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From Paper to Podium: Applying laboratory based sports nutrition research into applied practice

Kasper, A (2023) From Paper to Podium: Applying laboratory based sports nutrition research into applied practice. Doctoral thesis, Liverpool John Moores University.

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Sport nutrition is a fast growing discipline within sport science with many sports team now employing a sport nutritionist on either a full or part time basis. Despite this growth in the discipline, and a resultant abundance of sport nutrition literature, often the literature can be inappropriately implemented in practice or even worse ignored. This is particularly dangerous in sport nutrition given the risks to health, performance and the anti-doping risks inherent in the sport nutrition discipline.
To help the sport nutritionist in practice we initially developed a framework termed ‘Paper to Podium (Chapter 1). This framework then provides the basis of the thesis by presenting operational guidance for practitioners to critically evaluate the translational potential of sport nutrition research to practice and provide a time efficient protocol for practitioners to appraise research and inform practice. Once the framework had been developed, this thesis via publication splits into two main themes based upon two major roles of the Sports Nutritionist in applied practice.

The first theme, presented in Chapter 2, is based around current tools for measuring energy intake, energy expenditure and body composition and resulted in 4 publications. The first publication demonstrates that the practical ways in which applied practitioners often estimate energy intake is not necessarily a valid or reliable measure in practice, despite the experience of the practitioner or the simplicity of the meal. This was particularly timely given the growing use of the term ‘Gold Standard’ to describe the ‘Snap-n-Send’ method. The second manuscript focusses upon the estimation of energy expenditure in free living athletes. Here we utilise a joint measure of heart rate and accelerometery to assess the energy requirements of golf, as previous research had failed to do this accurately. We found that prior literature significantly over-estimated the energy expended across a round of golf suggesting a MET value in excess of that reported during jogging. This manuscript highlighted the importance of using the most appropriate measurement tool in as close to real conditions as possible as well as highlighting the dangers associated with poor measurement techniques and is already being used to prescribe more accurate diets to elite professional golfers. The third publication focusses upon the assessment of body composition within an applied model using a weight-making athlete. Here we observed large discrepancies in body composition data dependent on the selected assessment method. Specifically, we found that some methods (e.g. DEXA) were more effected than others (skinfold thickness) during acute and chronic weight loss and rapid regain. This observation led to the fourth publication in this chapter, which involved a review of the available methods for measuring body composition in practice including novel insights from DEXA scans on professional athletes. Publications derived from Theme 1 had a number of practical implications, such as informing CPD sessions of sporting organisations for their practitioners, direct changes to practitioner planning of nutritional interventions, and changes to the body composition collection practices, especially for larger athletes or those where ideal operating conditions could not be controlled.

Having assessed and appraised some of the field field-based tools available to nutrition practitioners, theme 2 provides guidance on supplementation practices and procedures for applied practitioners (Chapter 3) and resulted in a further 5 publications. Advice surrounding supplementation is required by nutritionists daily, however due to the stigma surrounding supplementation, a growing ‘food-only’ approach is being advocated by many organisations, where supplementation is deemed somewhat taboo. The first publication provides a commentary to introduce a ‘food-first but not food-only’ framework for advising supplements to athletes and forms the basis of the resultant papers in this chapter. The second publication investigates a common practice reportedly used by both team sport athletes to avoid bloating as well as well as weight-making athletes aiming to ‘train-low’. This study used the ‘Paper to Podium’ Framework to design an ecological model to test the hypothesis that carbohydrate mouth rinse combined with caffeine had a benefit on decrements to performance that athletes may experience when restricting carbohydrates or fluids. The third publication investigates another practice that many athletes commonly participate in, oral nicotine use (e.g. snus). As such, we felt the need to produce a short review with the aim of educating athletes and support staff as to the current landscape of oral tobacco use in sport. We highlight the lack of data on snus and that the data available suggests detrimental effects to health and performance and therefore should not be advised in practice. Contrary to snus, cannabidiol (CBD) is a supplement that has a number of proposed benefits, however, although observed first- hand by authors, it was important to first review its prevalence within sport. The fourth article presented within this theme assesses the prevalence, awareness of inadvertent doping, and rationale for CBD use in rugby. We found that players supplemented with CBD in a quest for pain relief despite the apparent risk of inadvertent doping. As the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA) prohibits all cannabinoids other than CBD, we thought it pertinent to understand the effects of the whole cannabinoid profile on performance. The final publication of the thesis concentrates on reviewing the existing evidence for the physiological effects of cannabis, THC and CBD on sporting performance. The manuscripts presented in Theme 2 have been used in a number of key note conference addresses educating academics and practitioners, adopted by organisations to form the basis of position stands, and applied directly within the elite sporting environment.

Having set the goal of answering some of the key questions that arise daily within applied practice, I can reflect that this novel approach to conducting a PhD allowed me to focus on answering these key sport-nutrition questions, whilst also guiding other practitioner’s, researcher’s and student’s practice. Taken together, the publications presented within the current thesis have helped shape applied practice, educate practitioners and academics, and have had direct impact within the real-world of elite sport in a number of ways highlighted throughout. There is a need for ‘fast’ research and Researcher-Practitioners based predominantly in applied environments as these publications can often help bridge the gap between science and practice.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Supplementation; Energy Intake; Energy Expenditure; Body Composition
Subjects: T Technology > TX Home economics > TX341 Nutrition. Foods and food supply
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC1200 Sports Medicine
Divisions: Sport & Exercise Sciences
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2023 14:44
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2023 14:45
DOI or ID number: 10.24377/LJMU.t.00019041
Supervisors: Stewart, C, Close, G and Morton, J
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/19041
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