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Peter Peeling, Gregory R. Cox, Nicola Bullock and Louise M. Burke

We assessed the ingestion of a beetroot juice supplement (BR) on 4-min laboratory-based kayak performance in national level male (n = 6) athletes (Study A), and on 500 m on-water kayak time-trial (TT) performance in international level female (n = 5) athletes (Study B). In Study A, participants completed three laboratory-based sessions on a kayak ergometer, including a 7 × 4 min step test, and two 4 min maximal effort performance trials. Two and a half hours before the warm-up of each 4 min performance trial, athletes received either a 70 ml BR shot containing ~4.8 mmol of nitrate, or a placebo equivalent (BRPLA). The distance covered over the 4 min TT was not different between conditions; however, the average VO2 over the 4 min period was significantly lower in BR (p = .04), resulting in an improved exercise economy (p = .05). In Study B, participants completed two field-based 500 m TTs, separated by 4 days. Two hours before each trial, athletes received either two 70 ml BR shots containing ~9.6 mmol of nitrate, or a placebo equivalent (BRPLA). BR supplementation significantly enhanced TT performance by 1.7% (p = .01). Our results show that in national-level male kayak athletes, commercially available BR shots (70 ml) containing ~4.8 mmol of nitrate improved exercise economy during laboratory-based tasks predominantly reliant on the aerobic energy system. Furthermore, greater volumes of BR (140 ml; ~9.6 mmol nitrate) provided to international-level female kayak athletes resulted in enhancements to TT performance in the field.

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Gregory Shaw, Kevin T. Boyd, Louise M. Burke and Anu Koivisto

Swimming is a sport that requires considerable training commitment to reach individual performance goals. Nutrition requirements are specific to the macrocycle, microcycle, and individual session. Swimmers should ensure suitable energy availability to support training while maintaining long term health. Carbohydrate intake, both over the day and in relation to a workout, should be manipulated (3–10g/kg of body mass/day) according to the fuel demands of training and the varying importance of undertaking these sessions with high carbohydrate availability. Swimmers should aim to consume 0.3g of high-biological-value protein per kilogram of body mass immediately after key sessions and at regular intervals throughout the day to promote tissue adaptation. A mixed diet consisting of a variety of nutrient-dense food choices should be sufficient to meet the micronutrient requirements of most swimmers. Specific dietary supplements may prove beneficial to swimmers in unique situations, but should be tried only with the support of trained professionals. All swimmers, particularly adolescent and youth swimmers, are encouraged to focus on a well-planned diet to maximize training performance, which ensures sufficient energy availability especially during periods of growth and development. Swimmers are encouraged to avoid rapid weight fluctuations; rather, optimal body composition should be achieved over longer periods by modest dietary modifications that improve their food choices. During periods of reduced energy expenditure (taper, injury, off season) swimmers are encouraged to match energy intake to requirement. Swimmers undertaking demanding competition programs should ensure suitable recovery practices are used to maintain adequate glycogen stores over the entirety of the competition period.

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Louise M. Burke, David B. Pyne and Richard D. Telford

Oral supplementation with creatine monohydrate (Cr.H20) has been reported to increase muscle creatine phosphate levels. The aim of the present study was to determine the effect of such supplementation on performance of a single-effort sprint by elite swimmers. Thirty-two elite swimmers (M = 18, F = 14; age = 17-25 years) from the Australian Institute of Sport were tested on two occasions, 1 week apart. Tests performed were 25-m, 50-m, and 100-m maximal effort sprints (electronically timed with dive start, swimmers performing their best stroke), each with approximately 10 min active recovery. A 10-s maximal leg ergometry test was also undertaken. Swimmers were divided into two groups matched for sex, stroke/event, and sprint time over 50 m, and groups were randomly assigned to 5 days of Cr.H20 supplementation (4 · day−1 x 5 g Cr.H20 + 2 g sucrose, n = 16) or placebo (4 · day−1 x 5 g Poly cose + -2 g sucrose, n = 16) prior to the second trial. Results revealed no significant differences between the group means for sprint times or between 10-s maximal leg ergometry power and work. This study does not support the hypothesis that creatine supplementation enhances single-effort sprint ability of elite swimmers.

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Anna Baylis, David Cameron-Smith and Louise M. Burke

Many athletes report using a wide range of special sports foods and supplements. In the present study of 77 elite Australian swimmers, 99% of those surveyed reported the use of these special preparations, with 94% of swimmers reporting the use of non-food supplements. The most popular dietary supplements were vitamin or mineral supplements (used by 94% of the group), herbal preparations (61%), and creatine (31%). Eighty-seven percent of swimmers reported using a sports drink or other energy-providing sports food. In total, 207 different products were reported in this survey. Sports supplements, particularly supplements presented as pills or other non-food form, are poorly regulated in most countries, with little assurance of quality control. The risk of an inadvertent “positive doping test” through the use of sports supplements or sports foods is a small but real problem facing athletes who compete in events governed by anti-doping rules. The elite swimmers in this survey reported that information about the “doping safety” of supplements was important and should be funded by supplement manufacturers. Although it is challenging to provide such information, we suggest a model to provide an accredited testing program suitable for the Australian situation, with targeted athlete education about the “sports safety” of sports supplements and foods.

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Louise M. Burke, Ross A. Gollan and Richard S.D. Read

The present study conducted dietary surveys of four groups of Australian male athletes: triathletes, marathon runners, Australian Rules football players, and Olympic weightlifters. Their training diets were assessed via a 7-day food record from which mean daily intakes of energy, macronutrients, and key micronutrients were estimated. The data were compared between groups as well as to recommendations in the literature for athlete nutrition. Results showed major differences between groups. The contribution of carbohydrate to total energy intake was greater for triathletes and marathon runners than for the other two groups. There was no difference between all four groups in the total amount of fat consumed, yet its contribution to total energy intake was significantly lower for triathletes and marathon runners. The football players and weightlifters consumed a similar fat: energy ratio as the typical Australian diet. Furthermore, the micronutrient density of the football players' diets was significantly lower than that of the other groups.

