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Mathilde Guillochon and David S. Rowlands

Carbohydrate sports drinks produce worthwhile benefits to endurance performance compared with noncaloric controls. However, athletes now consume carbohydrate in a range of formats, including gels and bars, but the comparable performance outcomes are unknown. Therefore, the aim of this study was to establish the relative effects of drink, gel, bar, and mixed carbohydrate formats on intense cycling performance. In a treatmentapparent randomized crossover design, 12 well-trained male cyclists completed 4 trials comprising a 140-min race simulation, followed by a double-blind slow-ramp to exhaustion (0.333 W·s-1). Carbohydrate comprising fructose and maltodextrin was ingested every 20 min via commercial drink, gel, bar, or mix of all 3, providing 80 g carbohydrate·h-1. Fluid ingestion was 705 ml·h-1. Exertion, fatigue, and gastrointestinal discomfort were measured with VAS. Performance peak power (SD) was 370 (41), 376 (37), 362 (51) and 368 W (54) for drink, gels, bars, and mix respectively. The reduction in power (-3.9%; 90%CI ±4.3) following bar ingestion vs. gel was likely substantial (likelihood harm 81.2%; benefit 0.8%), but no clear differences between drinks, gels, and the mix were evident. Bars also produced small-moderate standardized increases in nausea, stomach fullness, abdominal cramps, and perceived exertion, relative to gels (likelihood harm 95–99.5%; benefit <0.01%) and drink (75–95%; <0.01%); mix also increased nausea relative to gels (95%; <0.01%). Relative to a gel, carbohydrate bar ingestion reduced peak power, gut comfort, and ease of exertion; furthermore, no clear difference relative to drink suggests bars alone are the less favorable exogenous-carbohydrate energy source for intense endurance performance.

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David S. Rowlands and Will G. Hopkins

The effect of pre-exercise meal composition on metabolism and performance in cycling were investigated in a crossover study. Twelve competitive cyclists ingested high-fat, high-carbohydrate, or high-protein meals 90 min before a weekly exercise test. The test consisted of a 1-hour pre-load at 55% peak power, five 10-min incremental loads from 55 to 82% peak power (to measure the peak fat-oxidation rate), and a 50-km time trial that included three 1-km and 4-km sprints. A carbohydrate supplement was ingested throughout the exercise. Relative to the high-protein and high-fat meals, the high-carbohydrate meal halved the peak fat-oxidation rate and reduced the fat oxidation across all workloads by a factor of 0.20 to 0.58 (p = .002–.0001). Reduced fat availability may have accounted for this reduction, as indicated by lower plasma fatty acid, lower glycerol, and higher pre-exercise insulin concentrations relative to the other meals (p = .04–.0001). In contrast, fat oxidation following the high-protein meal was similar to that following the high-fat meal. This similarity was linked to evidence suggesting greater lipolysis and plasma fat availability following high-protein relative to high-carbohydrate meals. Despite these substantial effects on metabolism, meal composition had no clear effect on sprint or 50-km performance.

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David S. Rowlands, Darrell L. Bonetti and Will G. Hopkins

Isotonic sports drinks are often consumed to offset the effects of dehydration and improve endurance performance, but hypotonic drinks may be more advantageous. The purpose of the study was to compare absorption and effects on performance of a commercially available hypotonic sports drink (Mizone Rapid: 3.9% carbohydrate [CHO], 218 mOsmol/kg) with those of an isotonic drink (PowerAde: 7.6% CHO, 281 mOsmol/kg), a hypertonic drink (Gatorade: 6% CHO, 327 mOsmol/kg), and a noncaloric placebo (8 mOsmol/kg). In a crossover, 11 cyclists consumed each drink on separate days at 250 ml/15 min during a 2-hr preload ride at 55% peak power followed by an incremental test to exhaustion. Small to moderate increases in deuterium oxide enrichment in the preload were observed with Mizone Rapid relative to PowerAde, Gatorade, and placebo (differences of 88, 45, and 42 parts per million, respectively; 90% confidence limits ±28). Serum osmolality was moderately lower with Mizone Rapid than with PowerAde and Gatorade (–1.9, –2.4; mOsmol/L; ±1.2 mOsmol/L) but not clearly different vs. placebo. Plasma volume reduction was small to moderate with Mizone Rapid, PowerAde, and Gatorade relative to placebo (–1.9%, –2.5%, –2.9%; ± 2.5%). Gut comfort was highest with Mizone Rapid but clearly different (8.4% ± 4.8%) only vs PowerAde. Peak power was highest with Mizone Rapid (380 W) vs. placebo and other drinks (1.2–3.0%; 99% confidence limits ±4.7%), but differences were inconclusive with reference to the smallest important effect (~1.2%). The outcomes are consistent with fastest fluid absorption with the hypotonic sports drink. Further research should determine whether the effect has a meaningful impact on performance.

