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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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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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Peter Peeling, Martyn J. Binnie, Paul S.R. Goods, Marc Sim and Louise M. Burke

A strong foundation in physical conditioning and sport-specific experience, in addition to a bespoke and periodized training and nutrition program, are essential for athlete development. Once these underpinning factors are accounted for, and the athlete reaches a training maturity and competition level where marginal gains determine success, a role may exist for the use of evidence-based performance supplements. However, it is important that any decisions surrounding performance supplements are made in consideration of robust information that suggests the use of a product is safe, legal, and effective. The following review focuses on the current evidence-base for a number of common (and emerging) performance supplements used in sport. The supplements discussed here are separated into three categories based on the level of evidence supporting their use for enhancing sports performance: (1) established (caffeine, creatine, nitrate, beta-alanine, bicarbonate); (2) equivocal (citrate, phosphate, carnitine); and (3) developing. Within each section, the relevant performance type, the potential mechanisms of action, and the most common protocols used in the supplement dosing schedule are summarized.

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Ida A. Heikura, Marc Quod, Nicki Strobel, Roger Palfreeman, Rita Civil and Louise M. Burke

Purpose: To assess energy and carbohydrate (CHO) availability and changes in blood hormones in 6 professional male cyclists over multiple single-day races. Methods: The authors collected weighed-food records, power-meter data, and morning body mass measurements across 8 d. CHO intakes were compared with contemporary guidelines. Energy availability (EA) was calculated as energy intake minus exercise energy expenditure, relative to fat-free mass (FFM). Skinfold thickness and blood metabolic and reproductive hormones were measured prestudy and poststudy. Statistical significance was defined as P ≤ .05. Results: Body mass (P = .11) or skinfold thickness (P = .75) did not change across time, despite alternate-day low EA (14 [9] vs 57 [10] kcal·kg−1 FFM·d−1, race vs rest days, respectively; P < .001). Cyclists with extremely low EA on race days (<10 kcal·kg−1 FFM·d−1; n = 2) experienced a trend toward decreased testosterone (−14%) and insulin-like growth factor 1 (−25%), despite being high EA (>46 kcal·kg−1 FFM·d−1) on days between. CHO intakes were significantly higher on race versus rest days (10.7 [1.3] vs 6.4 [0.8] g·kg−1·d−1, respectively; P < .001). The cyclists reached contemporary prerace fueling targets (3.4 [0.7] g·kg−1·3 h−1 CHO; P = .24), while the execution of CHO guidelines during race (51 [9] g·h−1; P = .048) and within acute (1.6 [0.5] g·kg−1·3 h−1; P = .002) and prolonged (7.4 [1.0] g·kg−1·24 h−1; P = .002) postrace recovery was poor. Conclusions: The authors are the first to report the day-by-day periodization of energy and CHO in a small sample of professional cyclists. They also examined the logistics of conducting a field study under stressful conditions in which major cooperation from the subjects and team management is needed. Their commentary around these challenges and possible solutions is a major novelty of the article.

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Alisa Nana, Gary J. Slater, Arthur D. Stewart and Louise M. Burke

Dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) is rapidly becoming more accessible and popular as a technique to monitor body composition, especially in athletic populations. Although studies in sedentary populations have investigated the validity of DXA assessment of body composition, few studies have examined the issues of reliability in athletic populations and most studies which involve DXA measurements of body composition provide little information on their scanning protocols. This review presents a summary of the sources of error and variability in the measurement of body composition by DXA, and develops a theoretical model of best practice to standardize the conduct and analysis of a DXA scan. Components of this protocol include standardization of subject presentation (subjects rested, overnight-fasted and in minimal clothing) and positioning on the scanning bed (centrally aligned in a standard position using custom-made positioning aids) as well as manipulation of the automatic segmentation of regional areas of the scan results. Body composition assessment implemented with such protocol ensures a high level of precision, while still being practical in an athletic setting. This ensures that any small changes in body composition are confidently detected and correctly interpreted. The reporting requirements for studies involving DXA scans of body composition include details of the DXA machine and software, subject presentation and positioning protocols, and analysis protocols.

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Rebekah D. Alcock, Gregory C. Shaw, Nicolin Tee, Marijke Welvaert and Louise M. Burke

The urinary excretion of hydroxyproline (Hyp), abundant in collagen protein, may serve as a biomarker of habitual collagen intake, assisting with investigations of current interest in the role of dietary collagen intake in supporting the synthesis of collagenous body tissues. This study investigated the time course of urinary Hyp excretion in “free-living,” healthy, active males following the ingestion of a standardized bolus (20 g) of collagenous (gelatin and a hydrolyzed collagen powder) and dairy (calcium caseinate and hydrolyzed casein) proteins. The excretion of Hyp was assessed over a 24-hr period, separated into three collection periods: 0–6, 6–12, and 12–24 hr. Hyp was elevated for 0–6 hr after the consumption of collagen-containing supplements (gelatin 31.3 ± 8.8 mmol/mol and hydrolyzed collagen 33.7 ± 22.0 mmol/mol vs. baseline: gelatin 2.4 ± 1.7 mmol/mol and hydrolyzed collagen 2.8 ± 1.5 mmol/mol; p < .05), but not for the dairy protein supplements (calcium caseinate 3.4 ± 1.7 mmol/mol and hydrolyzed casein 4.0 ± 3.7 mmol/mol; p > .05). Therefore, urinary Hyp reflects an acute intake of collagenous protein, but is not suitable as a biomarker for quantifying habitual collagen intake, provided through regular dietary practices in “free-living,” healthy, active males.

