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Margo L. Mountjoy, Louise M. Burke, Trent Stellingwerff and Jorunn Sundgot-Borgen

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

Purpose:

To investigate the physical qualities that differentiate playing minutes in international-level women’s rugby sevens players.

Methods:

Twenty-four national-level female rugby sevens players underwent measurements of anthropometry, acceleration, speed, lower- and upper-body strength, lower-body power, and aerobic fitness. Playing minutes in international competition were used to differentiate players into 2 groups, a high- or low-playing-minutes group. Playing minutes were related to team selection, which was determined by the coaching staff. Playing minutes were therefore used to differentiate performance levels.

Results:

Players in the high-playing-minutes group (≥70 min) were older (mean ± SD 24.3 ± 3.1 vs 21.2 ± 4.3 y, P = .05, effect size [ES] = 0.77 ± 0.66, 90% confidence limit) and had greater experience in a national-training-center environment (2.4 ± 0.8 vs 1.7 ± 0.9 y, P = .03, ES = 0.83 ± 0.65), faster 1600-m time (374.5 ± 20.4 vs 393.5 ± 29.8 s, P = .09, ES = –0.70 ± 0.68), and greater 1-repetition-maximum upper-body strength (bench press 68.4 ± 6.3 vs 62.2 ± 8.1 kg, P = .07, ES = 0.80 ± 0.70, and neutral-grip pull-up 84.0 ± 8.2 vs 79.1 ± 5.4 kg, P = .12, ES = 0.68 ± 0.72) than athletes who played fewer minutes. Age (rs = .59 ± ~.28), training experience (rs = .57 ± ~.29), bench press (r = .44 ± ~.36), and 1600-m time (r = –.43 ± ~.34) were significantly associated with playing minutes. Neutral-grip pull-up and bench press contributed significantly to a discriminant analysis. The average squared canonical correlation was .46. The discriminant analysis predicted 7 of 9 and 6 of 10 high- and low-playing-minutes athletes, respectively.

Conclusions:

Age, training experience, upper-body strength, and aerobic fitness differentiated athlete playing minutes in international women’s rugby sevens.

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

Athletes employ various dietary strategies in attempts to attenuate exercise-induced gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms to ensure optimal performance. This case-study outlines one of these GI-targeted approaches via the implementation of a short-term low FODMAP (Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols) diet, with the aim to attenuate persistent running specific GI symptoms in a recreationally competitive multisport athlete (male, 86 kg, 57.9 ml·kg·min-1 V02max, 10–15 hr/week training, with no diagnosed GI disorder). Using a single-blinded approach a habitual diet was compared with a 6-day low FODMAP intervention diet (81 ± 5g vs 7.2 ± 5.7g FODMAP s/day) for their effect on GI symptoms and perceptual wellbeing. Training was similar during the habitual and dietary intervention periods. Postexercise (During) GI symptom ratings were recorded immediately following training. Daily GI symptoms and the Daily Analysis of Life Demands for Athletes (DALDA) were recorded at the end of each day. Daily and During GI symptom scores (scale 0–9) ranged from 0–4 during the habitual dietary period while during the low FODMAP dietary period all scores were 0 (no symptoms at all). DALDA scores for worse than normal ranged from 3–10 vs 0–8 in the habitual and low FODMAP dietary periods, respectively, indicating improvement. This intervention was effective for this GI symptom prone athlete; however, randomized-controlled trials are required to assess the suitability of low FODMAP diets for reducing GI distress in other symptomatic athletes.

