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Sports Nutrition Unplugged

by User Not Found | Jan 28, 2014

Written by Felicia D. Stoler, DCN, MS, RD, FACSM
Nutritionist & Exercise Physiologist

When one works in a lab setting doing research and has access to equipment and testing, sports nutrition is really a precise science. However, for most athletes, even those bound for the Olympics, until they are part of the official Olympic team they hopefully use the same principles we have espoused for many years.

The factors that are important for Olympic athletes include fueling and hydration (rest, too). The nutrients recommendations, per the joint position of the ACSM and Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition remain the same: 

  • Protein – 15-20%
    • 1.2 – 1.4 g/kg/bw/day for endurance athletes
    • 1.6 – 1.7 g/kg/bw/day for strength athletes
    • RDA 0.8 - 1.0 g/kg/bw/day
  • Carbohydrate 50-60%
    • 6-10 g/kg/bw/day
  • Fat <30% total kcal/day
    • Less than 10% from saturated fat

Fluid needs are an important aspect of sports performance – for maintaining body temperature, blood pressure, circulation of oxygen, glucose, etc. Replenishment of fluids/water is 16-24 fl oz for each pound of body weight lost during exercise. Electrolyte replenishment is based upon the extent of sweat loss. Some people know they are super salty sweaters because they are sometimes covered in salt after long durations of exercise (or see salt residue on clothing).

For endurance events – maintaining carbohydrate levels is important: 1.5g of carbs/kg body weight during first 30 min and again every 2 hours for 4 to 6 hours. Regardless of the particular sport, protein replenishment is important for recovery, but it should be combined with carbohydrates. The carbohydrate to protein replenishment ratio is 3:1 or 4:1.

When athletes compete internationally, sleep and usual foods may be a challenge. The mantra of all sports nutritionists to athletes: don’t do anything new the day of a race. Practice is a great opportunity to tweak fueling, hydration and replenishing strategies, even though the surge of adrenaline is never the same. We usually suggest that athletes get as much of their nutrient needs from real food versus supplements. There are strict rules with regard to supplementation and potential performance enhancement products – intentionally or unintentionally being ingested. It is a great disgrace to be disqualified or have to return a medal due to testing positive for a banned substance.

What do you think? Join the conversation on our Facebook Page and on Twitter.

Felicia D. Stoler, DCN, MS, RD, FACSM, is a registered dietitian, exercise physiologist and expert consultant in disease prevention, wellness and healthful living. She is the current president of ACSM’s Greater New York Regional Chapter, and she is a member of the American Dietetic Association’s House of Delegates. She maintains a private practice, is a consultant and has been on many national television and radio programs. She is the former host of the popular television series “Honey, We’re Killing the Kids,” which focused on issues of parenting, nutrition and physical activity in families. 

Note: The views expressed in ACSM Olympics Hot Topics are those of the contributors only, and should not be construed as official statements of the American College of Sports Medicine.

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