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  • Author: Gary J. Slater x
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Mitchell Naughton, Joanna Miller and Gary J. Slater

Athletes involved in contact sports are habitually exposed to skeletal-muscle damage in their training and performance environments. This often leads to exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) resulting from repeated eccentric and/or high-intensity exercise and to impact-induced muscle damage (IIMD) resulting from collisions with opponents and the playing surface. While EIMD has been an area of extensive investigation, IIMD has received comparatively little research, with the magnitude and time frame of alterations following IIMD not presently well understood. It is currently thought that EIMD results from an overload of mechanical stress that causes ultrastructural damage to the cellular membrane constituents. Damage leads to compromised ability to produce force, which manifests immediately and persists for up to 14 d following exercise exposure. IIMD has been implicated in attenuated neuromuscular performance and recovery and in inflammatory processes, although the underlying course over time remains unclear. Exposure to EIMD leads to an adaptation to subsequent exposures, a phenomenon known as the repeated-bout effect. An analogous adaptation has been suggested to occur following IIMD; however, to date, this contention remains equivocal. While a considerable body of research has explored the efficacy of recovery strategies following EIMD, strategies promoting recovery from IIMD are limited to investigations using animal contusion models. Strategies such as cryotherapy and antioxidant supplementation that focus on attenuating the secondary inflammatory response may provide additional benefit in IIMD and are explored herein. Further research is required to first establish a model of generating IIMD and then explore broader areas around IIMD in athletic populations.

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Gary J. Slater, Jennifer Sygo and Majke Jorgensen

Although sprint athletes are assumed to primarily be interested in promoting muscle hypertrophy, it is the ability to generate explosive muscle power, optimization of power-to-weight ratio, and enhancement of anaerobic energy generation that are key outcomes of sprint training. This reflects the physique of track sprinters, being characterized as ecto-mesomorphs. Although there is little contemporary data on sprinters dietary habits, given their moderate energy requirements relative to body mass, a carbohydrate intake within the range of 3–6 g·kg−1·day−1 appears reasonable, while ensuring carbohydrate availability is optimized around training. Similarly, although protein needs may be twice general population recommendations, sprint athletes should consume meals containing ∼0.4 g/kg high biological value protein (i.e., easily digested, rich in essential amino acids) every 3–5 hr. Despite the short duration of competitions and relative long-recovery periods between races, nutrition still plays an important role in sprint performance. As energy expenditure moderates during competition, so too should intake of energy and macronutrients to prevent unwanted weight gain. Further adjustments in macronutrient intake may be warranted among athletes contemplating optimization of power-to-weight ratio through reductions in body fat prior to the competitive season. Other novel acute methods of weight loss have also been proposed to enhance power-to-weight ratio, but their implementation should only be considered under professional guidance. Given the metabolic demands of sprinting, a few supplements may be of benefit to athletes in training and/or competition. Their use in competition should be preceded with trialing in training to confirm tolerance and perceived ergogenic potential.

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Adam J. Zemski, Elizabeth M. Broad and Gary J. Slater

Body composition in elite rugby union athletes is routinely assessed using surface anthropometry, which can be utilized to provide estimates of absolute body composition using regression equations. This study aims to assess the ability of available skinfold equations to estimate body composition in elite rugby union athletes who have unique physique traits and divergent ethnicity. The development of sport-specific and ethnicity-sensitive equations was also pursued. Forty-three male international Australian rugby union athletes of Caucasian and Polynesian descent underwent surface anthropometry and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) assessment. Body fat percent (BF%) was estimated using five previously developed equations and compared to DXA measures. Novel sport and ethnicity-sensitive prediction equations were developed using forward selection multiple regression analysis. Existing skinfold equations provided unsatisfactory estimates of BF% in elite rugby union athletes, with all equations demonstrating a 95% prediction interval in excess of 5%. The equations tended to underestimate BF% at low levels of adiposity, whilst overestimating BF% at higher levels of adiposity, regardless of ethnicity. The novel equations created explained a similar amount of variance to those previously developed (Caucasians 75%, Polynesians 90%). The use of skinfold equations, including the created equations, cannot be supported to estimate absolute body composition. Until a population-specific equation is established that can be validated to precisely estimate body composition, it is advocated to use a proven method, such as DXA, when absolute measures of lean and fat mass are desired, and raw anthropometry data routinely to derive an estimate of body composition change.

