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Marc Sim, Brian Dawson, Grant Landers, Debbie Trinder and Peter Peeling

The trace element iron plays a number of crucial physiological roles within the body. Despite its importance, iron deficiency remains a common problem among athletes. As an individual’s iron stores become depleted, it can affect their well-being and athletic capacity. Recently, altered iron metabolism in athletes has been attributed to postexercise increases in the iron regulatory hormone hepcidin, which has been reported to be upregulated by exercise-induced increases in the inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6. As such, when hepcidin levels are elevated, iron absorption and recycling may be compromised. To date, however, most studies have explored the acute postexercise hepcidin response, with limited research seeking to minimize/attenuate these increases. This review summarizes the current knowledge regarding the postexercise hepcidin response under a variety of exercise scenarios and highlights potential areas for future research—such as: a) the use of hormones though the female oral contraceptive pill to manipulate the postexercise hepcidin response, b) comparing the use of different exercise modes (e.g., cycling vs. running) on hepcidin regulation.

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Matthew Zimmermann, Grant Justin Landers and Karen Elizabeth Wallman

This study examined the effects of precooling via ice ingestion on female cycling performance in hot, humid conditions. Ten female endurance athletes, mean age (28 ± 6 y), height (167.6 ± 6.5 cm) and body-mass (68.0 ± 11.5 kg) participated in the study. Participants completed an 800 kJ cycle time-trial in hot, humid conditions (34.9 ± 0.3 °C, 49.8 ± 3.5% RH). This was preceded by the consumption of 7 g∙kg-1 of crushed ice (ICE) or water (CON). There was no difference in performance time (CON 3851 ± 449 s; ICE 3767 ± 465 s), oxygen consumption (CON 41.6 ± 7.0 ml∙kg∙min-1; ICE 42.4 ± 6.0 ml∙kg∙min-1) or respiratory exchange ratio (CON 0.88 ± 0.05; ICE 0.90 ± 0.06) between conditions (p > .05, d < 0.5). Core and skin temperature following the precooling period were lower in ICE (Tc 36.4 ± 0.4 °C; Tsk 31.6 ± 1.2 °C) compared with CON (Tc 37.1 ± 0.4 °C; Tsk 32.4 ± 0.7 °C) and remained lower until the 100 kJ mark of the cycle time-trial (p < .05, d > 1.0). Sweat onset occurred earlier in CON (228 ± 113 s) compared with ICE (411 ± 156 s) (p < .05, d = 1.63). Mean thermal sensation (CON 1.8 ± 2.0; ICE 1.2 ± 2.5, p < .05, d = 2.51), perceived exertion (CON 15.3 ± 2.9; ICE 14.9 ± 3.0, p < .05, d = 0.38) and perceived thirst (CON 5.6 ± 2.2; ICE 4.6 ± 2.4, p < .05, d = 0.98) were lower in ICE compared with CON. Crushed ice ingestion did not improve cycling performance in females, although perceptual responses were reduced.

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Matthew Zimmermann, Grant Landers, Karen E. Wallman and Jacinta Saldaris

This study examined the physiological effects of crushed ice ingestion before steady state exercise in the heat. Ten healthy males with age (23 ± 3 y), height (176.9 ± 8.7 cm), body-mass (73.5 ± 8.0 kg), VO2peak (48.5 ± 3.6 mL∙kg∙min-1) participated in the study. Participants completed 60 min of cycling at 55% of their VO2peak preceded by 30 min of precooling whereby 7 g∙kg-1 of thermoneutral water (CON) or crushed ice (ICE) was ingested. The reduction in Tc at the conclusion of precooling was greater in ICE (-0.9 ± 0.3 °C) compared with CON (-0.2 ± 0.2 °C) (p ≤ .05). Heat storage capacity was greater in ICE compared with CON after precooling (ICE -29.3 ± 4.8 W∙m-2; CON -11.1 ± 7.3 W∙m-2, p < .05). Total heat storage was greater in ICE compared with CON at the end of the steady state cycle (ICE 62.0 ± 12.5 W∙m-2; CON 49.9 ± 13.4 W∙m-2, p < .05). Gross efficiency was higher in ICE compared with CON throughout the steady state cycle (ICE 21.4 ± 1.8%; CON 20.4 ± 1.9%, p < .05). Ice ingestion resulted in a lower thermal sensation at the end of precooling and a lower sweat rate during the initial stages of cycling (p < .05). Sweat loss, respiratory exchange ratio, heart rate and ratings of perceived exertion and thirst were similar between conditions (p > .05). Precooling with crushed ice led to improved gross efficiency while cycling due to an increased heat storage capacity, which was the result of a lower core temperature.

