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Daniel Martin, Craig Sale, Simon B. Cooper and Kirsty J. Elliott-Sale

Purpose: To identify the period prevalence of hormonal contraceptive (HC) use and characterize the perceived side effects associated with the menstrual cycle and HC use. Methods: A total of 430 elite female athletes completed a questionnaire to assess the period prevalence of HC use, the reasons for initiation and discontinuation of HCs, and the side effects experienced by HC and non-HC users. Descriptive statistics, between-groups comparisons, and associations between categorical variables were calculated. Results : Of athletes studied, 49.5% were currently using HCs and 69.8% had used HCs at some point. Combined oral contraceptives were most commonly used (68.1%), with 30.0% using progestin-only contraceptives (implant = 13.1%, injection = 3.7%, and intrauterine system = 2.8%). Perceived negative side effects were more common with progestin-only HC use (39.1%) compared with combined-HC use (17.8%; P = .001) and were most prevalent in implant users (53.6%; P = .004). HC users reported perceived positive side effects relating to their ability to predict and/or manipulate the timing, frequency, and amount of menstrual bleeding. Non-HC users had a menstrual cycle length of 29 (5) d and 77.4% reported negative side effects during their menstrual cycle, primarily during days 1–2 of menstruation (81.6%). Conclusions: Approximately half of elite athletes used HCs, and progestin-only contraceptive users reported greater incidences of negative side effects, especially with the implant. Because of the high interindividual variability in reported side effects, athletes and practitioners should maintain an open dialogue to pursue the best interests of the athlete.

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Bryan Saunders, Craig Sale, Roger C. Harris and Caroline Sunderland

Purpose:

To determine whether gastrointestinal (GI) distress affects the ergogenicity of sodium bicarbonate and whether the degree of alkalemia or other metabolic responses is different between individuals who improve exercise capacity and those who do not.

Methods:

Twenty-one men completed 2 cycling-capacity tests at 110% of maximum power output. Participants were supplemented with 0.3 g/kg body mass of either placebo (maltodextrin) or sodium bicarbonate (SB). Blood pH, bicarbonate, base excess, and lactate were determined at baseline, preexercise, immediately postexercise, and 5 min postexercise.

Results:

SB supplementation did not significantly increase total work done (TWD; P = .16, 46.8 · 9.1 vs 45.6 · 8.4 kJ, d = 0.14), although magnitude-based inferences suggested a 63% likelihood of a positive effect. When data were analyzed without 4 participants who experienced GI discomfort, TWD (P = .01) was significantly improved with SB. Immediately postexercise blood lactate was higher in SB for the individuals who improved but not for those who did not. There were also differences in the preexercise-to-postexercise change in blood pH, bicarbonate, and base excess between individuals who improved and those who did not.

Conclusions:

SB improved high-intensity-cycling capacity but only with the exclusion of participants experiencing GI discomfort. Differences in blood responses suggest that SB may not be beneficial to all individuals. Magnitude-based inferences suggested that the exercise effects are unlikely to be negative; therefore, individuals should determine whether they respond well to SB supplementation before competition.

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Bryan Saunders, Craig Sale, Roger C. Harris and Caroline Sunderland

Purpose:

To investigate the separate and combined effects of sodium bicarbonate and beta-alanine supplementation on repeated sprints during simulated match play performed in hypoxia.

Methods:

Study A: 20 recreationally active participants performed two trials following acute supplementation with either sodium bicarbonate (0.3 g·kg−1BM) or placebo (maltodextrin). Study B: 16 recreationally active participants were supplemented with either a placebo or beta-alanine for 5 weeks (6.4 g·day−1 for 4 weeks, 3.2 g·day−1 for 1 week), and performed one trial before supplementation (with maltodextrin) and two following supplementation (with sodium bicarbonate and maltodextrin). Trials consisted of 3 sets of 5 × 6 s repeated sprints performed during a football specific intermittent treadmill protocol performed in hypoxia (15.5% O2). Mean (MPO) and peak (PPO) power output were recorded as the performance measures.

Results:

Study A: Overall MPO was lower with sodium bicarbonate than placebo (p = .02, 539.4 ± 84.5 vs. 554.0 ± 84.6 W), although there was no effect across sets (all p > .05). Study B: There was no effect of beta-alanine, or cosupplementation with sodium bicarbonate, on either parameter, although there was a trend toward higher MPO with sodium bicarbonate (p = .07).

Conclusions:

The effect of sodium bicarbonate on repeated sprints was equivocal, although there was no effect of beta-alanine or cosupplementation with sodium bicarbonate. Individual variation may have contributed to differences in results with sodium bicarbonate, although the lack of an effect with beta-alanine suggests this type of exercise may not be influenced by increased buffering capacity.

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Graeme L. Close, Craig Sale, Keith Baar and Stephane Bermon

Injuries are an inevitable consequence of athletic performance with most athletes sustaining one or more during their athletic careers. As many as one in 12 athletes incur an injury during international competitions, many of which result in time lost from training and competition. Injuries to skeletal muscle account for over 40% of all injuries, with the lower leg being the predominant site of injury. Other common injuries include fractures, especially stress fractures in athletes with low energy availability, and injuries to tendons and ligaments, especially those involved in high-impact sports, such as jumping. Given the high prevalence of injury, it is not surprising that there has been a great deal of interest in factors that may reduce the risk of injury, or decrease the recovery time if an injury should occur: One of the main variables explored is nutrition. This review investigates the evidence around various nutrition strategies, including macro- and micronutrients, as well as total energy intake, to reduce the risk of injury and improve recovery time, focusing upon injuries to skeletal muscle, bone, tendons, and ligaments.

