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Mark A. Tarnopolsky and Dan P. MacLennan

Creatine monohydrate supplementation has been shown to enhance high-intensity exercise performance in some but not all studies. Part of the controversy surrounding the ergogenic effect(s) of creatine monohydrate supplementation may relate to design issues that result in low statistical power. A further question that remains unresolved in the creatine literature is whether or not males and females respond in a similar manner to supplementation. We studied the effect of creatine supplementation upon high intensity exercise performance in 24 subjects (n = 12 males, n = 12 females). Creatine monohydrate (Cr; 5g, 4x/d × 4d) and placebo (PI; glucose polymer × 4d) were provided using a randomized. double-blind crossover design (7 week washout). Outcome measures included: 2 × 30-S anaerobic cycle lest, with plasma lactate pre- and post-test; dorsi-flexor: maximal voluntary contraction (MVC), 2-min fatigue test, and electrically stimulated peak and tetanic torque; isokinetic knee extension torque and I -min ischeniic handgrip strength. Significant main effects of Cr treatment included: increased peak and relative peak anaerobic cycling power (↑3.7%; p < .05), dorsi-flexion MVC torque (↑6.6% p < .05), and increased lactate (↑20.8%; p < .05) with no gender specific responses. We concluded that short-term Cr supplementation can increase indices of high-intensity exercise performance for both males and females.

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Mark A. Tarnopolsky, Kerry Dyson, Stephanie A. Atkinson, Duncan MacDougall, and Cynthia Cupido

We studied the effects of different CHO supplements on exercise metabolism (1 hr at 75% V˙O2) and performance (fatigue time at 85% V˙O2) in 8 male endurance athletes (VO2max=68.8±3.8 mlkg1min1) Four treatments were administered in a randomized, double-blind fashion: Trial A = 3-day pretest, postexercise supplementation (177 kcal [81% carbohydrate, 19% protein] consumed < 10 min after exercise) + 600 ml 8% glucose polymers/ fructose 1 hr pretesting + 600 ml 8% glucose polymers/glucose during testing; Trial B = placebo during 3-day pretest + remainder same as Trial A; Trial C = placebo at all time points; and Trial D = same as Trial B with 8% glucose 1 hr before the test as well as during the test. Time to fatigue at 85% V˙O2max (Í24%) and total CHO oxidation were greater for A versus C (p < .05). Plasma glucose concentration was higher for A and B versus C, while increases in plasma potassium concentration were attenuated for A versus C (both p < .05). None of the supplements had differential effects upon hematocrit, plasma sodium [Na+] and lactate, V˙O2, or rating of perceived exertion during exercise. Three-day preexercise protein + carbohydrate supplements followed by 1-hr pre- and during-exercise mixed carbohydrate supplements increased time to fatigue and carbohydrate oxidation and attenuated rises in plasma [K+] com pared to placebo.

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Ben Desbrow, Nicholas A. Burd, Mark Tarnopolsky, Daniel R. Moore, and Kirsty J. Elliott-Sale

Adolescent, female, and masters athletes have unique nutritional requirements as a consequence of undertaking daily training and competition in addition to the specific demands of age- and gender-related physiological changes. Dietary education and recommendations for these special population athletes require a focus on eating for long-term health, with special consideration given to “at-risk” dietary patterns and nutrients (e.g., sustained restricted eating, low calcium, vitamin D and/or iron intakes relative to requirements). Recent research highlighting strategies to address age-related changes in protein metabolism and the development of tools to assist in the management of Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport are of particular relevance to special population athletes. Whenever possible, special population athletes should be encouraged to meet their nutrient needs by the consumption of whole foods rather than supplements. The recommendation of dietary supplements (particularly to young athletes) overemphasizes their ability to manipulate performance in comparison with other training/dietary strategies.

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Michael C. Riddell, Sara L. Partington, Nicole Stupka, David Armstrong, C. Rennie, and Mark A. Tarnopolsky

