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Chris McGlory and James P. Morton

The aim of this study was to determine the effects of postexercise ingestion of different-molecular-weight glucose polymer solutions on subsequent high-intensity interval-running capacity. In a repeated-measures design, 6 men ran for 60 min in the morning at 70% VO2max. Immediately post- and at 1 and 2 hr postexercise, participants consumed a 15% low-molecular-weight (LMW) or high-molecular-weight (HMW) carbohydrate solution, at a rate of 1.2 g of carbohydrate/kg body mass, or an equivalent volume of flavored water (WAT). After recovery, participants performed repeated 1-min intervals at 90% VO2max interspersed with 1 min active recovery (walking) until volitional exhaustion. Throughout the 3-hr recovery period, plasma glucose concentrations were higher (p = .002) during the HMW and LMW conditions than with WAT (M 7.0 ± 0.8, 7.5 ± 1.0, and 5.6 ± 0.2 mmol/L, respectively), although there was no difference (p = .723) between HMW and LMW conditions. Exercise capacity was 13 (43 ± 10 min; 95% CI for differences: 8–18; p = .001) and 11 min (41 ± 9 min; 95% CI for differences; 2–18: p = .016) longer with HMW and LMW solutions, respectively, than with WAT (30 ± 9 min). There was no substantial difference (2 min; 95% CI for differences: –5 to 10; p = .709) in exercise capacity between LMW and HMW solutions. Although this magnitude of difference is most likely trivial in nature, the uncertainty allows for a possible small substantial enhancement of physiological significance, and further research is required to clarify the true nature of the effect.

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James P. Morton, Colin Robertson, Laura Sutton and Don P. M

Professional boxing is a combat sport categorized into a series of weight classes. Given the sport’s underpinning culture, boxers’ typical approach to “making weight” is usually via severe acute and/or chronic energy restriction and dehydration. Such practices have implications for physical performance and also carry health risks. This article provides a case-study account outlining a more structured and gradual approach to helping a professional male boxer make weight for the 59-kg superfeatherweight division. Over a 12-week period, the client athlete adhered to a daily diet approximately equivalent to his resting metabolic rate (6–7 MJ; 40% carbohydrate, 38% protein, 22% fat). Average body-mass loss was 0.9 ± 0.4 kg/wk, equating to a total loss of 9.4 kg. This weight loss resulted in a decrease in percent body fat from 12.1% to 7.0%. In the 30 hr between weigh-in and competition, the client consumed a high-carbohydrate diet (12 g/kg body mass) supported by appropriate hydration strategies and subsequently entered the ring at a fighting weight of 63.2 kg. This nutritional strategy represented a major change in the client’s habitual weight-making practices and did not rely on any form of intended dehydration during the training period or before weighing in. The intervention demonstrates that a more gradual approach to making weight in professional boxing can be successfully achieved via a combination of restricted energy intake and increased energy expenditure, providing there is willingness on the part of the athlete and coaches involved to adopt novel practices.

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George Wilson, Dan Martin, James P. Morton and Graeme L. Close

Despite consistent reports of poor bone health in male jockeys, it is not yet known if this is a consequence of low energy availability or lack of an osteogenic stimulus. Given the rationale that low energy availability is a contributing factor in low bone health, we tested the hypothesis that both hip and lumbar bone mineral density (BMD) should progressively worsen in accordance with the years of riding. In a cross-sectional design, male apprentice (n = 17) and senior (n = 14) jockeys (matched for body mass and fat-free mass) were assessed for hip and lumbar spine BMD, as well as both measured and predicted resting metabolic rate (RMR). Despite differences (p < .05) in years of race riding (3.4 ± 2 vs. 16.3 ± 6.8), no differences were apparent (p > .05) in hip (−0.9 ± 1.1 vs. −0.8 ± 0.7) and lumbar Z-scores (−1.3 ± 1.4 vs. −1.5 ± 1) or measured RMR (1,459 ± 160 vs. 1,500 ± 165 kcal/day) between apprentices and senior jockeys, respectively. Additionally, years of race riding did not demonstrate any significant correlations (p > .05) with either hip or lumbar spine BMD. Measured RMR was also not different (p > .05) from predicted RMR in either apprentice (1,520 ± 44 kcal/day) or senior jockeys (1,505 ± 70 kcal/day). When considered with previously published data examining underreporting of energy intake and direct assessments of energy expenditure, we suggest that low BMD in jockeys is not due to low energy availability per se but rather the lack of an osteogenic stimulus associated with riding.

