Diet composition can affect systemic pH and acid-base regulation, which may in turn influence exercise performance. An acidic environment in the muscle impairs performance and contributes to fatigue; therefore, current trends in sports nutrition place importance on maximizing the alkalinity of the body with ergogenic aids and dietary strategies. This review examines the evidence on the effects of dietary manipulations on acid load and exercise performance. Ten studies that investigated the effect of high versus low dietary acid loads on athletic performance generally identified that low dietary acid loads increased plasma pH, but did not consistently improve exercise performance at maximal or submaximal exercise intensities. In addition, the few studies conducted have several limitations including lack of female subjects and use of exercise tests exclusive to cycling or treadmill running. Although the research does not strongly support a performance benefit from low dietary acid loads, a more alkaline dietary pattern may be beneficial for overall health, as dietary induced acidosis has been associated with greater risk of cardiovascular disease and bone disease. The review includes dietary recommendations for athletes to reduce dietary acid load while still meeting sports nutrition recommendations.
Catherine Applegate, Mackenzie Mueller and Krystle E. Zuniga
Krystle E. Zuniga, Darcy L. Downey, Ryan McCluskey and Carley Rivers
The majority of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) programs do not have a sports nutritionist, leaving athletes to gather information from resources that vary in reputability. The objective of this study was to identify a need for the development of accessible and reputable resources of nutrition information by assessing the current use of nutrition information resources, dietary habits, and sports nutrition knowledge among Division I collegiate athletes. Seventy-two athletes across eight sports completed questionnaires concerning nutrition resources used, dietary habits, and sports nutrition knowledge. In addition, interest levels in a mobile device application for delivery of nutrition information and tools were assessed. Primary sources for nutrition information included parents and family, athletic trainers (AT), and the internet/media, and athletes felt most comfortable discussing nutrition with parents and family, ATs, and strength and conditioning specialists. Performance on a sports nutrition knowledge questionnaire indicated a general lack of nutrition knowledge, and the high frequency of “unsure” responses suggested a lack of confidence in nutrition knowledge. Athletes conveyed a high likelihood that they would use a mobile device application as a nutrition resource, but were more interested in access to nutrition topics than tools such as a food log. We found that college athletes possess minimal sports nutrition knowledge, obtain nutrition information from nonprofessional resources, and were interested in utilizing a mobile device application as a resource. Further research is needed to explore the feasibility and effectiveness of alternative resources, such as a mobile device application, to deliver nutrition information and improve nutrition knowledge.