Nutrient Intake by Ultramarathon Runners: Can They Meet Recommendations?

Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2015 Aug;25(4):375-86. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2014-0199. Epub 2015 Mar 26.


Purpose: The objective of this study was to investigate whether ultramarathon runners were able to meet nutrition recommendations during a training period and on a competition day.

Methods: In preparation for a 60 or 120 km ultramarathon covering a varied terrain, male and female ultramarathon runners (n = 68, age 46.5 ± 7.1 y) reported habitual dietary intake during three independent days using a web-based 24-hr recall and questionnaires. The diet was assessed using probability of inadequacy or by qualitative evaluation using reference dietary intakes or sports nutrition recommendations. A small group of 120 km runners (n = 4) was observed continuously during the race. After the race, 60 km runners (n = 41) received a questionnaire to assess dietary intake and gastrointestinal (GI) distress on the race day. Spearman rank correlation coefficients (r) were applied to investigate the association between intake and general GI distress symptoms.

Results: In men and women, habitual mean carbohydrate (CHO) intake was lower than recommended, as was mean protein intake by women. CHO intake during the race was <60 g/h in 75% of the athletes. A large variation of nutrient and fluid intake was seen. GI distress during the race was reported in 82% of the runners; severe GI distress was low. In general, moderate, mostly negative, correlations with nutrient intake were seen for GI distress.

Conclusion: Sports nutrition recommendations for the habitual diet were not achieved. During a competition day, a large variation was found in nutrient intake; this may be related to a high incidence of GI distress.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Deficiency Diseases / epidemiology
  • Deficiency Diseases / etiology
  • Deficiency Diseases / physiopathology
  • Deficiency Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Diet* / adverse effects
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Gastroenteritis / epidemiology
  • Gastroenteritis / etiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Internet
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Nutrition Policy*
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Physical Endurance*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Prevalence
  • Risk
  • Running
  • Sports Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Sports Nutritional Sciences / methods