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David S. Rowlands, Rhys M. Thorp, Karin Rossler, David F. Graham and Mike J. Rockell

Carbohydrate ingestion after prolonged strenuous exercise enhances recovery, but protein might also be important. In a crossover with 2-wk washout, 10 cyclists completed 2.5 h of intervals followed by 4-h recovery feeding, provided 218 g protein, 435 g carbohydrate, and 79 g fat (protein enriched) or 34 g protein, 640 g carbohydrate, and 79 g fat (isocaloric control). The next morning, cyclists performed 10 maximal constant-work sprints on a Velotron cycle ergometer, each lasting ~2.5 min, at ~5-min intervals. Test validity was established and test reliability and the individual response to the protein-enriched condition estimated by 6 cyclists’ repeating the intervals, recovery feeding, and performance test 2 wk later in the protein-enriched condition. During the 4-h recovery, the protein-enriched feeding had unclear effects on mean concentrations of plasma insulin, cortisol, and growth hormone, but testosterone was 25% higher (90% confidence limits, ± 14%). Protein enrichment also reduced plasma creatine kinase by 33% (±38%) the next morning and reduced tiredness and leg-soreness sensations during the sprints, but effects on mean sprint power were unclear (–1.4%, ±4.3%). The between-subjects trial-to-trial coefficient of variation in overall mean sprint power was 3.1% (±3.4%), whereas the variation in the protein-enriched condition was 5.9% (±6.9%), suggesting that individual responses to the protein-enriched treatment contributed to the unclear performance outcome. To conclude, protein-enriched recovery feeding had no clear effect on next-day performance.

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Eric R. Helms, Caryn Zinn, David S. Rowlands, Ruth Naidoo and John Cronin

Purpose:

Athletes risk performance and muscle loss when dieting. Strategies to prevent losses are unclear. This study examined the effects of two diets on anthropometrics, strength, and stress in athletes.

Methods:

This double-blind crossover pilot study began with 14 resistance-trained males (20-43 yr) and incurred one dropout. Participants followed carbohydrate-matched, high-protein low-fat (HPLF) or moderate-protein moderate-fat (MPMF) diets of 60% habitual calories for 2 weeks. Protein intakes were 2.8g/kg and 1.6g/kg and mean fat intakes were 15.4% and 36.5% of calories, respectively. Isometric midthigh pull (IMTP) and anthropometrics were measured at baseline and completion. The Daily Analysis of Life Demands of Athletes (DALdA) and Profile of Mood States (POMS) were completed daily. Outcomes were presented statistically as probability of clinical benefit, triviality, or harm with effect sizes (ES) and qualitative assessments.

Results:

Differences of effect between diets on IMTP and anthropometrics were likely or almost certainly trivial, respectively. Worse than normal scores on DALDA part A, part B and the part A “diet” item were likely more harmful (ES 0.32, 0.4 and 0.65, respectively) during MPMF than HPLF. The POMS fatigue score was likely more harmful (ES 0.37) and the POMS total mood disturbance score (TMDS) was possibly more harmful (ES 0.29) during MPMF than HPLF.

Conclusions:

For the 2 weeks observed, strength and anthropometric differences were minimal while stress, fatigue, and diet-dissatisfaction were higher during MPMF. A HPLF diet during short-term weight loss may be more effective at mitigating mood disturbance, fatigue, diet dissatisfaction, and stress than a MPMF diet.

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Eric R. Helms, Caryn Zinn, David S. Rowlands and Scott R. Brown

Caloric restriction occurs when athletes attempt to reduce body fat or make weight. There is evidence that protein needs increase when athletes restrict calories or have low body fat.

Purpose:

The aims of this review were to evaluate the effects of dietary protein on body composition in energy-restricted resistance-trained athletes and to provide protein recommendations for these athletes.

Methods:

Database searches were performed from earliest record to July 2013 using the terms protein, and intake, or diet, and weight, or train, or restrict, or energy, or strength, and athlete. Studies (N = 6) needed to use adult (≥ 18 yrs), energy-restricted, resistance-trained (> 6 months) humans of lower body fat (males ≤ 23% and females ≤ 35%) performing resistance training. Protein intake, fat free mass (FFM) and body fat had to be reported.

Results:

Body fat percentage decreased (0.5–6.6%) in all study groups (N = 13) and FFM decreased (0.3–2.7kg) in nine of 13. Six groups gained, did not lose, or lost nonsignificant amounts of FFM. Five out of these six groups were among the highest in body fat, lowest in caloric restriction, or underwent novel resistance training stimuli. However, the one group that was not high in body fat that underwent substantial caloric restriction, without novel training stimuli, consumed the highest protein intake out of all the groups in this review (2.5–2.6g/kg).

Conclusions:

Protein needs for energy-restricted resistance-trained athletes are likely 2.3–3.1g/kg of FFM scaled upwards with severity of caloric restriction and leanness.