evidence-based practice suggesting that adoption of a GFD in the majority of cases was not based on medical rationale and may be driven by perception that gluten removal provides health benefits and an ergogenic edge in NCA.

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Ida A. Heikura, Louise M. Burke, Antti A. Mero, Arja Leena Tuulia Uusitalo and Trent Stellingwerff

We investigated one week of dietary microperiodization in elite female (n = 23) and male (n = 15) runners and race-walkers by examining the frequency of training sessions and recovery periods conducted with recommended carbohydrate (CHO) and protein availability. Food and training diaries were recorded in relation to HARD (intense or >90min sessions; KEY) versus RECOVERY days (other-than KEY sessions; EASY). The targets for amount and timing of CHO and protein around KEY sessions were based on current nutrition recommendations. Relative daily energy and CHO intake was significantly (p < .05) higher in males (224 ± 26 kJ/kg/d, 7.3 ± 1.4 g/kg/d CHO) than females (204 ± 29 kJ/kg/d, 6.2 ± 1.1 g/kg/d CHO) on HARD days. However, when adjusted for training volume (km), there was no sex-based difference in CHO intake daily (HARD: 0.42 ± 0.14 vs 0.39 ± 0.15 g/kg/km). Females appeared to periodize energy and protein intake with greater intakes on HARD training days (204 ± 29 vs 187 ± 35 kJ/kg/d, p = .004; 2.0 ± 0.3 vs 1.9 ± 0.3 g/kg/d protein, p = .013), while males did not periodize intakes. Females showed a pattern of periodization of postexercise CHO for KEY vs EASY (0.9 ± 0.4 vs 0.5 ± 0.3 g/kg; p < .05) while males had higher intakes but only modest periodization (1.3 ± 0.9 vs 1.0 ± 0.4; p = .32). There was only modest evidence from female athletes of systematic microperiodization of eating patterns to meet contemporary sports nutrition guidelines. While this pattern of periodization was absent in males, in general they consumed more energy and CHO daily and around training sessions compared with females. Elite endurance athletes do not seem to systematically follow the most recent sports nutrition guidelines of periodized nutrition.

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Rebecca Louise Jones, Trent Stellingwerff, Guilherme Giannini Artioli, Bryan Saunders, Simon Cooper and Craig Sale

To defend against hydrogen cation accumulation and muscle fatigue during exercise, sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) ingestion is commonplace. The individualized dose-response relationship between NaHCO3 ingestion and blood biochemistry is unclear. The present study investigated the bicarbonate, pH, base excess and sodium responses to NaHCO3 ingestion. Sixteen healthy males (23 ± 2 years; 78.6 ± 15.1 kg) attended three randomized order-balanced, nonblinded sessions, ingesting a single dose of either 0.1, 0.2 or 0.3 g·kg-1BM of NaHCO3 (Intralabs, UK). Fingertip capillary blood was obtained at baseline and every 10 min for 1 hr, then every 15 min for a further 2 hr. There was a significant main effect of both time and condition for all assessed blood analytes (p ≤ .001). Blood analyte responses were significantly lower following 0.1 g·kg-1BM compared with 0.2 g·kg-1BM; bicarbonate concentrations and base excess were highest following ingestion of 0.3 g·kg-1BM (p ≤ .01). Bicarbonate concentrations and pH significantly increased from baseline following all doses; the higher the dose the greater the increase. Large interindividual variability was shown in the magnitude of the increase in bicarbonate concentrations following each dose (+2.0–5; +5.1–8.1; and +6.0–12.3 mmol·L-1 for 0.1, 0.2 and 0.3 g·kg-1BM) and in the range of time to peak concentrations (30–150; 40–165; and 75–180 min for 0.1, 0.2 and 0.3 g·kg-1BM). The variability in bicarbonate responses was not affected by normalization to body mass. These results challenge current practices relating to NaHCO3 supplementation and clearly show the need for athletes to individualize their ingestion protocol and trial varying dosages before competition.