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Amelia J. Carr, Gary J. Slater, Christopher J. Gore, Brian Dawson and Louise M. Burke

Purpose:

The aim of this study was to determine the effect and reliability of acute and chronic sodium bicarbonate ingestion for 2000-m rowing ergometer performance (watts) and blood bicarbonate concentration [HCO3 ].

Methods:

In a crossover study, 7 well-trained rowers performed paired 2000-m rowing ergometer trials under 3 double-blinded conditions: (1) 0.3 grams per kilogram of body mass (g/kg BM) acute bicarbonate; (2) 0.5 g/kg BM daily chronic bicarbonate for 3 d; and (3) calcium carbonate placebo, in semi-counterbalanced order. For 2000-m performance and [HCO3 ], we examined differences in effects between conditions via pairwise comparisons, with differences interpreted in relation to the likelihood of exceeding smallest worthwhile change thresholds for each variable. We also calculated the within-subject variation (percent typical error).

Results:

There were only trivial differences in 2000-m performance between placebo (277 ± 60 W), acute bicarbonate (280 ± 65 W) and chronic bicarbonate (282 ± 65 W); however, [HCO3 ] was substantially greater after acute bicarbonate, than with chronic loading and placebo. Typical error for 2000-m mean power was 2.1% (90% confidence interval 1.4 to 4.0%) for acute bicarbonate, 3.6% (2.5 to 7.0%) for chronic bicarbonate, and 1.6% (1.1 to 3.0%) for placebo. Postsupplementation [HCO3 ] typical error was 7.3% (5.0 to 14.5%) for acute bicarbonate, 2.9% (2.0 to 5.7%) for chronic bicarbonate and 6.0% (1.4 to 11.9%) for placebo.

Conclusion:

Performance in 2000-m rowing ergometer trials may not substantially improve after acute or chronic bicarbonate loading. However, performances will be reliable with both acute and chronic bicarbonate loading protocols.

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Peter D. Kupcis, Gary J. Slater, Cathryn L. Pruscino and Justin G. Kemp

Purpose:

The effect of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) ingestion on prerace hydration status and on 2000 m ergometer performance in elite lightweight rowers was examined using a randomized, cross-over, double-blinded design.

Methods:

To simulate body mass (BM) management strategies common to lightweight rowing, oarsmen reduced BM by approx. 4% in the 24 h preceding the trials, and, in the 2 h before performance, undertook nutritional recovery consisting of mean 43.2 kJ/kg, 2.2 g of CHO per kilogram, 31.8 mg of Na+ per kilogram, 24.3 mL of H2O per kilogram, and NaHCO3 (0.3 g of NaHCO3 per kilogram BM) or placebo (PL; 0.15 g of corn flour per kilogram BM) at 70 to 90 min before racing.

Results:

At 25 min before performance, NaHCO3 had increased blood pH (7.48 ± 0.02 vs PL: 7.41 ± 0.03, P = .005) and bicarbonate concentrations (29.1 ± 1.8 vs PL: 23.9 ± 1.6 mmol/L, P < .001), whereas BM, urine specific gravity, and plasma volume changes were similar between trials. Rowing ergometer times were similar between trials (NaHCO3: 397.8 ± 12.6; PL: 398.6 ± 13.8 s, P = .417), whereas posttest bicarbonate (11.6 ± 2.3 vs 9.4 ± 1.8 mmol/L, P = .003) and lactate concentration increases (13.4 ± 1.7 vs 11.9 ± 1.9 mmol/L, P = .001) were greater with NaHCO3.

Conclusion:

Sodium bicarbonate did not further enhance rehydration or performance in lightweight rowers when undertaking recommended post-weigh-in nutritional recovery strategies.

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Christine E. Dziedzic, Megan L. Ross, Gary J. Slater and Louise M. Burke

Context:

There is interest in including recommendations for the replacement of the sodium lost in sweat in individualized hydration plans for athletes.

Purpose:

Although the regional absorbent-patch method provides a practical approach to measuring sweat sodium losses in field conditions, there is a need to understand the variability of estimates associated with this technique.

