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Open access

Oliver C. Witard, Ina Garthe and Stuart M. Phillips

Track and field athletes engage in vigorous training that places stress on physiological systems requiring nutritional support for optimal recovery. Of paramount importance when optimizing recovery nutrition are rehydration and refueling which are covered in other papers in this volume. Here, we highlight the benefits for dietary protein intake over and above requirements set out in various countries at ∼0.8–1.0 g·kg body mass (BM)−1·day−1 for training adaptation, manipulating body composition, and optimizing performance in track and field athletes. To facilitate the remodeling of protein-containing structures, which are turning over rapidly due to their training volumes, track and field athletes with the goal of weight maintenance or weight gain should aim for protein intakes of ∼1.6 g·kg BM−1·day−1. Protein intakes at this level would not necessarily require an overemphasis on protein-containing foods and, beyond convenience, does not suggest a need to use protein or amino acid-based supplements. This review also highlights that optimal protein intakes may exceed 1.6 g·kg BM−1·day−1 for athletes who are restricting energy intake and attempting to minimize loss of lean BM. We discuss the underpinning rationale for weight loss in track and field athletes, explaining changes in metabolic pathways that occur in response to energy restriction when manipulating protein intake and training. Finally, this review offers practical advice on protein intakes that warrant consideration in allowing an optimal adaptive response for track and field athletes seeking to train effectively and to lose fat mass while energy restricted with minimal (or no) loss of lean BM.

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Armand E.O. Bettonviel, Naomi Y.J. Brinkmans, Kris Russcher, Floris C. Wardenaar and Oliver C. Witard

The nutritional status of elite soccer players across match, postmatch, training and rest days has not been defined. Recent evidence suggests the pattern of dietary protein intake impacts the daytime turnover of muscle proteins and, as such, influences muscle recovery. We assessed the nutritional status and daytime pattern of protein intake in senior professional and elite youth soccer players and compared findings against published recommendations. Fourteen senior professional (SP) and 15 youth elite (YP) soccer players from the Dutch premier division completed nutritional assessments using a 24-hr web-based recall method. Recall days consisted of a match, postmatch, rest, and training day. Daily energy intake over the 4-day period was similar between SP (2988 ± 583 kcal/day) and YP (2938 ± 465 kcal/day; p = .800). Carbohydrate intake over the combined 4-day period was lower in SP (4.7 ± 0.7 g·kg-1 BM·day-1) vs. YP (6.0 ± 1.5 g·kg-1 BM·day-1, p = .006) and SP failed to meet recommended carbohydrate intakes on match and training days. Conversely, recommended protein intakes were met for SP (1.9 ± 0.3 g·kg-1 BM·day-1) and YP (1.7 ± 0.4 g·kg-1 BM·day-1), with no differences between groups (p = .286). Accordingly, both groups met or exceeded recommended daily protein intakes on individual match, postmatch, rest and training days. A similar “balanced” daytime pattern of protein intake was observed in SP and YP. To conclude, SP increased protein intake on match and training days to a greater extent than YP, however at the expense of carbohydrate intake. The daytime distribution of protein intake for YP and SP aligned with current recommendations of a balanced protein meal pattern.

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Paola Rodriguez-Giustiniani, Ian Rollo, Oliver C. Witard and Stuart D. R. Galloway