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Conor Taylor, Daniel Higham, Graeme L. Close and James P. Morton

The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that adding caffeine to postexercise carbohydrate (CHO) feedings improves subsequent high-intensity interval-running capacity compared with CHO alone. In a repeated-measures design, 6 men performed a glycogen-depleting exercise protocol until volitional exhaustion in the morning. Immediately after and at 1, 2, and 3 hr postexercise, participants consumed 1.2 g/kg body mass CHO of a 15% CHO solution, a similar CHO solution but with addition of 8 mg/kg body mass of caffeine (CHO+CAFF), or an equivalent volume of flavored water only (WAT). After the 4-hr recovery period, participants performed the Loughborough Intermittent Shuttle Test (LIST) to volitional exhaustion as a measure of high-intensity interval-running capacity. Average blood glucose values during the 4-hr recovery period were higher in the CHO conditions (p < .005) than in the WAT trial (4.6 ± 0.3 mmol/L), although there was no difference (p = .46) between CHO (6.2 ± 0.8 mmol/L) and CHO+CAFF (6.7 ± 1.0 mmol/L). Exercise capacity during the LIST was significantly longer in the CHO+CAFF trial (48 ± 15 min) than in the CHO (32 ± 15 min, p = .04) and WAT conditions (19 ± 6 min, p = .001). All 6 participants improved performance in CHO+CAFF compared with CHO (95% CI for mean difference = 1–32 min). The study provides novel data by demonstrating that adding caffeine to postexercise CHO feeding improves subsequent high-intensity interval-running capacity, a finding that may be related to higher rates of postexercise muscle glycogen resynthesis previously observed under similar feeding conditions.

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Tim Donovan, Tim Ballam, James P. Morton and Graeme L. Close

The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that β-alanine supplementation improves punch power and frequency in amateur boxers during a simulated contest. Sixteen amateur boxers (each approximately 6 yr experience) were assigned to β-alanine (n = 8; 1.5 g 4 times/d for 4 wk) or placebo supplementation (n = 8) after initially being assessed for baseline punch performance. Before and after the supplementation period, all boxers completed a simulated contest consisting of 3 × 3-min rounds (interspersed with 60-s rests) on a punching bag (with a force transducer attached). Each round involved performing 2 min 50 s standardized punching (standardized jab, cross combination) based on notation analysis, whereas the last 10 s involved maximal-output punching (standardized jab, cross combination), during which time punch force and frequency were recorded. Postcontest blood lactate was significantly increased in the β-alanine group (presupplementation 9.5 ± 0.9 mmol/L, postsupplementation 12.6 ± 0.5 mmol/L, p < .05), whereas the placebo group showed no change (presupplementation 8 ± 2.8 mmol/L, postsupplementation 7.0 ± 2.7 mmol/L; p > .05). During the 10-s maximal-output punching, changes in mean punch force (β-alanine 20 ± 1.01 kg, placebo 1 ± 1 kg) and punch frequency (β-alanine 5 ± 4, placebo –2 ± 3) were greater (p < .05) in the β-alanine-supplemented group. The authors conclude that β-alanine supplementation improves punching performance in amateur boxers and suggest that this supplementation protocol may also prove ergogenic for other combat-related sports.

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Xuguang Zhang, Niamh O’Kennedy and James P. Morton

The provision of exogenous carbohydrate (CHO) in the form of energy gels is regularly practiced among endurance and team sport athletes. However, in those instances where athletes ingest suboptimal fluid intake, consuming gels during exercise may lead to gastrointestinal (GI) problems when the nutritional composition of the gel is not aligned with promoting gastric emptying. Accordingly, the aim of the current study was to quantify the degree of diversity in nutritional composition of commercially available CHO gels intended for use in the global sports nutrition market. We surveyed 31 product ranges (incorporating 51 flavor variants) from 23 brands (Accelerade, CNP, High5, GU, Hammer, Maxim, Clif, USN, Mule, Multipower, Nectar, Carb-Boom, Power Bar, Lucozade, Shotz, TORQ, Dextro, Kinetica, SiS, Zipvit, Maxifuel, Gatorade and Squeezy). Gels differed markedly in serving size (50 ± 22 g: 29–120), energy density (2.34 ± 0.7 kcal/g: 0.83–3.40), energy content (105 ± 24 kcal: 78–204), CHO content (26 ± 6 g: 18–51) and free sugar content (9.3 ± 7.0 g: 0.6–26.8). Most notably, gels displayed extreme variation in osmolality (4424 ± 2883 mmol/kg: 303–10,135) thereby having obvious implications for both GI discomfort and the total fluid intake likely required to optimize CHO delivery and oxidation. The large diversity of nutritional composition of commercially available CHO gels illustrate that not all gels should be considered the same. Sports nutrition practitioners should therefore consider the aforementioned variables to make better-informed decisions regarding which gel product best suits the athlete’s specific fueling and hydration requirements.

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Trent Stellingwerff, James P. Morton and Louise M. Burke

Over the last decade, in support of training periodization, there has been an emergence around the concept of nutritional periodization. Within athletics (track and field), the science and art of periodization is a cornerstone concept with recent commentaries emphasizing the underappreciated complexity associated with predictable performance on demand. Nevertheless, with varying levels of evidence, sport and event specific sequencing of various training units and sessions (long [macrocycle; months], medium [mesocycle; weeks], and short [microcycle; days and within-day duration]) is a routine approach to training periodization. Indeed, implementation of strategic temporal nutrition interventions (macro, meso, and micro) can support and enhance training prescription and adaptation, as well as acute event specific performance. However, a general framework on how, why, and when nutritional periodization could be implemented has not yet been established. It is beyond the scope of this review to highlight every potential nutritional periodization application. Instead, this review will focus on a generalized framework, with specific examples of macro-, meso-, and microperiodization for the macronutrients of carbohydrates, and, by extension, fat. More specifically, the authors establish the evidence and rationale for situations of acute high carbohydrate availability, as well as the evidence for more chronic manipulation of carbohydrates coupled with training. The topic of periodized nutrition has made considerable gains over the last decade but is ripe for further scientific progress and field application.