Methods:

Sweat samples were collected from the forearms, chest, scapula, and thigh of 12 cyclists during 2 standardized cycling time trials in the heat and 2 in temperate conditions. Single measure analysis of sodium concentration was conducted immediately by ion-selective electrodes (ISE). A subset of 30 samples was frozen for reanalysis of sodium concentration using ISE, flame photometry (FP), and conductivity (SC).

Results:

Sweat samples collected in hot conditions produced higher sweat sodium concentrations than those from the temperate environment (P = .0032). A significant difference (P = .0048) in estimates of sweat sodium concentration was evident when calculated from the forearm average (mean ± 95% CL; 64 ± 12 mmol/L) compared with using a 4-site equation (70 ± 12 mmol/L). There was a high correlation between the values produced using different analytical techniques (r 2 = .95), but mean values were different between treatments (frozen FP, frozen SC > immediate ISE > frozen ISE; P < .0001).

Conclusion:

Whole-body sweat sodium concentration estimates differed depending on the number of sites included in the calculation. Environmental testing conditions should be considered in the interpretation of results. The impact of sample freezing and subsequent analytical technique was small but statistically significant. Nevertheless, when undertaken using a standardized protocol, the regional absorbent-patch method appears to be a relatively robust field test.

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Reid Reale, Gary Slater, Gregory R. Cox, Ian C. Dunican and Louise M. Burke

Novel methods of acute weight loss practiced by combat sport athletes include “water loading,” the consumption of large fluid volumes for several days prior to restriction. We examined claims that this technique increases total body water losses, while also assessing the risk of hyponatremia. Male athletes were separated into control (n = 10) and water loading (n = 11) groups and fed a standardized energy-matched diet for 6 days. Days 1–3 fluid intake was 40 and 100 ml/kg for control and water loading groups, respectively, with both groups consuming 15 ml/kg on Day 4 and following the same rehydration protocol on Days 5 and 6. We tracked body mass (BM), urine sodium, urine specific gravity and volume, training-related sweat losses and blood concentrations of renal hormones, and urea and electrolytes throughout. Physical performance was assessed preintervention and postintervention. Following fluid restriction, there were substantial differences between groups in the ratio of fluid input/output (39%, p < .01, effect size = 1.2) and BM loss (0.6% BM, p = .02, effect size = 0.82). Changes in urine specific gravity, urea and electrolytes, and renal hormones occurred over time (p < .05), with an interaction of time and intervention on blood sodium, potassium, chloride, urea, creatinine, urine specific gravity, and vasopressin (p < .05). Measurements of urea and electrolyte remained within reference ranges, and no differences in physical performance were detected over time or between groups. Water loading appears to be a safe and effective method of acute BM loss under the conditions of this study. Vasopressin-regulated changes in aquaporin channels may potentially partially explain the mechanism of increased body water loss with water loading.

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Alisa Nana, Gary J. Slater, Will G. Hopkins and Louise M. Burke

Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is becoming a popular tool to measure body composition, owing to its ease of operation and comprehensive analysis. However, some people, especially athletes, are taller and/or broader than the active scanning area of the DXA bed and must be scanned in sections. The aim of this study was to investigate the reliability of DXA measures of whole-body composition summed from 2 or 3 partial scans. Physically active young adults (15 women, 15 men) underwent 1 whole-body and 4 partial DXA scans in a single testing session under standardized conditions. The partial scanning areas were head, whole body from the bottom of the chin down, and right and left sides of the body. Body-composition estimates from whole body were compared with estimates from summed partial scans to simulate different techniques to accommodate tall and/or broad subjects relative to the whole-body scan. Magnitudes of differences in the estimates were assessed by standardization. In simulating tall subjects, summation of partial scans that included the head scan overestimated whole-body composition by ~3 kg of lean mass and ~1 kg of fat mass, with substantial technical error of measurement. In simulating broad subjects, summation of right and left body scans produced no substantial differences in body composition than those of the whole-body scan. Summing partial DXA scans provides accurate body-composition estimates for broad subjects, but other strategies are needed to accommodate tall subjects.

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Amelia J. Carr, Gary J. Slater, Christopher J. Gore, Brian Dawson and Louise M. Burke

Context:

Sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) is often ingested at a dose of 0.3 g/kg body mass (BM), but ingestion protocols are inconsistent in terms of using solution or capsules, ingestion period, combining NaHCO3 with sodium citrate (Na3C6H5O7), and coingested food and fluid.