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Ruth M. Hobson, Roger C. Harris, Dan Martin, Perry Smith, Ben Macklin, Kirsty J. Elliott-Sale and Craig Sale

The ability to buffer H+ could be vital to exercise performance, as high concentrations of H+ contribute to the development of fatigue.

Purpose:

The authors examined the effect of sodium bicarbonate (SB) supplementation on 2000-m rowing-ergometer performance.

Methods:

Twenty male rowers (age 23 ± 4 y, height 1.85 ± 0.08 m, mass 82.5 ± 8.9 kg, 2000-m personal-best time 409 ± 16 s) completed two 2000-m rowing-ergometer time trials, separated by 48 h. Participants were supplemented before exercise with 0.3 g/kg body mass of SB or a placebo (maltodextrin; PLA). The trials were conducted using a double-blinded, randomized, counterbalanced crossover study design. Time to complete the 2000-m and time taken for each 500-m split were recorded. Blood lactate, bicarbonate, pH, and base excess were determined preexercise, immediately postexercise, and 5 min postexercise. Performance data were analyzed using paired t tests, as well as magnitude-based inferences; hematological data were analyzed using a repeated-measures ANOVA.

Results:

Using paired t tests, there was no benefit of SB over PLA (P = .095). However, using magnitude-based inferences there was a likely beneficial effect of SB compared with PLA (PLA 412.0 ± 15.1 s, SB 410.7 ± 14.9 s). Furthermore, SB was 0.5 ± 1.2 s faster than PLA in the third 500 m (P = .035; possibly beneficial) and 1.1 ± 1.7 s faster in the fourth 500 m (P = .004; very likely beneficial). All hematological data were different between SB and PLA and were different from preexercise to postexercise.

Conclusion:

SB supplementation is likely to be beneficial to the performance of those competing in 2000-m rowing events, particularly in the second half of the event.

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Ruth M. Hobson, Roger C. Harris, Dan Martin, Perry Smith, Ben Macklin, Bruno Gualano and Craig Sale

Purpose:

To examine the effect of beta-alanine only and beta-alanine with sodium bicarbonate supplementation on 2,000-m rowing performance.

Methods:

Twenty well-trained rowers (age 23 ± 4 y; height 1.85 ± 0.08 m; body mass 82.5 ± 8.9 kg) were assigned to either a placebo or beta-alanine (6.4 g·d−1 for 4 weeks) group. A 2,000-m rowing time trial (TT) was performed before supplementation (Baseline) and after 28 and 30 days of supplementation. The post supplementation trials involved supplementation with either maltodextrin or sodium bicarbonate in a double-blind, crossover design, creating four study conditions (placebo with maltodextrin; placebo with sodium bicarbonate; beta-alanine with maltodextrin; beta-alanine with sodium bicarbonate). Blood lactate, pH, bicarbonate, and base excess were measured pre-TT, immediately post-TT and at TT+5 min. Performance data were analyzed using magnitude based inferences.

Results:

Beta-alanine supplementation was very likely to be beneficial to 2,000-m rowing performance (6.4 ± 8.1 s effect compared with placebo), with the effect of sodium bicarbonate having a likely benefit (3.2 ± 8.8 s). There was a small (1.1 ± 5.6 s) but possibly beneficial additional effect when combining chronic beta-alanine supplementation with acute sodium bicarbonate supplementation compared with chronic beta-alanine supplementation alone. Sodium bicarbonate ingestion led to increases in plasma pH, base excess, bicarbonate, and lactate concentrations.

Conclusions:

Both chronic beta-alanine and acute sodium bicarbonate supplementation alone had positive effects on 2,000-m rowing performance. The addition of acute sodium bicarbonate to chronic beta-alanine supplementation may further enhance rowing performance.

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Rebecca Louise Jones, Trent Stellingwerff, Guilherme Giannini Artioli, Bryan Saunders, Simon Cooper and Craig Sale

To defend against hydrogen cation accumulation and muscle fatigue during exercise, sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3) ingestion is commonplace. The individualized dose-response relationship between NaHCO3 ingestion and blood biochemistry is unclear. The present study investigated the bicarbonate, pH, base excess and sodium responses to NaHCO3 ingestion. Sixteen healthy males (23 ± 2 years; 78.6 ± 15.1 kg) attended three randomized order-balanced, nonblinded sessions, ingesting a single dose of either 0.1, 0.2 or 0.3 g·kg-1BM of NaHCO3 (Intralabs, UK). Fingertip capillary blood was obtained at baseline and every 10 min for 1 hr, then every 15 min for a further 2 hr. There was a significant main effect of both time and condition for all assessed blood analytes (p ≤ .001). Blood analyte responses were significantly lower following 0.1 g·kg-1BM compared with 0.2 g·kg-1BM; bicarbonate concentrations and base excess were highest following ingestion of 0.3 g·kg-1BM (p ≤ .01). Bicarbonate concentrations and pH significantly increased from baseline following all doses; the higher the dose the greater the increase. Large interindividual variability was shown in the magnitude of the increase in bicarbonate concentrations following each dose (+2.0–5; +5.1–8.1; and +6.0–12.3 mmol·L-1 for 0.1, 0.2 and 0.3 g·kg-1BM) and in the range of time to peak concentrations (30–150; 40–165; and 75–180 min for 0.1, 0.2 and 0.3 g·kg-1BM). The variability in bicarbonate responses was not affected by normalization to body mass. These results challenge current practices relating to NaHCO3 supplementation and clearly show the need for athletes to individualize their ingestion protocol and trial varying dosages before competition.