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Mohammed Ihsan, Grant Landers, Matthew Brearley and Peter Peeling

Purpose:

The effect of crushed ice ingestion as a precooling method on 40-km cycling time trial (CTT) performance was investigated.

Methods:

Seven trained male subjects underwent a familiarization trial and two experimental CTT which were preceded by 30 min of either crushed ice ingestion (ICE) or tap water (CON) consumption amounting to 6.8 g⋅kg-1 body mass. The CTT required athletes to complete 1200 kJ of work on a wind-braked cycle ergometer. During the CTT, gastrointestinal (Tgi) and skin (Tsk) temperatures, cycling time, power output, heart rate (HR), blood lactate (BLa), ratings of perceived exertion (RPE) and thermal sensation (RPTS) were measured at set intervals of work.

Results:

Precooling lowered the Tgi after ICE significantly more than CON (36.74 ± 0.67°C vs 37.27 ± 0.24°C, P < .05). This difference remained evident until 200 kJ of work was completed on the bike (37.43 ± 0.42°C vs 37.64 ± 0.21°C). No significant differences existed between conditions at any time point for Tsk, RPE or HR (P > .05). The CTT completion time was 6.5% faster in ICE when compared with CON (ICE: 5011 ± 810 s, CON: 5359 ± 820 s, P < .05).

Conclusions:

Crushed ice ingestion was effective in lowering Tgi and improving subsequent 40-km cycling time trial performance. The mechanisms for this enhanced exercise performance remain to be clarified.

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Matthew Zimmermann, Grant Landers, Karen Wallman and Georgina Kent

This study compared the effects of precooling (ice ingestion) and heat-acclimation training on cycling time-trial (CTT) performance in the heat. Fifteen male cyclists/triathletes completed two 800-kJ CTTs in the heat, with a 12-d training program in between. Initially, all participants consumed 7 g/kg of water (22°C) in 30 min before completing an 800-kJ CTT in hot, humid conditions (pre-CTT) (35°C, 50% relative humidity [RH]). Participants were then split into 2 groups, with the precooling group (n = 7) training in thermoneutral conditions and then undergoing precooling with ice ingestion (7 g/kg, 1°C) prior to the final CTT (post-CTT) and the heat-acclimation group (n = 8) training in hot conditions (35°C, 50% RH) and consuming water (7 g/kg) prior to post-CTT. After training in both conditions, improvement in CTT time was deemed a likely positive benefit (precooling −166 ± 133 s, heat acclimation −105 ± 62 s), with this result being similar between conditions (d = 0.22, −0.68–1.08 90% confidence interval [CI]). Core temperature for post-CTT was lower in precooling than in heat acclimation from 20 min into the precooling period until the 100-kJ mark of the CTT (d > 0.98). Sweat onset occurred later in precooling (250 ± 100 s) than in heat acclimation (180 ± 80 s) for post-CTT (d = 0.65, −0.30–1.50 90% CI). Thermal sensation was lower at the end of the precooling period prior to post-CTT for the precooling trial than with heat acclimation (d = 1.24, 0.90–1.58 90% CI). Precooling with ice ingestion offers an alternative method of improving endurance-cycling performance in hot conditions if heat acclimation cannot be attained.

