A number of factors contribute to success in sport, and diet is a key component. An athlete's dietary requirements depend on several aspects, including the sport, the athlete's goals, the environment, and practical issues. The importance of individualized dietary advice has been increasingly recognized, including day-to-day dietary advice and specific advice before, during, and after training and/or competition. Athletes use a range of dietary strategies to improve performance, with maximizing glycogen stores a key strategy for many. Carbohydrate intake during exercise maintains high levels of carbohydrate oxidation, prevents hypoglycemia, and has a positive effect on the central nervous system. Recent research has focused on athletes training with low carbohydrate availability to enhance metabolic adaptations, but whether this leads to an improvement in performance is unclear. The benefits of protein intake throughout the day following exercise are now well recognized. Athletes should aim to maintain adequate levels of hydration, and they should minimize fluid losses during exercise to no more than 2% of their body weight. Supplement use is widespread in athletes, with recent interest in the beneficial effects of nitrate, beta-alanine, and vitamin D on performance. However, an unregulated supplement industry and inadvertent contamination of supplements with banned substances increases the risk of a positive doping result. Although the availability of nutrition information for athletes varies, athletes will benefit from the advice of a registered dietician or nutritionist.
Keywords: athlete; diet; hydration; nutrition; sport; supplements.