Compared to males, females oxidize proportionately more fat and less carbohydrate during endurance exercise performed in the fasted state. This study was designed to test the hypothesis that there may also be gender differences in exogenous carbohydrate (CHOexo) oxidation during exercise. Healthy, young males (n = 7) and females (n = 7) each completed 2 exercise trials (90 min cycle ergometry at 60% VO2peak), 1 week apart. Females were eumenorrheic and were tested in the midfollicular phase of their menstrual cycle. Subjects drank intermittently either 8% CHOexo (1 g glucose · kg · h−1) enriched with U-13C glucose or an artificially sweetened placebo during the trial. Whole-body substrate oxidation was determined from RER, urinary urea excretion, and the ratio of 13C:12C in expired gas during the final 60 min of exercise. During the placebo trial, fat oxidation was higher in females than in males (0.42 · 0.07 vs. 0.32 · 0.09 g · min−1 · kg LBM–1 × 10–2) at 30 min of exercise (p < .05). When averaged over the final 60 min of exercise, the relative proportions of fat, total carbohydrate, and protein were similar between groups. During CHOexo ingestion, both the ratio of 13C:12C in expired gas (p < .05) and the proportion of energy derived from CHOexo relative to LBM (p < .05) were higher in females compared to males at 75- and 90-min exercise. When averaged over the final 60 min of exercise, the percentage of CHOexo to the total energy contribution tended to be higher in females (14.3 · 1.2%) than in males (11.2 · 1.2%; p = .09). The reduction in endogenous CHO oxidation with CHOexo intake was also greater in females (12.9 · 3.1%) than in males (5.1 · 2.0%; p = .05). Compared to males, females may oxidize a greater relative proportion of CHOexo during endurance exercise which, in turn, may spare more endogenous fuel. Based on these observations, ingested carbohydrate may be a particularly beneficial source of fuel during endurance exercise for females.

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Brian D. Roy, Katherine Luttmer, Michael J. Bosman, and Mark A. Tarnopolsky

The purpose of this investigation was to determine the influence of post-exercise macronutrient intake on weight loss, protein metabolism, and endurance exercise performance during a period of increased training volume. Ten healthy young female endurance athletes performed 4 60-min bouts of cycle ergometry at ~65% of V̇O2peak on 4 days (day 1, 3, 4, and 6) during 2 separate 1-week periods. On day 7. participants performed a ride to exhaustion at ~75% of V̇O2peak. One of the 7-day periods served as a control condition, where a placebo beverage was consumed following the exercise bouts on days 1, 3, 4, and 6 (CON). During the other 7-day protocol (POST), participants consumed a predefined formula beverage with added carbohydrate following the exercise bouts on days 1. 3,4, and 6. Energy intake and macronutrient proportions were the same between the 2 trials; the only difference was the timing at which the macronutrients were consumed. Calculated fat oxidation was greater during exercise on day 6 during POST as compared to CON (p < .05). Glucose and insulin concentrations were significantly higher (p < .05) following exercise during POST as compared to CON. There was a trend (p = .06) for nitrogen balance to be greater on days 5 and 6 with POST as compared to CON. Time to exhaustion during exercise on day 7 was longer during POST as compared to CON (p < .05). POST resulted in a maintenance of body weight during the 7-day protocol, while there was a significant (p < .05) reduction with CON. It was concluded that post-exercise macronutrient intake following endurance exercise can attenuate reductions in body weight and improve nitrogen balance during 7 days of increased energy expenditure. Importantly, post-exercise supplementation improved time to exhaustion during a subsequent bout of endurance exercise.

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Darren G. Burke, Philip D. Chilibeck, Gianni Parise, Mark A. Tarnopolsky, and Darren G. Candow

α-lipoic acid has been found to enhance glucose uptake into skeletal muscle in animal models. Studies have also found that the co-ingestion of carbohydrate along with creatine increases muscle creatine uptake by a process related to insulin-stimulated glucose disposal. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of α-lipoic acid on human skeletal muscle creatine uptake by directly measuring intramuscular concentrations of creatine, phosphocreatine, and ad-enosine triphosphate when creatine monohydrate was co-ingested with α-lipoic acid. Muscle biopsies were acquired from the vastus lateralis m. of 16 male subjects (18–32 y) before and after the experimental intervention. After the initial biopsy, subjects ingested 20 g · d−1 of creatine monohydrate, 20 g · d−1 of creatine monohydrate + 100 g · d−1 of sucrose, or 20 g · d−1 of creatine monohydrate + 100 g · d−1 of sucrose + 1000 mg · d−1 of α-lipoic acid for 5 days. Subjects refrained from exercise and consumed the same balanced diet for 7 days. Body weight increased by 2.1% following the nutritional intervention, with no differences between the groups. There was a significant increase in total creatine concentration following creatine supplementation, with the group ingesting α-lipoic acid showing a significantly greater increase (p < .05) in phosphocreatine (87.6 → 106.2 mmol · kg−1 dry mass [dm]) and total creatine (137.8 → 156.8 mmol · kg−1 dm). These findings indicate that co-ingestion of α-lipoic acid with creatine and a small amount of sucrose can enhance muscle total creatine content as compared to the ingestion of creatine and sucrose or creatine alone.

