Menthol is effective at stimulating thermosensitive neurons that evoke pleasant cooling sensations. Internal application of menthol can be ergogenic for athletes, and hence, addition of menthol to sports nutrition products may be beneficial for athletes. The aim of this study was to develop a menthol energy gel for consumption during exercise and to determine acceptability and preferences for gels with different menthol concentrations. With a randomized, crossover, and double-blind placebo-controlled design, 40 endurance athletes (20 females) ingested an energy gel with a menthol additive at a high (0.5%; HIGH) or low concentration (0.1%; LOW), or a mint-flavored placebo (CON), on separate occasions during outdoor endurance training sessions. The athletes rated the gels for cooling sensation, mint flavor intensity, sweetness, and overall experience and provided feedback. Results are reported as median (interquartile range). Both menthol gels successfully delivered a cooling sensation, with a significantly greater response for HIGH (5.0 [4.0–5.0]) compared with LOW (3.5 [3.0–4.0]; p = .022) and CON (1.0 [1.0–2.0]; p < .0005), and LOW compared with CON (p < .0005). Ratings of mint flavor intensity followed the same trend as cooling sensation, while ratings of overall experience were significantly worse for HIGH (2.0 [1.0–3.0]) compared with LOW (4.0 [2.0–4.0]; p = .001) and CON (4.0 [3.0–4.0]; p < .0005). An energy gel with the addition of menthol at 0.1–0.5% provides a cooling sensation for athletes with a dose–response when ingested during exercise. The 0.1% concentration is recommended to maximize the overall experience of the gel.
Christopher J. Stevens, Megan L.R. Ross, and Roxanne M. Vogel
Naroa Etxebarria, Megan L. Ross, Brad Clark, and Louise M. Burke
Purpose: The authors investigated the potential benefit of ingesting 2 mM of quinine (bitter tastant) on a 3000-m cycling time-trial (TT) performance. Methods: Nine well-trained male cyclists (maximal aerobic power: 386  W) performed a maximal incremental cycling ergometer test, three 3000-m familiarization TTs, and four 3000-m intervention TTs (∼4 min) on consecutive days. The 4 interventions were (1) 25 mL of placebo, (2) a 25-mL sweet solution, and (3) and (4) repeat 25 mL of 2-mM quinine solutions (Bitter1 and Bitter2), 30 s before each trial. Participants self-selected their gears and were only aware of distance covered. Results: Overall mean power output for the full 3000 m was similar for all 4 conditions: placebo, 348 (45) W; sweet, 355 (47) W; Bitter1, 354 (47) W; and Bitter2, 355 (48) W. However, quinine administration in Bitter1 and Bitter2 increased power output during the first kilometer by 15 ± 11 W and 21 ± 10 W (mean ± 90% confidence limits), respectively, over placebo, followed by a decay of 34 ± 32 W during Bitter1 and Bitter2 during the second kilometer. Bitter2 also induced a 11 ± 13-W increase during the first kilometer compared with the sweet condition. Conclusions: Ingesting 2 mM of quinine can improve cycling performance during the first one-third of a 3000-m TT and could be used for sporting events lasting ∼80 s to potentially improve overall performance.
Cathryn L. Pruscino, Megan L.R. Ross, John R. Gregory, Bernard Savage, and Troy R. Flanagan
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), caffeine, and their combination on repeated 200-m freestyle performance. Six elite male freestyle swimmers ingested NaHCO3 (0.3 g/kg; B), caffeine (6.2 ± 0.3 mg/kg; C), a combination of both (B+C), and placebo (P) on 4 separate occasions before completing 2 maximal 200-m freestyle time trials (TT1 and TT2) separated by 30 min. No significant differences (p = .06) were observed for performance in TT1 (B 2:03.01 ± 0:03.68 min, C 2:02.42 ± 0:03.17 min, B+C 2:01.69 ± 0:03.19 min, P 2:03.77 ± 0:03.21 min) or TT2 (B 2:02.62 ± 0:04.16 min, C 2:03.90 ± 0:03.58 min, B+C 2:01.70 ± 0:02.84 min, P 2:04.22 ± 0:03.75 min). The drop-off in performance time from TT1 to TT2, however, was significantly greater when C was ingested than with B (−1.5%, p = .002) or B+C (–1.2%, p = .024). This is likely because of the lower blood pH and slower recovery of blood HCO3 post-TT1 after C ingestion. These findings suggest that the ergogenic benefit of taking C alone for repeated 200-m swimming performance appears limited. When combined with NaHCO3, however, its negative impact on repeated maximal exercise performance is reversed.