This study investigated the influence of ingesting a 12% carbohydrate plus electrolyte (CHO-E) solution providing 60 g of carbohydrate before each half of a 90-min soccer match simulation (SMS) protocol on skill performance, sprint speed, and high-intensity running capacity. Eighteen elite academy (age: 18 ± 2 years) soccer players ingested two 250-ml doses (pre-exercise and at halftime) of a 12% CHO-E solution or electrolyte placebo administered in a double-blind randomized cross-over design. During an indoor (artificial grass pitch) SMS, dribbling, passing, and sprint performance were assessed, and blood was drawn for glucose and lactate analysis. High-intensity running capacity was assessed following the SMS. Dribbling speed/accuracy and sprint speed remained unchanged throughout the SMS. Conversely, passing accuracy for both dominant (mean percentage difference [95% confidence interval, CI]: 9 [3, 15]) and nondominant (mean percentage difference [95% CI]: 13 [6, 20]) feet was better maintained during the SMS on CHO-E (p < .05), with passing speed better maintained in the nondominant foot (mean percentage difference [95% CI]: 5.3 [0.7, 9.9], p = .032). High-intensity running capacity was greater in CHO-E versus placebo (mean percentage difference [95% CI]: 13 [6, 20], p = .010). Capillary blood glucose concentration was higher in CHO-E than placebo at halftime (CHO-E: 5.8 ± 0.5 mM vs. placebo: 4.1 ± 0.4 mM, p = .001) and following the high-intensity running capacity test (CHO-E: 4.9 ± 0.4 mM vs. placebo: 4.3 ± 0.4 mM, p = .001). Ingesting a 12% CHO-E solution before each half of a match can aid in the maintenance of soccer-specific skill performance, particularly on the nondominant foot, and improves subsequent high-intensity running capacity.

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Leyre Gravina, Frankie F. Brown, Lee Alexander, James Dick, Gordon Bell, Oliver C. Witard and Stuart D.R. Galloway

Omega-3 fatty acid (n-3 FA) supplementation could promote adaptation to soccer-specific training. We examined the impact of a 4-week period of n-3 FA supplementation during training on adaptations in 1RM knee extensor strength, 20-m sprint speed, vertical jump power, and anaerobic endurance capacity (Yo-Yo test) in competitive soccer players. Twenty six soccer players were randomly assigned to one of two groups: n-3 FA supplementation (n-3 FA; n = 13) or placebo (n = 13). Both groups performed two experimental trial days. Assessments of physical function and respiratory function were conducted pre (PRE) and post (POST) supplementation. Training session intensity, competitive games and nutritional intake were monitored during the 4-week period. No differences were observed in respiratory measurements (FEV1, FVC) between groups. No main effect of treatment was observed for 1RM knee extensor strength, explosive leg power, or 20 m sprint performance, but strength improved as a result of the training period in both groups (p < .05). Yo-Yo test distance improved with training in the n-3 FA group only (p < .01). The mean difference (95% CI) in Yo-Yo test distance completed from PRE to POST was 203 (66–340) m for n-3 FA, and 62 (-94–217) m for placebo, with a moderate effect size (Cohen’s d of 0.52). We conclude that 4 weeks of n-3 FA supplementation does not improve strength, power or speed assessments in competitive soccer players. However, the increase in anaerobic endurance capacity evident only in the n-3 FA treatment group suggests an interaction that requires further study.

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Jordan D. Philpott, Chris Donnelly, Ian H. Walshe, Elizabeth E. MacKinley, James Dick, Stuart D.R. Galloway, Kevin D. Tipton and Oliver C. Witard

Soccer players often experience eccentric exercise-induced muscle damage given the physical demands of soccer match-play. Since long chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3PUFA) enhance muscle sensitivity to protein supplementation, dietary supplementation with a combination of fish oil–derived n-3PUFA, protein, and carbohydrate may promote exercise recovery. This study examined the influence of adding n-3PUFA to a whey protein, leucine, and carbohydrate containing beverage over a six-week supplementation period on physiological markers of recovery measured over three days following eccentric exercise. Competitive soccer players were assigned to one of three conditions (2 × 200 mL): a fish oil supplement beverage (FO; n = 10) that contained n-3PUFA (1100 mg DHA/EPA—approximately 550 mg DHA, 550 mg EPA), whey protein (15 g), leucine (1.8 g), and carbohydrate (20 g); a protein supplement beverage (PRO; n = 10) that contained whey protein (15 g), leucine (1.8 g), and carbohydrate (20 g); and a carbohydrate supplement beverage (CHO; n = 10) that contained carbohydrate (24 g). Eccentric exercise consisted of unilateral knee extension/flexion contractions on both legs separately. Maximal force production was impaired by 22% during the 72-hour recovery period following eccentric exercise (p < 0.05). Muscle soreness, expressed as area under the curve (AUC) during 72-hour recovery, was less in FO (1948 ± 1091 mm × 72 h) than PRO (4640 ± 2654 mm × 72 h, p < 0.05) and CHO (4495 ± 1853 mm × 72 h, p = 0.10). Blood concentrations of creatine kinase, expressed as AUC, were ~60% lower in FO compared to CHO (p < 0.05) and tended to be lower (~39%, p = 0.07) than PRO. No differences in muscle function, soccer performance, or blood c-reactive protein concentrations were observed between groups. In conclusion, the addition of n-3PUFA to a beverage containing whey protein, leucine, and carbohydrate ameliorates the increase in muscle soreness and blood concentrations of creatine kinase following eccentric exercise in competitive soccer players.