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Geoff P. Lovell, John K. Parker and Gary J. Slater

Research in sports-science disciplines such as sport psychology has demonstrated that practitioners’ physical characteristics influence clients’ perceptions of their effectiveness, potentially mediating the efficacy of subsequent interventions. However, very little research has been directed toward this issue for sports dietitians (SDs), the health professionals whom athletes are likely to engage to assist with manipulation of traits of physique. Therefore, the purpose of this investigation was to determine whether SDs’ phenotype, specifically body-mass index (BMI), and type of dress influence potential clients’ preference to consult them for dietetic support and if this affects their perceived effectiveness.

Methods:

One hundred volunteers (mean age 18.7 ± 0 .8 years) all participating in regular competitive sport, classified by gender (male, n = 55, or female, n = 45) and competitive standard (elite/subelite, n = 68, or club/recreational, n = 32) viewed slides representing four concurrently presented computer-generated images of the same female SD manipulated to represent different BMIs and dress types. Participants were asked to rank the SDs in order of their preference to work with them and, second, to rate their perceived effectiveness of each of the SDs.

Results:

Key findings included the observation of a significant BMI main effect F(6, 91) = 387.39, p < .001 (effect size .96), with participants’ ranking of preference and rating of perceived effectiveness of female SDs decreasing with increasing BMI.

Conclusion:

SDs should consider their physical appearance when meeting with athletes, as this may affect their perceived efficacy.

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Mark R. McKean, Gary Slater, Florin Oprescu and Brendan J. Burkett

Australia has approximately 26,000 registered exercise professionals (REP), in comparison with 3,379 accredited practicing dietitians (APD). The REP workforce has the potential to reach more than 10% of the Australian population but there is limited data on their educational background and professional behaviors with regards to nutritional counseling of clients. The purpose of this research was to determine if REPs are working within their scope of practice and if their qualifications align with their practice, specifically as it relates to nutrition advice. Using a cross sectional descriptive study design, a self-administered online survey of REPs was conducted over 5 months. REPs were recruited through electronic and social media using a snowballing technique. The study focused on education, nutrition advice, and sources of information. A total of 286 respondents completed the survey, including 13 with tertiary dietetic qualifications i.e., APDs. The nationally recognized industry Certificate III/IV in Fitness was the most common qualification. The majority of REPs responding (88%) were working outside of their professional scope of practice, offering individual nutrition advice to clients across fitness and medical issues. This was despite 40% of REPs undertaking no further training in nutrition since graduating, and primarily basing advice on use of readily accessible sources of nutrition information. It is recommended the nutrition advice provided to REPs during training be limited to general nonmedical nutrition information in accordance with nationally endorsed evidence based guidelines and that issues pertaining to scope of practice be addressed with onward referral to other health professionals be advocated.

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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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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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Gary J. Slater, Anthony J. Rice, David Jenkins, Jason Gulbin and Allan G. Hahn

To strengthen the depth of lightweight rowing talent, we sought to identify experienced heavyweight rowers who possessed physique traits that predisposed them to excellence as a lightweight. Identified athletes (n = 3) were monitored over 16 wk. Variables measured included performance, anthropometric indices, and selected biochemical and metabolic parameters. All athletes decreased their body mass (range 2.0 to 8.0 kg), with muscle mass accounting for a large proportion of this (31.7 to 84.6%). Two athletes were able to maintain their performance despite reductions in body mass. However, performance was compromised for the athlete who experienced the greatest weight loss. In summary, smaller heavyweight rowers can successfully make the transition into the lightweight category, being nationally competitive in their first season as a lightweight.

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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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Jessica M. Stephens, Shona Halson, Joanna Miller, Gary J. Slater and Christopher D. Askew

The use of cold-water immersion (CWI) for postexercise recovery has become increasingly prevalent in recent years, but there is a dearth of strong scientific evidence to support the optimization of protocols for performance benefits. While the increase in practice and popularity of CWI has led to multiple studies and reviews in the area of water immersion, the research has predominantly focused on performance outcomes associated with postexercise CWI. Studies to date have generally shown positive results with enhanced recovery of performance. However, there are a small number of studies that have shown CWI to have either no effect or a detrimental effect on the recovery of performance. The rationale for such contradictory responses has received little attention but may be related to nuances associated with individuals that may need to be accounted for in optimizing prescription of protocols. To recommend optimal protocols to enhance athletic recovery, research must provide a greater understanding of the physiology underpinning performance change and the factors that may contribute to the varied responses currently observed. This review focuses specifically on why some of the current literature may show variability and disparity in the effectiveness of CWI for recovery of athletic performance by examining the body temperature and cardiovascular responses underpinning CWI and how they are related to performance benefits. This review also examines how individual characteristics (such as physique traits), differences in water-immersion protocol (depth, duration, temperature), and exercise type (endurance vs maximal) interact with these mechanisms.