Naroa Etxebarria, Brad Clark, Megan L. Ross, Timothy Hui, Roland Goecke, Ben Rattray, and Louise M. Burke
The ingestion of quinine, a bitter tastant, improves short-term (30 s) cycling performance, but it is unclear whether this effect can be integrated into the last effort of a longer race. The purpose of this study was to determine whether midtrial quinine ingestion improves 3,000-m cycling time-trial (TT) performance. Following three familiarization TTs, 12 well-trained male cyclists (mean ± SD: mass = 76.6 ± 9.2 kg, maximal aerobic power = 390 ± 50 W, maximal oxygen uptake = 4.7 ± 0.6 L/min) performed four experimental 3,000-m TTs on consecutive days. This double-blind, crossover design study had four randomized and counterbalanced conditions: (a) Quinine 1 (25-ml solution, 2 mM of quinine); (b) Quinine 2, replicate of Quinine 1; (c) a 25-ml sweet-tasting no-carbohydrate solution (Placebo); and (d) 25 ml of water (Control) consumed at the 1,850-m point of the TT. The participants completed a series of perceptual scales at the start and completion of all TTs, and the power output was monitored continuously throughout all trials. The power output for the last 1,000 m for all four conditions was similar: mean ± SD: Quinine 1 = 360 ± 63 W, Quinine 2 = 367 ± 63 W, Placebo = 364 ± 64 W, and Control = 367 ± 58 W. There were also no differences in the 3,000-m TT power output between conditions. The small perceptual differences between trials at specific 150-m splits were not explained by quinine intake. Ingesting 2 mM of quinine during the last stage of a 3,000-m TT did not improve cycling performance.
Christine E. Dziedzic, Megan L. Ross, Gary J. Slater, and Louise M. Burke
There is interest in including recommendations for the replacement of the sodium lost in sweat in individualized hydration plans for athletes.
Although the regional absorbent-patch method provides a practical approach to measuring sweat sodium losses in field conditions, there is a need to understand the variability of estimates associated with this technique.
Sweat samples were collected from the forearms, chest, scapula, and thigh of 12 cyclists during 2 standardized cycling time trials in the heat and 2 in temperate conditions. Single measure analysis of sodium concentration was conducted immediately by ion-selective electrodes (ISE). A subset of 30 samples was frozen for reanalysis of sodium concentration using ISE, flame photometry (FP), and conductivity (SC).
Sweat samples collected in hot conditions produced higher sweat sodium concentrations than those from the temperate environment (P = .0032). A significant difference (P = .0048) in estimates of sweat sodium concentration was evident when calculated from the forearm average (mean ± 95% CL; 64 ± 12 mmol/L) compared with using a 4-site equation (70 ± 12 mmol/L). There was a high correlation between the values produced using different analytical techniques (r 2 = .95), but mean values were different between treatments (frozen FP, frozen SC > immediate ISE > frozen ISE; P < .0001).
Whole-body sweat sodium concentration estimates differed depending on the number of sites included in the calculation. Environmental testing conditions should be considered in the interpretation of results. The impact of sample freezing and subsequent analytical technique was small but statistically significant. Nevertheless, when undertaken using a standardized protocol, the regional absorbent-patch method appears to be a relatively robust field test.