Purpose:

To quantify the effect of ingesting 0.3 g/kg NaHCO3 on blood pH, [HCO3−], and gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms over the subsequent 3 hr using a range of ingestion protocols and, thus, to determine an optimal protocol.

Methods:

In a crossover design, 13 physically active subjects undertook 8 NaHCO3 experimental ingestion protocols and 1 placebo protocol. Capillary blood was taken every 30 min and analyzed for pH and [HCO3−]. GI symptoms were quantified every 30 min via questionnaire. Statistics used were pairwise comparisons between protocols; differences were interpreted in relation to smallest worthwhile changes for each variable. A likelihood of >75% was a substantial change.

Results:

[HCO3−] and pH were substantially greater than in placebo for all other ingestion protocols at almost all time points. When NaHCO3 was coingested with food, the greatest [HCO3−] (30.9 mmol/kg) and pH (7.49) and lowest incidence of GI symptoms were observed. The greatest incidence of GI side effects was observed 90 min after ingestion of 0.3 g/kg NaHCO3 solution.

Conclusions:

The changes in pH and [HCO3−] for the 8 NaHCO3-ingestion protocols were similar, so an optimal protocol cannot be recommended. However, the results suggest that NaHCO3 coingested with a high-carbohydrate meal should be taken 120–150 min before exercise to induce substantial blood alkalosis and reduce GI symptoms.

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Adam J. Zemski, Shelley E. Keating, Elizabeth M. Broad and Gary J. Slater

Rugby union athletes have divergent body composition based on the demands of their on-field playing position and ethnicity. With an established association between physique traits and positional requirements, body composition assessment is routinely undertaken. Surface anthropometry and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) are the most common assessment techniques used, often undertaken synchronously. This study aims to investigate the association between DXA and surface anthropometry when assessing longitudinal changes in fat-free mass (FFM) and fat mass (FM) in rugby union athletes. Thirty-nine elite male rugby union athletes (age: 25.7 ± 3.1 years, stature: 187.6 ± 7.7 cm, and mass: 104.1 ± 12.2 kg) underwent assessment via DXA and surface anthropometry multiple times over three consecutive international seasons. Changes in the lean mass index, an empirical measure to assess proportional variation in FFM, showed large agreement with changes in DXA FFM (r = .54, standard error of the estimate = 1.5%, p < .001); the strength of association was stronger among forwards (r = .63) compared with backs (r = .38). Changes in the sum of seven skinfolds showed very large agreement with changes in DXA FM (r = .73, standard error of the estimate = 5.8%, p < .001), with meaningful differences observed regardless of ethnicity (Whites: r = .75 and Polynesians: r = .62). The lean mass index and sum of seven skinfolds were able to predict the direction of change in FFM and FM 86% and 91% of the time, respectively, when DXA change was >1 kg. Surface anthropometry measures provide a robust indication of the direction of change in FFM and FM, although caution may need to be applied when interpreting magnitude of change, particularly with FM.

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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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Gary Slater, David Jenkins, Peter Logan, Hamilton Lee, Matthew Vukovich, John A. Rathmacher and Allan G. Hahn

This investigation evaluated the effects of oral β-Hydroxy-β-Methylbutyrate (HMB) supplementation on training responses in resistance-trained male athletes who were randomly administered HMB in standard encapsulation (SH), HMB in time release capsule (TRH), or placebo (P) in a double-blind fashion. Subjects ingested 3 g · day−1 of HMB or placebo for 6 weeks. Tests were conducted pre-supplementation and following 3 and 6 weeks of supplementation. The testing battery assessed body mass, body composition (using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry), and 3-repetition maximum isoinertial strength, plus biochemical parameters, including markers of muscle damage and muscle protein turnover. While the training and dietary intervention of the investigation resulted in significant strength gains (p < .001) and an increase in total lean mass (p = .01), HMB administration had no influence on these variables. Likewise, biochemical markers of muscle protein turnover and muscle damage were also unaffected by HMB supplementation. The data indicate that 6 weeks of HMB supplementation in either SH or TRH form does not influence changes in strength and body composition in response to resistance training in strength-trained athletes.

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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.