Nutrition and Athletic Performance

Nancy R. Rodriguez, PhD, RD, CSSD, FACSM; Nancy M. DiMarco, PhD, RD, CSSD, FACSM; Susie Langley, MS, RD, CSSD

Disclosures

March 01, 2010

In This Article

Abstract and Position Statement

Abstract

It is the position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine that physical activity, athletic performance, and recovery from exercise are enhanced by optimal nutrition. These organizations recommend appropriate selection of foods and fluids, timing of intake, and supplement choices for optimal health and exercise performance. This updated position paper couples a rigorous, systematic, evidence-based analysis of nutrition and performance-specific literature with current scientific data related to energy needs, assessment of body composition, strategies for weight change, nutrient and fluid needs, special nutrient needs during training and competition, the use of supplements and ergogenic aids, nutrition recommendations for vegetarian athletes, and the roles and responsibilities of the sports dietitian. Energy and macronutrient needs, especially carbohydrate and protein, must be met during times of high physical activity to maintain body weight, replenish glycogen stores, and provide adequate protein to build and repair tissue. Fat intake should be sufficient to provide the essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins and to contribute energy for weight maintenance. Although exercise performance can be affected by body weight and composition, these physical measures should not be a criterion for sports performance and daily weigh-ins are discouraged. Adequate food and fluid should be consumed before, during, and after exercise to help maintain blood glucose concentration during exercise, maximize exercise performance, and improve recovery time. Athletes should be well hydrated before exercise and drink enough fluid during and after exercise to balance fluid losses. Sports beverages containing carbohydrates and electrolytes may be consumed before, during, and after exercise to help maintain blood glucose concentration, provide fuel for muscles, and decrease risk of dehydration and hyponatremia. Vitamin and mineral supplements are not needed if adequate energy to maintain body weight is consumed from a variety of foods. However, athletes who restrict energy intake, use severe weight-loss practices, eliminate one or more food groups from their diet, or consume unbalanced diets with low micronutrient density may require supplements. Because regulations specific to nutritional ergogenic aids are poorly enforced, they should be used with caution and only after careful product evaluation for safety, efficacy, potency, and legality. A qualified sports dietitian and, in particular, the Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics in the United States, should provide individualized nutrition direction and advice after a comprehensive nutrition assessment.

Position Statement

It is the position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine that physical activity, athletic performance, and recovery from exercise are enhanced by optimal nutrition. These organizations recommend appropriate selection of food and fluids, timing of intake, and supplement choices for optimal health and exercise performance.

This ADA position paper uses ADA's Evidence Analysis Process and information from the ADA Evidence Analysis Library (EAL). Similar information is also available from DC's Practice-based Evidence in Nutrition (PEN). The use of an evidence-based approach provides important added benefits to earlier review methods. The major advantage of the approach is the more rigorous standardization of review criteria, which minimizes the likelihood of reviewer bias and increases the ease with which disparate articles may be compared. For a detailed description of the methods used in the evidence analysis process, access the ADA's Evidence Analysis Process at http://adaeal.com/eaprocess/.

Conclusion Statements are assigned a grade by an expert work group based on the systematic analysis and evaluation of the supporting research evidence: grade I = good, grade II = fair, grade III = limited, grade IV = expert opinion only, and grade V = a grade is not assignable because there is no evidence to support or refute the conclusion.

Evidence-based information for this and other topics can be found at www.adaevidencelibrary.com and www.dieteticsatwork.com/pen and subscriptions for non-ADA members are purchasable at http://www.adaevidencelibrary.com/store.cfm. Subscriptions for DC and non-DC members are available for PEN at http://www.dieteticsatwork.com/pen_order.asp

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