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Darren G. Burke, Darren G. Candow, Philip D. Chilibeck, Lauren G. MacNeil, Brian D. Roy, Mark A. Tarnopolsky, and Tim Ziegenfuss

The purpose of this study was to compare changes in muscle insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I) content resulting from resistance-exercise training (RET) and creatine supplementation (CR). Male (n = 24) and female (n = 18) participants with minimal resistance-exercise-training experience (≥1 year) who were participating in at least 30 min of structured physical activity (i.e., walking, jogging, cycling) 3–5 ×/wk volunteered for the study. Participants were randomly assigned in blocks (gender) to supplement with creatine (CR: 0.25 g/kg lean-tissue mass for 7 days; 0.06 g/kg lean-tissue mass for 49 days; n = 22, 12 males, 10 female) or isocaloric placebo (PL: n = 20, 12 male, 8 female) and engage in a whole-body RET program for 8 wk. Eighteen participants were classified as vegetarian (lacto-ovo or vegan; CR: 5 male, 5 female; PL: 3 male, 5 female). Muscle biopsies (vastus lateralis) were taken before and after the intervention and analyzed for IGF-I using standard immunohistochemical procedures. Stained muscle cross-sections were examined microscopically and IGF-I content quantified using image-analysis software. Results showed that RET increased intramuscular IGF-I content by 67%, with greater accumulation from CR (+78%) than PL (+54%; p = .06). There were no differences in IGF-I between vegetarians and nonvegetarians. These findings indicate that creatine supplementation during resistance-exercise training increases intramuscular IGF-I concentration in healthy men and women, independent of habitual dietary routine.

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Andrew J.R. Cochran, Frank Myslik, Martin J. MacInnis, Michael E. Percival, David Bishop, Mark A. Tarnopolsky, and Martin J. Gibala

Commencing some training sessions with reduced carbohydrate (CHO) availability has been shown to enhance skeletal muscle adaptations, but the effect on exercise performance is less clear. We examined whether restricting CHO intake between twice daily sessions of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) augments improvements in exercise performance and mitochondrial content. Eighteen active but not highly trained subjects (peak oxygen uptake [VO2peak] = 44 ± 9 ml/kg/min), matched for age, sex, and fitness, were randomly allocated to two groups. On each of 6 days over 2 weeks, subjects completed two training sessions, each consisting of 5 × 4-min cycling intervals (60% of peak power), interspersed by 2 min of recovery. Subjects ingested either 195 g of CHO (HI-HI group: ~2.3 g/kg) or 17 g of CHO (HI-LO group: ~0.3 g/kg) during the 3-hr period between sessions. The training-induced improvement in 250-kJ time trial performance was greater (p = .02) in the HI-LO group (211 ± 66 W to 244 ± 75 W) compared with the HI-HI group (203 ± 53 W to 219 ± 60 W); however, the increases in mitochondrial content was similar between groups, as reflected by similar increases in citrate synthase maximal activity, citrate synthase protein content and cytochrome c oxidase subunit IV protein content (p > .05 for interaction terms). This is the first study to show that a short-term “train low, compete high” intervention can improve whole-body exercise capacity. Further research is needed to determine whether this type of manipulation can also enhance performance in highly-trained subjects.

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Andrew J.R. Cochran, Michael E. Percival, Sara Thompson, Jenna B. Gillen, Martin J. MacInnis, Murray A. Potter, Mark A. Tarnopolsky, and Martin J. Gibala

Sprint interval training (SIT), repeated bouts of high-intensity exercise, improves skeletal muscle oxidative capacity and exercise performance. β-alanine (β-ALA) supplementation has been shown to enhance exercise performance, which led us to hypothesize that chronic β-ALA supplementation would augment work capacity during SIT and augment training-induced adaptations in skeletal muscle and performance. Twenty-four active but untrained men (23 ± 2 yr; VO2peak = 50 ± 6 mL·kg−1·min−1) ingested 3.2 g/day of β-ALA or a placebo (PLA) for a total of 10 weeks (n = 12 per group). Following 4 weeks of baseline supplementation, participants completed a 6-week SIT intervention. Each of 3 weekly sessions consisted of 4–6 Wingate tests, i.e., 30-s bouts of maximal cycling, interspersed with 4 min of recovery. Before and after the 6-week SIT program, participants completed a 250-kJ time trial and a repeated sprint test. Biopsies (v. lateralis) revealed that skeletal muscle carnosine content increased by 33% and 52%, respectively, after 4 and 10 weeks of β-ALA supplementation, but was unchanged in PLA. Total work performed during each training session was similar across treatments. SIT increased markers of mitochondrial content, including cytochome c oxidase (40%) and β-hydroxyacyl-CoA dehydrogenase maximal activities (19%), as well as VO2peak (9%), repeated-sprint capacity (5%), and 250-kJ time trial performance (13%), but there were no differences between treatments for any measure (p < .01, main effects for time; p > .05, interaction effects). The training stimulus may have overwhelmed any potential influence of β-ALA, or the supplementation protocol was insufficient to alter the variables to a detectable extent.