Pre-workout carbohydrate supplementation does not affect measures of self-assessed vitality and affect in college swimmers

Journal Title (Medline/Pubmed accepted abbreviation): J. Sports Sci. Med.
Year: 2011
Volume: 10
Page number: 478-482

Summary of background and research design:

Background: The intense training required for collegiate swimming may affect an athlete’s mood, which may in turn affect performance.  Swimmers also have early morning practices, with many choosing not to eat breakfast before practice.

Hypothesis:In a cross-sectional study, the habit of eating breakfast will be associated with heightened mood, elevated vitality, and lower risk for “burning out”.  In an intervention study, a carbohydrate breakfast, compared to a placebo, will heighten an athlete’s mood and increase feelings of vitality. 

Subjects: In total, 37 men and women swimmers were recruited from an NCAA division II league and completed the study.

Experimental design: 1) cross-sectional, 2) randomized, double-blind, cross-over, placebo-controlled

Treatments: A carbohydrate supplement (10 floz of strawberry gelatin: 45 g sucrose, 5 g protein, 200 kcal total) or a placebo (artificially sweetened strawberry gelatin: 4 g carbohydrate, 2.5 g protein, 25 kcal total).

Protocol :Before the intervention, the participants completed a questionnaire on their normal dietary habits including timing and content of breakfast.   They were also measured for height and weight.  On two days before morning practice, the swimmers consumed one of the 2 treatments.  After the practice, they completed a questionnaire on feelings of vitality.

Summary of research findings:
  • According to questionnaires, 46% of athletes did not regularly consume breakfast, mostly because of lack of time or to avoid nausea.
  • The amount of total calories consumed per day was negatively correlated with reduced sense of accomplishment.(In other words, those who consumed more calories per day had a higher sense of accomplishment.)
  • Compared to the placebo, the carbohydrate supplement before practice did not affect energy, tiredness, tension, or calmness.

Key practice applications:

Eating breakfast before swim practice did not affect mood in collegiate swimmers.


It would have been interesting to see if breakfast improved performance.  Moreover, it would have been interesting if their moods and sense of accomplishment were more congruent with their actual performance at the practice if they had eaten breakfast.  Finally, the gastrointestinal tolerance of the carbohydrate dose in those who normally did not eat breakfast was not evaluated.

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