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

Contemporary nutrition guidelines promote a variety of periodized and time-sensitive recommendations, but current information regarding the knowledge and practice of these strategies among world-class athletes is limited. The aim of this study was to investigate this theme by implementing a questionnaire on dietary periodization practices in national/international level female (n = 27) and male (n = 21) middle- and long-distance runners/race-walkers. The questionnaire aimed to gain information on between and within-day dietary choices, as well as timing of pre- and posttraining meals and practices of training with low or high carbohydrate (CHO) availability. Data are shown as percentage (%) of all athletes, with differences in responses between subgroups (sex or event) shown as Chi-square x2 when p < .05. Nearly two-thirds of all athletes reported that they aim to eat more food on, or after, hard training days. Most athletes said they focus on adequate fueling (96%) and adequate CHO and protein (PRO) recovery (87%) around key sessions. Twenty-six percent of athletes (11% of middle vs 42% of long-distance athletes [x2 (1, n = 46) = 4.308, p = .038, phi = 0.3])) reported to undertake training in the fasted state, while 11% said they periodically restrict CHO intake, with 30% ingesting CHO during training sessions. Our findings show that elite endurance athletes appear to execute pre- and post-key session nutrition recovery recommendations. However, very few athletes deliberately undertake some contemporary dietary periodization approaches, such as training in the fasted state or periodically restricting CHO intake. This study suggests mismatches between athlete practice and current and developing sports nutrition guidelines.

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Louise M. Burke, John A. Hawley, Asker Jeukendrup, James P. Morton, Trent Stellingwerff and Ronald J. Maughan

From the breakthrough studies of dietary carbohydrate and exercise capacity in the 1960s through to the more recent studies of cellular signaling and the adaptive response to exercise in muscle, it has become apparent that manipulations of dietary fat and carbohydrate within training phases, or in the immediate preparation for competition, can profoundly alter the availability and utilization of these major fuels and, subsequently, the performance of endurance sport (events >30 min up to ∼24 hr). A variety of terms have emerged to describe new or nuanced versions of such exercise–diet strategies (e.g., train low, train high, low-carbohydrate high-fat diet, periodized carbohydrate diet). However, the nonuniform meanings of these terms have caused confusion and miscommunication, both in the popular press and among the scientific community. Sports scientists will continue to hold different views on optimal protocols of fuel support for training and competition in different endurance events. However, to promote collaboration and shared discussions, a commonly accepted and consistent terminology will help to strengthen hypotheses and experimental/experiential data around various strategies. We propose a series of definitions and explanations as a starting point for a more unified dialogue around acute and chronic manipulations of fat and carbohydrate in the athlete’s diet, noting philosophies of approaches rather than a single/definitive macronutrient prescription. We also summarize some of the key questions that need to be tackled to help produce greater insight into this exciting area of sports nutrition research and practice.

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Ida A. Heikura, Louise M. Burke, Dan Bergland, Arja L.T. Uusitalo, Antti A. Mero and Trent Stellingwerff

Purpose: The authors investigated the effects of sex, energy availability (EA), and health status on the change in hemoglobin mass (ΔHbmass) in elite endurance athletes over ∼3–4 wk of live-high–train-high altitude training in Flagstaff, AZ (2135 m; n = 27 women; n = 21 men; 27% 2016 Olympians). Methods: Precamp and postcamp Hbmass (optimized carbon monoxide rebreathing method) and iron status were measured, EA was estimated via food and training logs, and a Low Energy Availability in Females Questionnaire (LEAFQ) and a general injury/illness questionnaire were completed. Hypoxic exposure (h) was calculated with low (<500 h), moderate (500–600 h), and high (>600 h) groupings. Results: Absolute and relative percentage ΔHbmass was significantly greater in women (6.2% [4.0%], P < .001) than men (3.2% [3.3%], P = .008). %ΔHbmass showed a dose–response with hypoxic exposure (3.1% [3.8%] vs 4.9% [3.8%] vs 6.8% [3.7%], P = .013). Hbmasspre was significantly higher in eumenorrheic vs amenorrheic women (12.2 [1.0] vs 11.3 [0.5] g/kg, P = .004). Although statistically underpowered, %ΔHbmass was significantly less in sick (n = 4, −0.5% [0.4%]) vs healthy (n = 44, 5.4% [3.8%], P < .001) athletes. There were no significant correlations between self-reported iron intake, sex hormones, or EA on Hbmass outcomes. However, there was a trend for a negative correlation between LEAFQ score and %ΔHbmass (r = −.353, P = .07). Conclusions: The findings confirm the importance of baseline Hbmass and exposure to hypoxia on increases in Hbmass during altitude training, while emphasizing the importance of athlete health and indices of EA on an optimal baseline Hbmass and hematological response to hypoxia.