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Christopher John Stevens, Megan L. Ross, Julien D. Périard, Brent S. Vallance and Louise M. Burke

Purpose: The core temperature responses during exercise and effects of different cooling strategies on endurance performance under heat stress have been investigated in recreational athletes. This investigation aimed to determine peak rectal temperatures during elite racewalking competitions and to detail any cooling strategies used. Methods: Rectal temperature was measured in 14 heat-adapted elite/preelite race walkers (9 females) via a telemetric capsule across 4 outdoor events, including the 2018 Commonwealth Games (race 1: 20 km, 25°C, 74% relative humidity [RH], n = 2) and 3 International Association of Athletics Federations–sanctioned 10-km events (race 2: 19°C, 34% RH, n = 2; race 3: 29°C, 47% RH, n = 14; and race 4: 23°C, 72% RH, n = 11). All athletes completed race 3, and a subsample completed the other events. Their use of cooling strategies and symptoms of heat illness were determined. Results: Peak rectal temperatures >40°C were observed in all events. The highest rectal temperature observed during an event was 41.2°C. These high rectal temperatures were observed without concomitant heat illness, with the exception of cramping in one athlete during race 1. The rectal temperatures tended to reach a steady state in the second half of the 20-km event, but no steady state was observed in the 10-km events. The athletes used cooling strategies in race 1 only, implementing different combinations of cold-water immersion, ice-slurry ingestion, ice-towel application, ice-vest application, and facial water spraying. Conclusions: Elite/preelite race walkers experience rectal temperatures >40°C during competition despite only moderate-warm conditions, and even when precooling and midcooling strategies are applied.

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Louise M. Burke, Bronwen Lundy, Ida L. Fahrenholtz and Anna K. Melin

The human body requires energy for numerous functions including, growth, thermogenesis, reproduction, cellular maintenance, and movement. In sports nutrition, energy availability (EA) is defined as the energy available to support these basic physiological functions and good health once the energy cost of exercise is deducted from energy intake (EI), relative to an athlete’s fat-free mass (FFM). Low EA provides a unifying theory to link numerous disorders seen in both female and male athletes, described by the syndrome Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport, and related to restricted energy intake, excessive exercise or a combination of both. These outcomes are incurred in different dose–response patterns relative to the reduction in EA below a “healthy” level of ∼45 kcal·kg FFM−1·day−1. Although EA estimates are being used to guide and monitor athletic practices, as well as support a diagnosis of Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport, problems associated with the measurement and interpretation of EA in the field should be explored. These include the lack of a universal protocol for the calculation of EA, the resources needed to achieve estimates of each of the components of the equation, and the residual errors in these estimates. The lack of a clear definition of the value for EA that is considered “low” reflects problems around its measurement, as well as differences between individuals and individual components of “normal”/“healthy” function. Finally, further investigation of nutrition and exercise behavior including within- and between-day energy spread and dietary characteristics is warranted since it may directly contribute to low EA or its secondary problems.

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Iñigo Mujika, Shona Halson, Louise M. Burke, Gloria Balagué and Damian Farrow

Sports periodization has traditionally focused on the exercise aspect of athletic preparation, while neglecting the integration of other elements that can impact an athlete’s readiness for peak competition performances. Integrated periodization allows the coordinated inclusion of multiple training components best suited for a given training phase into an athlete’s program. The aim of this article is to review the available evidence underpinning integrated periodization, focusing on exercise training, recovery, nutrition, psychological skills, and skill acquisition as key factors by which athletic preparation can be periodized. The periodization of heat and altitude adaptation, body composition, and physical therapy is also considered. Despite recent criticism, various methods of exercise training periodization can contribute to performance enhancement in a variety of elite individual and team sports, such as soccer. In the latter, both physical and strategic periodization are useful tools for managing the heavy travel schedule, fatigue, and injuries that occur throughout a competitive season. Recovery interventions should be periodized (ie, withheld or emphasized) to influence acute and chronic training adaptation and performance. Nutrient intake and timing in relation to exercise and as part of the periodization of an athlete’s training and competition calendar can also promote physiological adaptations and performance capacity. Psychological skills are a central component of athletic performance, and their periodization should cater to each athlete’s individual needs and the needs of the team. Skill acquisition can also be integrated into an athlete’s periodized training program to make a significant contribution to competition performance.

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Louise M. Burke, Graeme L. Close, Bronwen Lundy, Martin Mooses, James P. Morton and Adam S. Tenforde

Low energy availability (LEA) is a key element of the Female Athlete Triad. Causes of LEA include failure to match high exercise energy expenditure (unintentional) or pathological behaviors of disordered eating (compulsive) and overzealous weight control programs (misguided but intentional). Recognition of such scenarios in male athletes contributed to the pronouncement of the more inclusive Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) syndrome. This commentary describes the insights and experience of the current group of authors around the apparently heightened risk of LEA in some populations of male athletes: road cyclists, rowers (lightweight and open weight), athletes in combat sports, distance runners, and jockeys. The frequency, duration, and magnitude of the LEA state appear to vary between populations. Common risk factors include cyclical management of challenging body mass and composition targets (including “making weight”) and the high energy cost of some training programs or events that is not easily matched by energy intake. However, additional factors such as food insecurity and lack of finances may also contribute to impaired nutrition in some populations. Collectively, these insights substantiate the concept of RED-S in male athletes and suggest that a specific understanding of a sport, subpopulation, or culture may identify a complex series of factors that can contribute to LEA and the type and severity of its outcomes. This commentary provides a perspective on the range of risk factors that should be addressed in future surveys of RED-S in athletic populations and targeted for specific investigation and modification.