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James N. Cobley, Chris McGlory, James P. Morton and Graeme L. Close

Production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) during muscle contractions is associated with muscle fatigue and damage in the short term and adaptive responses in the long term. When adaptation is inconsequential acute antioxidant supplementation may be able to attenuate muscle fatigue and damage to enhance performance. This study aimed to determine the effects of acute oral N-acetylcysteine (NAC) supplementation on Yo-Yo Intermittent Recovery Test Level 1 (YIRT-L1) performance after repeated bouts of damaging intermittent exercise. In a pair-matched design, 12 recreationally trained men engaged in 6 d of either NAC (n = 6) or placebo (n = 6) supplementation. After a treatment-loading day, participants completed 3 testing sessions, on alternating days, consisting of a preexercise isokinetic dynamometry (IKD) test, a damaging intermittent-exercise protocol, YIRT-L1, and a postexercise IKD test. Another IKD test was completed on the 2 intervening d. NAC treatment resulted in a significant preservation of YIRT-L1 performance (p ≤ .0005). IKD performance significantly deteriorated over time at all contraction speeds, and this deterioration was not influenced by treatment group. Plasma creatine kinase values increased significantly over time (p = .002) and were significantly greater in the NAC group than in the placebo group (p = .029). NAC induced mild gastrointestinal side effects. NAC supplementation may be a useful strategy to enhance performance during short-term competitive situations when adaption is inconsequential. Titration studies to elucidate a treatment dose that enhances performance without inducing side effects are now required.

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James J. Malone, Rocco Di Michele, Ryland Morgans, Darren Burgess, James P. Morton and Barry Drust

Purpose:

To quantify the seasonal training load completed by professional soccer players of the English Premier League.

Methods:

Thirty players were sampled (using GPS, heart rate, and rating of perceived exertion [RPE]) during the daily training sessions of the 2011–12 preseason and in-season period. Preseason data were analyzed across 6 × 1-wk microcycles. In-season data were analyzed across 6 × 6-wk mesocycle blocks and 3 × 1-wk microcycles at start, midpoint, and end-time points. Data were also analyzed with respect to number of days before a match.

Results:

Typical daily training load (ie, total distance, high-speed distance, percent maximal heart rate [%HRmax], RPE load) did not differ during each week of the preseason phase. However, daily total distance covered was 1304 (95% CI 434–2174) m greater in the 1st mesocycle than in the 6th. %HRmax values were also greater (3.3%, 1.3−5.4%) in the 3rd mesocycle than in the first. Furthermore, training load was lower on the day before match (MD-1) than 2 (MD-2) to 5 (MD-5) d before a match, although no difference was apparent between these latter time points.

Conclusions:

The authors provide the 1st report of seasonal training load in elite soccer players and observed that periodization of training load was typically confined to MD-1 (regardless of mesocycle), whereas no differences were apparent during MD-2 to MD-5. Future studies should evaluate whether this loading and periodization are facilitative of optimal training adaptations and match-day performance.

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Llion A. Roberts, Kris Beattie, Graeme L. Close and James P. Morton

Purpose:

To test the hypothesis that antioxidants can attenuate high-intensity interval training–induced improvements in exercise performance.

Methods:

Two groups of recreationally active males performed a high-intensity interval running protocol, four times per week for 4 wk. Group 1 (n = 8) consumed 1 g of vitamin C daily throughout the training period, whereas Group 2 (n = 7) consumed a visually identical placebo. Pre- and posttraining, subjects were assessed for VO2max, 10 km time trial, running economy at 12 km/h and distance run on the YoYo intermittent recovery tests level 1 and 2 (YoYoIRT1/2). Subjects also performed a 60 min run before and after training at a running velocity of 65% of pretraining VO2max so as to assess training-induced changes in substrate oxidation rates.

Results:

Training improved (P < .0005) VO2max, 10 km time trial, running economy, YoYoIRT1 and YoYoIRT2 in both groups, although there was no difference (P = .31, 0.29, 0.24, 0.76 and 0.59) between groups in the magnitude of training-induced improvements in any of the aforementioned parameters. Similarly, training also decreased (P < .0005) mean carbohydrate and increased mean fat oxidation rates during submaximal exercise in both groups, although no differences (P = .98 and 0.94) existed between training conditions.

Conclusions:

Daily oral consumption of 1 g of vitamin C during a 4 wk high-intensity interval training period does not impair training-induced improvements in the exercise performance of recreationally active males.