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Ida A. Heikura, Arja L.T. Uusitalo, Trent Stellingwerff, Dan Bergland, Antti A. Mero and Louise M. Burke

We aimed to (a) report energy availability (EA), metabolic/reproductive function, bone mineral density, and injury/illness rates in national/world-class female and male distance athletes and (b) investigate the robustness of various diagnostic criteria from the Female Athlete Triad (Triad), Low Energy Availability in Females Questionnaire, and relative energy deficiency in sport (RED-S) tools to identify risks associated with low EA. Athletes were distinguished according to benchmarks of reproductive function (amenorrheic [n = 13] vs. eumenorrheic [n = 22], low [lowest quartile of reference range; n = 10] versus normal testosterone [n = 14]), and EA calculated from 7-day food and training diaries (< or >30 kcal·kg−1 fat-free mass·day−1). Sex hormones (p < .001), triiodothyronine (p < .05), and bone mineral density (females, p < .05) were significantly lower in amenorrheic (37%) and low testosterone (40%; 15.1 ± 3.0 nmol/L) athletes, and bone injuries were ∼4.5-fold more prevalent in amenorrheic (effect size = 0.85, large) and low testosterone (effect size = 0.52, moderate) groups compared with others. Categorization of females and males using Triad or RED-S tools revealed that higher risk groups had significantly lower triiodothyronine (female and male Triad and RED-S: p < .05) and higher number of all-time fractures (male Triad: p < .001; male RED-S and female Triad: p < .01) as well as nonsignificant but markedly (up to 10-fold) higher number of training days lost to bone injuries during the preceding year. Based on the cross-sectional analysis, current reproductive function (questionnaires/blood hormone concentrations) appears to provide a more objective and accurate marker of optimal energy for health than the more error-prone and time-consuming dietary and training estimation of EA. This study also offers novel findings that athlete health is associated with EA indices.

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Trent Stellingwerff, Jean-Philippe Godin, Maurice Beaumont, Aude Tavenard, Dominik Grathwohl, Peter J. van Bladeren, Anne-France Kapp, Johannes le Coutre and Sami Damak

Recent studies have demonstrated a direct link between increased exogenous CHO oxidation (CHOexog) and enhanced performance. The limiting factor for CHOexog appears to be at the level of intestinal transporters, with sodium/glucose cotransporter 1 (SGLT1) and glucose transporter Type 5 (GLUT5) responsible for glucose and fructose transport, respectively. Studies in animal models have shown that SGLT1 and intestinal glucose uptake are up-regulated by high carbohydrate diets or noncaloric sweeteners. The aim of this study was to determine the effect of preexercise ingestion of noncaloric sweeteners on CHOexog during exercise in athletes. In a randomized, crossover, double-blind fashion twenty-three healthy male cyclists (age = 29 ± 7yrs, mass = 73.6 ± 7.4kg, VO2peak = 68.3 ± 9.3 ml/kg/min) consumed 8 × 50ml doses of either placebo (CON) or 1mM sucralose (SUCRA) every 15 min starting 120 min before the onset of exercise. This was followed by 2h of cycling at 48.5 ± 8.6% of VO2peak with continual ingestion of a maltodextrin drink (1.2g/min; 828ml/hr). Average CHOexog during the first hour of exercise did not differ between SUCRA and CON conditions (0.226 ± 0.081 g/min vs. 0.212 ± 0.076 g/min, Δ =0.015 g/min, 95%CI -0.008 g/min, 0.038 g/min, p = .178). Blood glucose, plasma insulin and lactate, CHO and fat substrate utilization, heart rate, ratings of perceived exertion, and gastrointestinal symptoms did not differ between conditions. Our data suggest that consumption of noncaloric sweeteners in the immediate period before exercise does not lead to a significant increase in CHOexog during exercise.

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James A. Betts, Javier T. Gonzalez, Louise M. Burke, Graeme L. Close, Ina Garthe, Lewis J. James, Asker E. Jeukendrup, James P. Morton, David C. Nieman, Peter Peeling, Stuart M. Phillips, Trent Stellingwerff, Luc J.C. van Loon, Clyde Williams, Kathleen Woolf, Ron Maughan and Greg Atkinson

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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.