Christopher John Stevens, Megan L. Ross, Julien D. Périard, Brent S. Vallance, and Louise M. Burke
Purpose: The core temperature responses during exercise and effects of different cooling strategies on endurance performance under heat stress have been investigated in recreational athletes. This investigation aimed to determine peak rectal temperatures during elite racewalking competitions and to detail any cooling strategies used. Methods: Rectal temperature was measured in 14 heat-adapted elite/preelite race walkers (9 females) via a telemetric capsule across 4 outdoor events, including the 2018 Commonwealth Games (race 1: 20 km, 25°C, 74% relative humidity [RH], n = 2) and 3 International Association of Athletics Federations–sanctioned 10-km events (race 2: 19°C, 34% RH, n = 2; race 3: 29°C, 47% RH, n = 14; and race 4: 23°C, 72% RH, n = 11). All athletes completed race 3, and a subsample completed the other events. Their use of cooling strategies and symptoms of heat illness were determined. Results: Peak rectal temperatures >40°C were observed in all events. The highest rectal temperature observed during an event was 41.2°C. These high rectal temperatures were observed without concomitant heat illness, with the exception of cramping in one athlete during race 1. The rectal temperatures tended to reach a steady state in the second half of the 20-km event, but no steady state was observed in the 10-km events. The athletes used cooling strategies in race 1 only, implementing different combinations of cold-water immersion, ice-slurry ingestion, ice-towel application, ice-vest application, and facial water spraying. Conclusions: Elite/preelite race walkers experience rectal temperatures >40°C during competition despite only moderate-warm conditions, and even when precooling and midcooling strategies are applied.
Megan L. Ross, Brian Stephens, Chris R. Abbiss, David T. Martin, Paul B. Laursen, and Louise M. Burke
To observe voluntary fluid and carbohydrate intakes and thermoregulatory characteristics of road cyclists during 2 multiday, multiple-stage races in temperate conditions.
Ten internationally competitive male cyclists competed in 2 stage races (2009 Tour of Gippsland, T1, n = 5; 2010 Tour of Geelong, T2, n = 5) in temperate conditions (13.2–15.8°C; 54–80% relative humidity). Body mass (BM) was recorded immediately before and after each stage. Peak gastrointestinal temperature (TGI peak) was recorded throughout each stage. Cyclists recalled the types and volumes of fluid and food consumed throughout each stage.
Although fluid intake varied according to the race format, there were strong correlations between fluid intake and distance across all formats of racing, in both tours (r = .82, r = .92). Within a stage, the relationship between finishing time and fluid intake was trivial. Mean BM change over a stage was 1.3%, with losses >2% BM occurring on 5 out of 43 measured occasions and the fastest competitors incurring lower BM changes. Most subjects consumed carbohydrate at rates that met the new guidelines (30–60 g/h for 2–3 h, ~90 g/h for >3 h), based on event duration. There were consistent observations of TGI peak >39°C during stages of T1 (67%) and T2 (73%) despite temperate environmental conditions.
This study captured novel effects of highintensity stage racing in temperate environmental conditions. In these conditions, cyclists were generally able to find opportunities to consume fluid and carbohydrate to meet current guidelines. We consistently observed high TGI peak, which merits further investigation.
Vandre C. Figueiredo, Michelle M. Farnfield, Megan L.R. Ross, Petra Gran, Shona L. Halson, Jonathan M. Peake, David Cameron-Smith, and James F. Markworth
Purpose: To determine the acute effects of carbohydrate (CHO) ingestion following a bout of maximal eccentric resistance exercise on key anabolic kinases of mammalian target of rapamycin and extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathways. The authors’ hypothesis was that the activation of anabolic signaling pathways known to be upregulated by resistance exercise would be further stimulated by the physiological hyperinsulinemia resulting from CHO supplementation. Methods: Ten resistance-trained men were randomized in a crossover, double-blind, placebo (PLA)-controlled manner to ingest either a noncaloric PLA or 3 g/kg of CHO beverage throughout recovery from resistance exercise. Muscle biopsies were collected at rest, immediately after a single bout of intense lower body resistance exercise, and after 3 hr of recovery. Results: CHO ingestion elevated plasma glucose and insulin concentrations throughout recovery compared with PLA ingestion. The ERK pathway (phosphorylation of ERK1/2 [Thr202/Tyr204], RSK [Ser380], and p70S6K [Thr421/Ser424]) was markedly activated immediately after resistance exercise, without any effect of CHO supplementation. The phosphorylation state of AKT (Thr308) was unchanged postexercise in the PLA trial and increased at 3 hr of recovery above resting with ingestion of CHO compared with PLA. Despite stimulating-marked phosphorylation of AKT, CHO ingestion did not enhance resistance exercise–induced phosphorylation of p70S6K (Thr389) and rpS6 (Ser235/236 and Ser240/244). Conclusion: CHO supplementation after resistance exercise and hyperinsulinemia does not influence the ERK pathway nor the mTORC1 target p70S6K and its downstream proteins, despite the increased AKT phosphorylation.
