Nutrition and Athletic Performance

Having treated a variety of athletes from the elite level to the weekend warrior, the same question is often asked, “What should I eat to be the best I can be?”

This question was answered back in 2000 and then updated in 2009 with a position statement by the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine. There statement was as follows, “…physical activity, athletic performance, and recovery from exercise are enhanced by optimal nutrition.”

In this detailed paper, they outline the types of food an athlete should consume, and when they should consume them in relation to the timing of an athletic event.

They also provide recommendations about supplementation for the athlete. Here is a brief overview of the article, but we recommend that you view the online reference for the complete details.

  • The athlete should consume enough food to maintain body weight, energy levels, and for peak performance.
  • Adequate levels of carbohydrates should be consumed to maintain proper energy levels. It is generally recommended to eat 6-10 grams of carbohydrate per each kilogram of body weight. Therefore, a 100 kilogram person should be consuming 600 – 100 grams of carbohydrate per day.
  • Endurance athletes should consume 1.2 – 1.4 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, and resistance and strength trained athletes should consume 1.6 – 1.7 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight.
  • Fats should comprise approximately 20-25% of an athlete’s diet. Fats are important sources of energy and nutrition.
  • Proper fluid intake is important. Approximately 2 hours before competition, an athlete should drink 14 to 22 oz of fluid, during exercise an average of 24 oz of fluid should be consumed per hour of exercise, and after exercise the athlete should drink 24 oz of fluid for each pound of body weight lost during competition or practice.
  • No vitamin or mineral supplements should be required if an athlete is eating a variety of foods and obtaining the recommended carbohydrate, protein and fat nutrition.

Until next time.

Dr. Sterling L. Carter, PT, DPT, MS, CSCS