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Ronald J. Maughan

Creatine phosphate allows high rates of adenosine triphosphate resynthesis to occur in muscle and therefore plays a vital role in the performance of high-intensity exercise. Recent studies have shown that feeding large amounts of creatine (typically 20 g per day for 5 days) increases muscle total creatine (and phosphocreatine) content. The extent of the increase that is normally observed is inversely related to the presupplementation level. Vegetarians, who have a very low dietary creatine intake, generally show the largest increases. Creatine supplementation has been shown to increase performance in situations where the availability of creatine phosphate is important; thus, performance is improved in very high-intensity exercise and especially where repeated sprints are performed with short recovery periods. Creatine supplementation is widely practiced by athletes in many sports and does not contravene current doping regulations. There are no reports of harmful side effects at the recommended dosage.

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Ronald J. Maughan

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Ronald J. Maughan

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Ina Garthe and Ronald J. Maughan

In elite sport, where opponents are evenly matched, small factors can determine the outcome of sporting contests. Not all athletes know the value of making wise nutrition choices, but anything that might give a competitive edge, including dietary supplements, can seem attractive. Between 40% and 100% of athletes typically use supplements, depending on the type of sport, level of competition, and the definition of supplements. However, unless the athlete has a nutrient deficiency, supplementation may not improve performance and may have a detrimental effect on both performance and health. Dietary supplements are classified as a subcategory of food, so manufacturers are not required to provide evidence of product safety and efficacy, nor obtain approval from regulatory bodies before marketing supplements. This creates the potential for health risks, and serious adverse effects have been reported from the use of some dietary supplements. Athletes who compete in sports under an anti-doping code must also realize that supplement use exposes them to a risk of ingesting banned substances or precursors of prohibited substances. Government systems of regulations do not include specific laboratory testing for banned substances according to the WADA list, so a separate regulatory framework to evaluate supplements for their risk of provoking a failed doping test is needed. In the high-performance culture typical of elite sport, athletes may use supplements regardless of possible risks. A discussion around medical, physiological, cultural, and ethical questions may be warranted to ensure that the athlete has the information needed to make an informed choice.

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Ronald J. Maughan and Susan M. Shirreffs

Athletes are encouraged to begin exercise well hydrated and to consume sufficient amounts of appropriate fluids during exercise to limit water and salt deficits. Available evidence suggests that many athletes begin exercise already dehydrated to some degree, and although most fail to drink enough to match sweat losses, some drink too much and a few develop hyponatremia. Some simple advice can help athletes assess their hydration status and develop a personalized hydration strategy that takes account of exercise, environment, and individual needs. Preexercise hydration status can be assessed from urine frequency and volume, with additional information from urine color, specific gravity, or osmolality. Change in hydration during exercise can be estimated from the change in body mass that occurs during a bout of exercise. Sweat rate can be estimated if fluid intake and urinary losses are also measured. Sweat salt losses can be determined by collection and analysis of sweat samples, but athletes losing large amounts of salt are likely to be aware of the taste of salt in sweat and the development of salt crusts on skin and clothing where sweat has evaporated. An appropriate drinking strategy will take account of preexercise hydration status and of fluid, electrolyte, and substrate needs before, during, and after a period of exercise. Strategies will vary greatly between individuals and will also be influenced by environmental conditions, competition regulations, and other factors.

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Emily M. Haymes and Ronald J. Maughan

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Elizabeth M. Broad, Ronald J. Maughan and Stuart D.R. Galloway

The effects of 15 d of supplementation with L-carnitine L-tartrate (LC) on metabolic responses to gradedintensity exercise under conditions of altered substrate availability were examined. Fifteen endurance-trained male athletes undertook exercise trials after a 2-d high-carbohydrate diet (60% CHO, 25% fat) at baseline (D0), on Day 14 (D14), and after a single day of high fat intake (15% CHO, 70% fat) on Day 15 (D15) in a double-blind, placebo-controlled, pair-matched design. Treatment consisted of 3 g LC (2 g L-carnitine/d; n = 8) or placebo (P, n = 7) for 15 d. Exercise trials consisted of 80 min of continuous cycling comprising 20-min periods at each of 20%, 40%, 60%, and 80% VO2peak. There was no significant difference between whole-body rates of CHO and fat oxidation at any workload between D0 and D14 trials for either the P or LC group. Both groups displayed increased fat and reduced carbohydrate oxidation between the D14 and D15 trials (p < .05). During the D15 trial, heart rate (p < .05 for 20%, 40%, and 60% workloads) and blood glucose concentration (p < .05 for 40% and 60% workloads) were lower during exercise in the LC group than in P. These responses suggest that LC may induce subtle changes in substrate handling in metabolically active tissues when fattyacid availability is increased, but it does not affect whole-body substrate utilization during short-duration exercise at the intensities studied.

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Ronald J. Maughan, Susan M. Shirreffs and Alan Vernec

The use of dietary supplements is widespread among athletes in all sports and at all levels of competition, as it is in the general population. For the athlete training at the limits of what is sustainable, or for those seeking a shortcut to achieving their aims, supplements offer the prospect of bridging the gap between success and failure. Surveys show, however, that this is often not an informed choice and that the knowledge level among consumers is often low and that they are often influenced in their decisions by individuals with an equally inadequate understanding of the issues at stake. Supplement use may do more harm than good, unless it is based on a sound analysis of the evidence. Where a deficiency of an essential nutrient has been established by appropriate investigations, supplementation can provide a rapid and effective correction of the problem. Supplements can also provide a convenient and time-efficient solution to achieving the necessary intake of key nutrients such as protein and carbohydrate. Athletes contemplating the use of supplements should consider the potential for both positive and negative outcomes. Some ergogenic supplements may be of benefit to some athletes in some specific contexts, but many are less effective than is claimed. Some may be harmful to health of performance and some may contain agents prohibited by anti-doping regulations. Athletes should make informed choices that maximize the benefits while minimizing the risks.

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Elizabeth M. Broad, Ronald J. Maughan and Stuart D.R Galloway

Twenty nonvegetarian active males were pair-matched and randomly assigned to receive 2 g of L-carnitine L-tartrate (LC) or placebo per day for 2 wk. Participants exercised for 90 min at 70% VO2max after 2 days of a prescribed diet (M ±SD: 13.6 ± 1.6 MJ, 57% carbohydrate, 15% protein, 26% fat, 2% alcohol) before and after supplementation. Results indicated no change in carbohydrate oxidation, nitrogen excretion, branched-chain amino acid oxidation, or plasma urea during exercise between the beginning and end of supplementation in either group. After 2 wk of LC supplementation the plasma ammonia response to exercise tended to be suppressed (0 vs. 2 wk at 60 min exercise, 97 ± 26 vs. 80 ± 9, and 90 min exercise, 116 ± 47 vs. 87 ± 25 μmol/L), with no change in the placebo group. The data indicate that 2 wk of LC supplementation does not affect fat, carbohydrate, and protein contribution to metabolism during prolonged moderate-intensity cycling exercise. The tendency toward suppressed ammonia accumulation, however, indicates that oral LC supplementation might have the potential to reduce the metabolic stress of exercise or alter ammonia production or removal, which warrants further investigation.