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Angela L. Spence, Marc Sim, Grant Landers and Peter Peeling

Both caffeine (CAF) and pseudoephedrine (PSE) are proposed to be central nervous system stimulants. However, during competition, CAF is a permitted substance, whereas PSE is a banned substance at urinary levels >150 μg·ml−1. As a result, this study aimed to compare the effect of CAF versus PSE use on cycling time trial (TT) performance to explore whether the legal stimulant was any less ergogenic than the banned substance. Here, 10 well-trained male cyclists or triathletes were recruited for participation. All athletes were required to attend the laboratory on four separate occasions—including a familiarization trial and three experimental trials, which required participants to complete a simulated 40 km (1,200 kJ) cycling TT after the ingestion of either 200 mg CAF, 180 mg PSE or a nonnutritive placebo (PLA). The results showed that the total time taken and the mean power produced during each TT was not significantly different (p > .05) between trials, despite a 1.3% faster overall time (~57 s) after CAF consumption. Interestingly, the time taken to complete the second half of the TT was significantly faster (p < .05) in CAF as compared with PSE (by 99 s), with magnitude based inferences suggesting a 91% beneficial effect of CAF during the second half of the TT. This investigation further confirms the ergogenic benefits of CAF use during TT performances and further suggests this legal CNS stimulant has a better influence than a supra-therapeutic dose of PSE.

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Jacinta M. Saldaris, Grant J. Landers and Brendan S. Lay

Purpose: To examine the effects of precooling via crushed ice ingestion on cognitive function during exercise in the heat. Methods: Eleven active men ingested either 7 g·kg−1 of crushed ice (ICE) or thermoneutral water (CON) 30 minutes before running 90 minutes on a treadmill at a velocity equivalent to 65% VO2peak in hot and humid conditions (35.0°C [0.5°C], 53.1% [3.9%] relative humidity). Participants completed 3 cognitive tasks to investigate decision making (8-choice reaction time [CRT]), working memory (serial seven [S7]), and executive control (color multisource interference task [cMSIT]) on arrival, after precooling, and after running. Results: Precooling significantly decreased preexercise core (T core) and forehead skin temperature in ICE compared with CON, respectively (T core 0.8°C [0.4°C], –0.2°C [0.1°C]; T head –0.5°C [0.4°C], 0.2°C [0.8°C]; P ≤ .05). Postrun, ICE significantly reduced errors compared with CON for CRT (P ≤ .05; d = 0.90; 90% confidence interval, 0.13–1.60) and S7 (P ≤ .05; d = 1.05; 90% confidence interval, 0.26–1.75). Thermal sensation was lower after precooling with ICE (P ≤ .05), but no significant differences were recorded between conditions for cMSIT errors, skin temperature, heart rate, or ratings of perceived exertion or perceived thirst (P > .05). Conclusions: Precooling via ICE maintained cognitive accuracy in decision making and working memory during exercise in the heat. Thus, ICE may have the potential to improve sporting performance by resisting deleterious effects of exercise in a hot and humid environment on cognitive function.

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Peter Peeling, Brian Dawson, Carmel Goodman, Grant Landers, Erwin T. Wiegerinck, Dorine W. Swinkels and Debbie Trinder

