Newswise — Soy Supplementation by Male Athletes: The Competitive Edge?

Supplementation with soy products has received negative attention in males due to soy’s structural and biological similarities to estrogens. However, soy components may actually interact with estrogen receptors to modify cardiovascular adjustments (in particular, increased blood flow) during endurance exercise. Researchers asked 25 male cyclists and triathletes to perform two 20-kilometer cycling time trials as fast as possible. Fermented soy extract consisting of 30 grams powdered supplement in 16 fluid ounces of water was ingested before one time trial while the other was preceded by a placebo containing the same quantities of organic cocoa powder and water. Soy supplementation was associated with a faster time to completion achieved at a lower heart rate with greater power and speed, specifically during the last five kilometers of the time trial. Those with a greater preexisting fitness level appeared to reap the largest performance benefit. Overall, one-time ingestion of a fermented soy extract supplement may improve sprint-distance cycling performance and reduce cardiac demand in recreational male cyclists and triathletes. View the abstract.


Sprinting to Health at School: Metabolic Effects of High-Intensity Exercise during Childhood

Although the health benefits of childhood exercise are compelling and often extend into adulthood, daily exercise recommendations are often not met. To investigate the effect of school-based exercise on cardio-metabolic health, researchers at Loughborough University had 19 adolescent boys accumulate very-short duration sprint exercise (10, 30-meter sprints for a bout duration of less than five minutes) during four natural breaks in the school day: before and after school, as well as during recess and lunch. Even after this small amount of high-intensity exercise, insulin concentrations were reduced on the day of exercise and triacyglycerol (fat) concentrations were lowered the next day. These encouraging findings suggest that short, high-effort exercise sessions hold much promise in the fight against low levels of physical activity and associated metabolic disorder during youth. Children are well equipped for high-intensity activity and should be encouraged to engage in challenging exercise as often as possible at school. View the article.


Heart Pumps Enable People with Heart Failure to be More Physically Active

Heart failure is a major cause of death and disability. Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) are small pumps implanted into the left side of the heart in people with heart failure that help circulate blood throughout the body, usually reducing symptoms and often allowing patients to live longer. An important question has been, “Do LVADs help people with heart failure to be more physically active?” In this study, investigators used accelerometers to compare physical activity in people with heart failure who were implanted with an LVAD to age- and condition-matched patients without an LVAD. Overall, patients with LVADs were significantly more active and performed better on several physical measures related to quality of life. Being more physically active is likely to counter the deconditioning effects of heart failure, allowing patients to engage more in physical tasks of everyday life. It is important that patients with LVADs be encouraged to undertake regular physical activity so that they benefit from its myriad of benefits. View the abstract.


Healthier Diets Linked to Performance of Potential Elite Soldiers

Most Soldiers (>50%) that compete for selection to the U.S. Army Special Forces, known as the Green Berets, do not finish the difficult 19-to-20-day assessment and selection course. Since so few soldiers are successfully selected, there is a need to identify factors to help improve performance in the course. Diet is related to physical and cognitive performance. Researchers at the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine asked soldiers to report their usual diet and calculated a measure of diet quality called the Healthy Eating Index (HEI). HEI reflects how closely a diet adheres to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Analyses revealed that soldiers with higher Healthy Eating Index scores were more likely to be selected for the extra training necessary to become a Green Beret. Soldiers with higher fitness test scores, including sit-ups and running, and faster road march times also had healthier diets. Adherence to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, in combination with established dietary strategies known to enhance athletic performance, may be useful to provide nutritional guidance to soldiers and athletes. View the article.