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Maria Francesca Piacentini, Oliver C. Witard, Cajsa Tonoli, Sarah R. Jackman, James E. Turner, Arie K. Kies, Asker E. Jeukendrup, Kevin D. Tipton and Romain Meeusen

Context:

Monitoring mood state is a useful tool for avoiding nonfunctional overreaching. Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is implicated in stress-related mood disorders.

Purpose:

To investigate the impact of intensified training-induced mood disturbance on plasma BDNF concentrations at rest and in response to exercise.

Methods:

Eight cyclists performed 1 wk of normal (NT), 1 wk of intensified (INT), and 1 wk of recovery (REC) training. Fasted blood samples were collected before and after exercise on day 7 of each training week and analyzed for plasma BDNF and cortisol concentrations. A 24-item Profile of Mood State questionnaire was administered on day 7 of each training week, and global mood score (GMS) was calculated.

Results:

Time-trial performance was impaired during INT (P = .01) and REC (P = .02) compared with NT. Basal plasma cortisol (NT = 153 ± 16 ng/mL, INT = 130 ± 11 ng/mL, REC = 150 ± 14 ng/ml) and BDNF (NT = 484 ± 122 pg/mL, INT = 488 ± 122 pg/mL, REC = 383 ± 56 pg/mL) concentrations were similar between training conditions. Likewise, similar exercise-induced increases in cortisol and BDNF concentrations were observed between training conditions. GMS was 32% greater during INT vs NT (P < .001).

Conclusions:

Consistent with a state of functional overreaching (FOR), impairments in performance and mood state with INT were restored after 1 wk of REC. These results support evidence for mood changes before plasma BDNF concentrations as a biochemical marker of FOR and that cortisol is not a useful marker for predicting FOR.

Open access

Louise M. Burke, Linda M. Castell, Douglas J. Casa, Graeme L. Close, Ricardo J. S. Costa, Ben Desbrow, Shona L. Halson, Dana M. Lis, Anna K. Melin, Peter Peeling, Philo U. Saunders, Gary J. Slater, Jennifer Sygo, Oliver C. Witard, Stéphane Bermon and Trent Stellingwerff

The International Association of Athletics Federations recognizes the importance of nutritional practices in optimizing an Athlete’s well-being and performance. Although Athletics encompasses a diverse range of track-and-field events with different performance determinants, there are common goals around nutritional support for adaptation to training, optimal performance for key events, and reducing the risk of injury and illness. Periodized guidelines can be provided for the appropriate type, amount, and timing of intake of food and fluids to promote optimal health and performance across different scenarios of training and competition. Some Athletes are at risk of relative energy deficiency in sport arising from a mismatch between energy intake and exercise energy expenditure. Competition nutrition strategies may involve pre-event, within-event, and between-event eating to address requirements for carbohydrate and fluid replacement. Although a “food first” policy should underpin an Athlete’s nutrition plan, there may be occasions for the judicious use of medical supplements to address nutrient deficiencies or sports foods that help the athlete to meet nutritional goals when it is impractical to eat food. Evidence-based supplements include caffeine, bicarbonate, beta-alanine, nitrate, and creatine; however, their value is specific to the characteristics of the event. Special considerations are needed for travel, challenging environments (e.g., heat and altitude); special populations (e.g., females, young and masters athletes); and restricted dietary choice (e.g., vegetarian). Ideally, each Athlete should develop a personalized, periodized, and practical nutrition plan via collaboration with their coach and accredited sports nutrition experts, to optimize their performance.