Eric C. Haakonssen, Megan L. Ross, Louise E. Cato, Alisa Nana, Emma J. Knight, David G. Jenkins, David T. Martin, and Louise M. Burke
Some athletes avoid dairy in the meal consumed before exercise due to fears about gastrointestinal discomfort. Regular exclusion of dairy foods may unnecessarily reduce intake of high quality proteins and calcium with possible implications for body composition and bone health. This study compared the effects of meals that included (Dairy) or excluded (Control) dairy foods on gastric comfort and subsequent cycling performance. Well-trained female cyclists (n = 32; mean ± SD; 24.3 ± 4.1 y; VO2peak 57.1 ± 4.9 ml/kg/min) completed two trials (randomized cross-over design) in which they consumed a meal (2 g/kg carbohydrate and 54 kJ/kg) 2 hr before a 90-min cycle session (80 min at 60% maximal aerobic power followed by a 10-min time trial; TT). The dairy meal contained 3 servings of dairy foods providing ~1350 mg calcium. Gut comfort and palatability were measured using questionnaires. Performance was measured as maximum mean power during the TT (MMP10min). There was no statistical or clinical evidence of an effect of meal type on MMP10min with a mean difference (Dairy – Control) of 4 W (95% CI [–2, 9]). There was no evidence of an association between pretrial gut comfort and meal type (p = .15) or between gut comfort delta scores and meal type postmeal (p = .31), preexercise (p = .17) or postexercise (p = .80). There was no statistical or clinical evidence of a difference in palatability between meal types. In summary, substantial amounts of dairy foods can be included in meals consumed before strenuous cycling without impairing either gut comfort or performance.
Christopher J. Stevens, Megan L.R. Ross, Amelia J. Carr, Brent Vallance, Russ Best, Charles Urwin, Julien D. Périard, and Louise Burke
Purpose: Hot-water immersion (HWI) after training in temperate conditions has been shown to induce thermophysiological adaptations and improve endurance performance in the heat; however, the potential additive effects of HWI and training in hot outdoor conditions remain unknown. Therefore, this study aimed to determine the effect of repeated postexercise HWI in athletes training in a hot environment. Methods: A total of 13 (9 female) elite/preelite racewalkers completed a 15-day training program in outdoor heat (mean afternoon high temperature = 34.6°C). Athletes were divided into 2 matched groups that completed either HWI (40°C for 30–40 min) or seated rest in 21°C (CON), following 8 training sessions. Pre–post testing included a 30-minute fixed-intensity walk in heat, laboratory incremental walk to exhaustion, and 10,000-m outdoor time trial. Results: Training frequency and volume were similar between groups (P = .54). Core temperature was significantly higher during immersion in HWI (38.5 [0.3]) than CON (37.8°C [0.2°C]; P < .001). There were no differences between groups in resting or exercise rectal temperature or heart rate, skin temperature, sweat rate, or the speed at lactate threshold 2, maximal O2 uptake, or 10,000-m performance (P > .05). There were significant (P < .05) pre–post differences for both groups in submaximal exercising heart rate (∼11 beats·min−1), sweat rate (0.34–0.55 L·h−1) and thermal comfort (1.2–1.5 arbitrary units), and 10,000-m racewalking performance time (∼3 min). Conclusions: Both groups demonstrated significant improvement in markers of heat adaptation and performance; however, the addition of HWI did not provide further enhancements. Improvements in adaptation appeared to be maximized by the training program in hot conditions.