Urinary hepcidin, inflammation, and iron metabolism were examined during the 24 hr after exercise. Eight moderately trained athletes (6 men, 2 women) completed a 60-min running trial (15-min warm-up at 75–80% HRpeak + 45 min at 85–90% HRpeak) and a 60-min trial of seated rest in a randomized, crossover design. Venous blood and urine samples were collected pretrial, immediately posttrial, and at 3, 6, and 24 hr posttrial. Samples were analyzed for interleukin-6 (IL-6), C-reactive protein (CRP), serum iron, serum ferritin, and urinary hepcidin. The immediate postrun levels of IL-6 and 24-hr postrun levels of CRP were significantly increased from baseline (6.9 and 2.6 times greater, respectively) and when compared with the rest trial (p ≤ .05). Hepcidin levels in the run trial after 3, 6, and 24 hr of recovery were significantly greater (1.7–3.1 times) than the pre- and immediate postrun levels (p ≤ .05). This outcome was consistent in all participants, despite marked variation in the magnitude of rise. In addition, the 3-hr postrun levels of hepcidin were significantly greater than at 3 hr in the rest trial (3.0 times greater, p ≤ .05). Hepcidin levels continued to increase at 6 hr postrun but failed to significantly differ from the rest trial (p = .071), possibly because of diurnal influence. Finally, serum iron levels were significantly increased immediately postrun (1.3 times, p ≤ .05). The authors concluded that high-intensity exercise was responsible for a significant increase in hepcidin levels subsequent to a significant increase in IL-6 and serum iron.

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Paul S.R. Goods, Brian T. Dawson, Grant J. Landers, Christopher J. Gore and Peter Peeling

Purpose:

This study aimed to assess the impact of 3 heights of simulated altitude exposure on repeat-sprint performance in teamsport athletes.

Methods:

Ten trained male team-sport athletes completed 3 sets of repeated sprints (9 × 4 s) on a nonmotorized treadmill at sea level and at simulated altitudes of 2000, 3000, and 4000 m. Participants completed 4 trials in a random order over 4 wk, with mean power output (MPO), peak power output (PPO), blood lactate concentration (Bla), and oxygen saturation (SaO2) recorded after each set.

Results:

Each increase in simulated altitude corresponded with a significant decrease in SaO2. Total work across all sets was highest at sea level and correspondingly lower at each successive altitude (P < .05; sea level < 2000 m < 3000 m < 4000 m). In the first set, MPO was reduced only at 4000 m, but for subsequent sets, decreases in MPO were observed at all altitudes (P < .05; 2000 m < 3000 m < 4000 m). PPO was maintained in all sets except for set 3 at 4000 m (P < .05; vs sea level and 2000 m). BLa levels were highest at 4000 m and significantly greater (P < .05) than at sea level after all sets.

Conclusions:

These results suggest that “higher may not be better,” as a simulated altitude of 4000 m may potentially blunt absolute training quality. Therefore, it is recommended that a moderate simulated altitude (2000–3000 m) be employed when implementing intermittent hypoxic repeat-sprint training for team-sport athletes.

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Marc Sim, Brian Dawson, Grant Landers, Dorine W. Swinkels, Harold Tjalsma, Debbie Trinder and Peter Peeling

The effect of exercise modality and intensity on Interleukin-6 (IL-6), iron status, and hepcidin levels was investigated. Ten trained male triathletes performed 4 exercise trials including low-intensity continuous running (L-R), low-intensity continuous cycling (L-C), high-intensity interval running (H-R), and high-intensity interval cycling (H-C). Both L-R and L-C consisted of 40 min continuous exercise performed at 65% of peak running velocity (vVO2peak) and cycling power output (pVO2peak), while H-R and H-C consisted of 8 × 3-min intervals performed at 85% vVO2peak and pVO2peak. Venous blood samples were drawn pre-, post-, and 3 hr postexercise. Significant increases in postexercise IL-6 were seen within each trial (p < .05) and were significantly greater in H-R than L-R (p < .05). Hepcidin levels were significantly elevated at 3 hr postexercise within each trial (p < .05). Serum iron levels were significantly elevated (p < .05) immediately postexercise in all trials except L-C. These results suggest that, regardless of exercise mode or intensity, postexercise increases in IL-6 may be expected, likely influencing a subsequent elevation in hepcidin. Regardless, the lack of change in postexercise serum iron levels in L-C may indicate that reduced hemolysis occurs during weight-supported, low-intensity activity.