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Louise M. Burke, John A. Hawley, Asker Jeukendrup, James P. Morton, Trent Stellingwerff and Ronald J. Maughan

From the breakthrough studies of dietary carbohydrate and exercise capacity in the 1960s through to the more recent studies of cellular signaling and the adaptive response to exercise in muscle, it has become apparent that manipulations of dietary fat and carbohydrate within training phases, or in the immediate preparation for competition, can profoundly alter the availability and utilization of these major fuels and, subsequently, the performance of endurance sport (events >30 min up to ∼24 hr). A variety of terms have emerged to describe new or nuanced versions of such exercise–diet strategies (e.g., train low, train high, low-carbohydrate high-fat diet, periodized carbohydrate diet). However, the nonuniform meanings of these terms have caused confusion and miscommunication, both in the popular press and among the scientific community. Sports scientists will continue to hold different views on optimal protocols of fuel support for training and competition in different endurance events. However, to promote collaboration and shared discussions, a commonly accepted and consistent terminology will help to strengthen hypotheses and experimental/experiential data around various strategies. We propose a series of definitions and explanations as a starting point for a more unified dialogue around acute and chronic manipulations of fat and carbohydrate in the athlete’s diet, noting philosophies of approaches rather than a single/definitive macronutrient prescription. We also summarize some of the key questions that need to be tackled to help produce greater insight into this exciting area of sports nutrition research and practice.

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Ronald J. Maughan, Phillip Watson, Philip A.A. Cordery, Neil P. Walsh, Samuel J. Oliver, Alberto Dolci, Nidia Rodriguez-Sanchez and Stuart D.R. Galloway

This study systematically examined the influence of carbohydrate (sucrose), sodium, and caffeine on the fluid retention potential of beverages under euhydrated conditions, using the beverage hydration index method. Three cohorts, each of 12 young, healthy, active men, ingested 1 L of beverages containing four different concentrations of a single component (sucrose, sodium, or caffeine) in a double-blind, crossover manner. Urine output was collected for the subsequent 4 hr. Cumulative urine output was lower and net fluid balance was higher after 10 and 20% sucrose beverages than 0 and 5% sucrose beverages (p < .05), and after 27 and 52 mmol/L sodium beverages than 7 and 15 mmol/L sodium beverages (p < .05). No difference in urine output or net fluid balance was apparent following ingestion of caffeine at concentrations of 0–400 mg/L (p = .83). Consequently, the calculated beverage hydration index was greater in beverages with higher sucrose or sodium content, but caffeine had no effect. No difference was observed in arginine vasopressin or aldosterone between any trials. These data highlight that the key drivers promoting differences in the fluid retention potential of beverages when euhydrated are energy density, likely through slowed fluid delivery to the circulation (carbohydrate content effect), or electrolyte content through improved fluid retention (sodium content effect). These data demonstrate that beverage carbohydrate and sodium content influence fluid delivery and retention in the 4 hr after ingestion, but caffeine up to 400 mg/L does not. Athletes and others can use this information to guide their daily hydration practices.

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Ronald J. Maughan, Louise M. Burke, Jiri Dvorak, D. Enette Larson-Meyer, Peter Peeling, Stuart M. Phillips, Eric S. Rawson, Neil P. Walsh, Ina Garthe, Hans Geyer, Romain Meeusen, Luc van Loon, Susan M. Shirreffs, Lawrence L. Spriet, Mark Stuart, Alan Vernec, Kevin Currell, Vidya M. Ali, Richard G.M. Budgett, Arne Ljungqvist, Margo Mountjoy, Yannis Pitsiladis, Torbjørn Soligard, Uğur Erdener and Lars Engebretsen

Nutrition usually makes a small but potentially valuable contribution to successful performance in elite athletes, and dietary supplements can make a minor contribution to this nutrition program. Nonetheless, supplement use is widespread at all levels of sport. Products described as supplements target different issues, including the management of micronutrient deficiencies, supply of convenient forms of energy and macronutrients, and provision of direct benefits to performance or indirect benefits such as supporting intense training regimens. The appropriate use of some supplements can offer benefits to the athlete, but others may be harmful to the athlete’s health, performance, and/or livelihood and reputation if an anti-doping rule violation results. A complete nutritional assessment should be undertaken before decisions regarding supplement use are made. Supplements claiming to directly or indirectly enhance performance are typically the largest group of products marketed to athletes, but only a few (including caffeine, creatine, specific buffering agents and nitrate) have good evidence of benefits. However, responses are affected by the scenario of use and may vary widely between individuals because of factors that include genetics, the microbiome, and habitual diet. Supplements intended to enhance performance should be thoroughly trialed in training or simulated competition before implementation in competition. Inadvertent ingestion of substances prohibited under the anti-doping codes that govern elite sport is a known risk of taking some supplements. Protection of the athlete’s health and awareness of the potential for harm must be paramount, and expert professional opinion and assistance is strongly advised before embarking on supplement use.