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Louise M. Burke, Gregory R. Collier and Mark Hargreaves

The glycemic index (GI) provides a way to rank foods rich in carbohydrate (CHO) according to the glucose response following their intake. Consumption of low-GI CHO-rich foods may attenuate the insulin-mediated metabolic disturbances associated with CHO intake in the hours prior to exercise, better maintaining CHO availability. However, there is insufficient evidence that athletes who consume a low-GI CHO-rich meal prior to a prolonged event will gain clear performance benefits. The ingestion of CHO during prolonged exercise promotes CHO availability and enhances endurance and performance, and athletes usually choose CHO-rich foods and drinks of moderate to high GI to achieve this goal. Moderate- and high-GI CHO choices appear to enhance glycogen storage after exercise compared with low-GI CHO-rich foods. However, the reason for this is not clear. A number of attributes of CHO-rich foods may be of value to the athlete including the nutritional value of the food or practical issues such as palatability, portability, cost, gastric comfort, or ease of preparation.

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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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Elizabeth M. Broad, Louise M. Burke, Greg R. Cox, Prue Heeley and Malcolm Riley

Fluid losses (measured by body weight changes) and voluntary fluid intakes were measured in elite basketball, netball, and soccer teams during typical summer and winter exercise sessions to determine fluid requirements and the degree of fluid replacement. Each subject was weighed in minimal clothing before and immediately after training, weights, and competition sessions; fluid intake, duration of exercise, temperature and humidity, and opportunity to drink were recorded. Sweat rates were greatest during competition sessions and significantly lower during weights sessions for all sports. Seasonal variation in dehydration (%DH) was not as great as may have been expected, particularly in sports played indoors. Factors influencing fluid replacement during exercise included provision of an individual water bottle, proximity to water bottles during sessions, encouragement to drink, rules of the game, duration and number of breaks or substitutions, and awareness of personal sweat rates. Guidelines for optimizing fluid intakes in these three sports are provided.

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Jenni M. Felder, Louise M. Burke, Brian J. Lowdon, David Cameron-Smith and Gregory R. Collier

The aim of this study was to assess the dietary practices of 10 elite female surfers. Four- and five-day food diaries completed over competition and training periods demonstrated energy intakes (mean ± SD) of 9,468 kJ (±2,007) and 8,397 kJ (±1,831), respectively. This level of energy intake was less than that estimated for the requirements of surfing. Female surfers' carbohydrate intakes failed to meet the recommendations, and suboptimal zinc intake was observed with 90% of subjects not meeting the Australian RDI. Comparisons between competition and training demonstrated that carbohydrate (g and g/kg body weight) and confectionary (g) intakes were significantly higher (p < .05) and protein intake was significantly lower (p < .05) during competition. These results show that although body fat stores were not compromised (mean 22%), self-reported energy, carbohydrate, and nutrient intakes were marginal in elite female surfers. Questionnaires revealed that 90% of surfers did not have good nutritional habits while traveling, which was compounded by a lack of knowledge of nutritional practices.

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Heidi M. Staudacher, Andrew L. Carey, Nicola K. Cummings, John A. Hawley and Louise M. Burke

We determined the effect of a high-fat diet and carbohydrate (CHO) restoration on substrate oxidation and glucose tolerance in 7 competitive ultra-endurance athletes (peak oxygen uptake [V̇O2peak] 68 ± 1 ml · kg−1 · min−1; mean±SEM). For 6 days, subjects consumed a random order of a high-fat (69% fat; FAT-adapt) or a high-CHO (70% CHO; HCHO) diet, each followed by 1 day of a high-CHO diet. Treatments were separated by an 18-day wash out. Substrate oxidation was determined during submaximal cycling (20 min at 65% V̇O2peak) prior to and following the 6 day dietary interventions. Fat oxidation at baseline was not different between treatments (17.4 ± 2.1 vs. 16.1 ± 1.3 g · 20 min−1 for FAT-adapt and HCHO, respectively) but increased 34% after 6 days of FAT-adapt (to 23.3 ± 0.9 g · 20 min−1, p < .05) and decreased 30% after HCHO (to 11.3±1.4 g · 20 min−1, p < .05). Glucose tolerance, determined by the area under the plasma [glucose] versus time curve during an oral glucose tolerance (OGTT) test, was similar at baseline (545±21 vs. 520±28 mmol · L−1 · 90 min−1), after 5-d of dietary intervention (563 ± 26 vs. 520 ± 18 mmol · L−1 · 90 min−1) and after 1 d of high-CHO (491 ± 28 vs. 489 ± 22 mmol · L−1 · 90min−1 for FAT- adapt and HCHO, respectively). An index of whole-body insulin sensitivity (SI 10000/÷fasting [glucose] × fasting [insulin] × mean [glucose] during OGTT × mean [insulin] during OGTT) was similar at baseline (15 ± 2 vs. 17 ± 5 arbitrary units), after 5-d of dietary intervention (15 ± 2 vs. 15 ± 2) and after 24 h of CHO loading (17 ± 3 vs. 18 ± 2 for FAT- adapt and HCHO, respectively). We conclude that despite marked changes in the pattern of substrate oxidation during submaximal exercise, short-term adaptation to a high-fat diet does not alter whole-body glucose tolerance or an index of insulin sensitivity in highly-trained individuals.