Athletes use a variety of nutritional ergogenic aids to enhance performance. Most nutritional aids can be categorized as a potential energy source, an anabolic enhancer, a cellular component, or a recovery aid. Studies have consistently shown that carbohydrates consumed immediately before or after exercise enhance performance by increasing glycogen stores and delaying fatigue. Protein and amino acid supplementation may serve an anabolic role by optimizing body composition crucial in strength-related sports. Dietary antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E and carotenes, may prevent oxidative stress that occurs with intense exercise. Performance during high-intensity exercise, such as sprinting, may be improved with short-term creatine loading, and high-effort exercise lasting 1-7 min may be improved through bicarbonate loading immediately prior to activity. Caffeine dosing before exercise delays fatigue and may enhance performance of high-intensity exercise.
Elizabeth A. Applegate
The nutritional considerations of the ultraendurance athlete center around proper caloric and nutrient intake during training as well as adequate energy and fluid replacement during competition to maintain optimal performance. Energy needs of ultraendurance athletes during training vary widely, depending upon duration, intensity, and type of exercise training. These athletes may train several hours daily, thus risking inadequate caloric intake that can lead to chronic fatigue, weight loss, and impaired physical performance. It is not known whether protein needs are increased in ultraendurance athletes as a result of extended exercise training. Additionally, micronutrient needs may be altered for these athletes while dietary intake is generally over the RDA because of high caloric intake. Prior to competition, ultraendurance athletes should consider glycogen supercompensation and a prerace meal eaten 4 hrs before as a means of improving performance. Carbohydrate feedings during prolonged exercise can significantly affect performance. During events lasting over several hours, sodium sweat losses and/or the consumption of sodium-free fluids may precipitate hyponatremia.
Caitlin Campbell, Diana Prince, Marlia Braun, Elizabeth Applegate and Gretchen A. Casazza
Numerous studies have shown that ingesting carbohydrate in the form of a drink can improve exercise performance by maintaining blood glucose levels and sparing endogenous glycogen stores. The effectiveness of carbohydrate gels or jellybeans in improving endurance performance has not been examined. On 4 separate days and 1–2 hr after a standardized meal, 16 male (8; 35.8 ± 2.5 yr) and female (8; 32.4 ± 2.4 yr) athletes cycled at 75% VO2peak for 80 min followed by a 10-km time trial. Participants consumed isocaloric (0.6 g of carbohydrate per kg per hour) amounts of randomly assigned sports beans, sports drink, gel, or water only, before, during, and after exercise. Blood glucose concentrations were similar at rest between treatments and decreased significantly during exercise with the water trial only. Blood glucose concentrations for all carbohydrate supplements were significantly, p < .05, higher than water during the 80-min exercise bout and during the time trial (5.7 ± 0.2 mmol/L for sports beans, 5.6 ± 0.2 mmol/L for sports drink, 5.7 ± 0.3 mmol/L for gel, and 4.6 ± 0.3 mmol/L for water). There were no significant differences in blood glucose between carbohydrate treatments. The 10-km time trials using all 3 carbohydrate treatments were significantly faster (17.2 ± 0.6 min for sports beans, 17.3 ± 0.6 min for sports drink, and 17.3 ± 0.6 min for gel) than water (17.8 ± 0.7 min). All carbohydrate-supplement types were equally effective in maintaining blood glucose levels during exercise and improving exercise performance compared with water only.
Rebecca A. Skillen, Massimo Testa, Elizabeth A. Applegate, Eric A. Heiden, Andrea J. Fascetti and Gretchen A. Casazza
This study examined the effect of amino acids in a carbohydrate beverage on cycling performance. Twelve male athletes (28.5 pp2.1 yr) cycled at 75% VO2peak for 90 min followed by a ride to exhaustion at 85% VO2peak, before (T1) and on 2 consecutive days (T2 and T3) after 2 weeks of supplementation with 3.6% carbohydrate plus 1% amino acids (AA) or 4.6% carbohydrate-only (CHO) isocaloric beverages. Muscle damage was assessed by plasma creatine kinase (CK), and muscle fatigue by changes in vertical jump pre- to postexercise. Muscle soreness, overall fatigue, and changes in mood state were assessed using questionnaires. Plasma CK was lower for AA in T3 (214.0 ss13.5 vs. 485.9 11191.4 U/L immediately post, 213.9 ÷ 13.1 vs. 492.0 ÷ 199.4 U/L 5 hr post, and 194.9 ÷ 17.9 vs. 405.9 ÷ 166.6 U/L 24 hr postexercise in AA and CHO, respectively). Time to exhaustion decreased from T2 to T3 only in CHO (10.9 ÷ 2.5 to 12.6 ÷ 3.2 vs. 13.8 ÷ 2.8 to 7.8 ÷ 1.5 min in AA and CHO, respectively). Vertical-jump change from pre- to postexercise was greater in T3 for the CHO treatment. Total fatigue score and mood disturbance decreased significantly only with AA in T3. The addition of AA to a carbohydrate beverage after consecutive-day exercise bouts reduced muscle damage as indicated by CK levels, decreased fatigue, and maintained exercise performance compared with consuming carbohydrate alone.