Dietary Fuels in Athletic Performance

Annu Rev Nutr. 2019 Aug 21;39:45-73. doi: 10.1146/annurev-nutr-082018-124337. Epub 2019 May 28.


Focusing on daily nutrition is important for athletes to perform and adapt optimally to exercise training. The major roles of an athlete's daily diet are to supply the substrates needed to cover the energy demands for exercise, to ensure quick recovery between exercise bouts, to optimize adaptations to exercise training, and to stay healthy. The major energy substrates for exercising skeletal muscles are carbohydrate and fat stores. Optimizing the timing and type of energy intake and the amount of dietary macronutrients is essential to ensure peak training and competition performance, and these strategies play important roles in modulating skeletal muscle adaptations to endurance and resistance training. In this review, recent advances in nutritional strategies designed to optimize exercise-induced adaptations in skeletal muscle are discussed, with an emphasis on mechanistic approaches, by describing the physiological mechanisms that provide the basis for different nutrition regimens.

Keywords: carbohydrate; exercise; fat; nutrition; protein; training.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Performance*
  • Diet*
  • Energy Intake
  • Energy Metabolism / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Nutritional Requirements*