Chat with us, powered by LiveChat The Essential Role of Nutrition Leadership in Athletic Performance - Essayabode

1 Fueling Success: The Essential Role of Nutrition Leadership in Athletic Performance Antoine Laigle Submitted to The Catherine T. MacArthur School of Leadership Palm Beach Atlantic University Capstone Research Project In fulfillment of the Requirements for the M.S. in Ethics and Organizational Studies April 2024 2 Introduction: Energy levels, recovery times, strength, endurance, and general health are all impacted by nutrition, which is why it is so crucial to sports performance. First, we will examine how a healthy diet gives athletes the energy to compete and train optimally. For any athletic performance, an in-depth understanding of the timing of nutrients is essential. Timing one’s nutritional intake has a significant effect on performance. Preevent nutrition ensures athletes have enough energy for practice or competition, and post-event nutrition promotes muscle solubility, glycogen resupply, and general recovery. To undertake an informed research study, I will primarily discuss my sports, cross country and track, as I am more knowledgeable about them. In my experience with endurance sports, intense training has been shown to momentarily suppress the immune system, which increases an athlete’s susceptibility to disease. Sufficient intake of vitamins and minerals, especially zinc, vitamin C, and vitamin D, is essential for boosting immune system performance and lowering the risk of disease or infection, which helps counteract these negative consequences. This paper will also examine how an enhanced diet may boost mental health. Diet directly affects mood, mental clarity, attention, and physical performance. Athletes should consume a balanced diet that includes essential vitamins, minerals, and recommended nutrients to promote cognitive function, improve concentration, and increased focus throughout training and competition. Nutrition Leadership is more than just nutritional advice; it is a comprehensive strategy for enhancing athletic performance. Using evidence-based methods, nutrition managers or leaders cultivate adapted nutrition strategies that match athletes’ specific physiological needs and objectives. Maximizing an athlete’s highest 3 potential depends on respecting the advice of nutrition leaders, whether it is on increasing strength, endurance, or speeding recovery. Adjusting dietary strategy can differentiate podium performances and wasted chances as athletes chase marginal gains and competitive advantages. In addition, considering the growing recognition of the link between nutrition, healing from injuries, and injury prevention, the knowledge of nutrition leaders is critical to preserving players’ careers and overall health. Nutrition leadership is critical to optimizing athletic performance since it offers competitors a strategy to reach their full potential. This becomes clearer as we delve deeper into the nuances of nutrition leadership, the importance of which extends far beyond dietary guidelines and significantly impacts how athletes succeed. Comprehending Athletic Nutrition All athletes (professional and amateur) need to understand athletic nutrition to maximize performance, improve recovery, and preserve general health. Elizabeth Lea Abbey used 88 Division III football players as a study sample (2022). Every participant completed two questionnaires: one regarding food frequency and the other on nutritional knowledge, which included a quiz and inquiries about their primary sources of nutrition-related information. Additionally, heights and body masses were noted. Out of the 88 individuals, more than half said they regularly consumed meat, dairy, and starches/grains, while less than half said they regularly consumed fruits and vegetables. The most popular supplements were protein powders, which 33% of athletes used regularly. Additionally, the participants’ average score on the nutrition knowledge question was 55.2%. On the quiz, people who had completed a college course on nutrition or health performed noticeably better than those who had not. For dietary advice, participants said they primarily relied on 4 coaches, websites, and athletic trainers (ATs), and they found ATs to be the most reliable source. These athletes can be used as examples in any collegiate sports situation since they have room to grow in their understanding of nutrition. Sports dietitians emphasize the value of nutrition education for athletes and personnel and their assistance in nutritional counsel may optimize team performance. In many college setups, nutritional education is a crucial component that requires improvement. Indeed, a diet that may both reduce and raise the risk of chronic illnesses is practiced by far too many athletes. Furthermore, a complex and varied interaction exists between general health, performance, and nutrition. An adequate diet gives the body the energy to function at its best, whether for daily tasks or competitive sports. Vitamins and minerals are essential for muscular function, energy metabolism, and general health. Athletes’ performance and recuperation may be affected by deficiencies. Athletes frequently have specific dietary deficits, especially for iron and vitamin D. In my experience, many male and female athletes who compete in track and cross-country sports frequently have low iron levels. Running demands tremendous impact strength, generally resulting in more blood cell death. Furthermore, according to Louise et al. (2019), deficiencies in 73% of athletes (average age sample 27) and 22-21% of male athletes (average age sample 37) are related to iron deficiency. Muscle function and endurance work performance may be compromised by other, less prevalent dietary deficits in minerals, including folate, magnesium, or vitamin B12. Subsequently, micronutrient metabolism is crucial in helping the body become more efficient so athletes can maintain high-performance levels. Numerous vitamins and minerals help with physiological processes, which are the foundation of performance. For instance, vitamin D affects muscular function, protein synthesis, and bone maintenance. In addition to supporting immune function 5 and aiding in the body’s defense against infections and illnesses, vitamin D regulates the immune system. This immunity is critical, particularly as the exercise load increases. During essential load training, the human organism is under much strain, and a diet low in micronutrients makes illness more likely. According to Travis Thomas (2016), “Many athletes monitor vitamin D to achieve levels of greater than 50 ng·ml−1 because of the many potential ergogenic effects of vitamin D on sports performance Rev.” Moreover, vitamin D plays a role in protein synthesis, which is necessary for muscle rehabilitation and repair following intense exercise. Increasing vitamin D levels can help athletes recover from training sessions more quickly and improve their aerobic capacity, which is key in all sports, not just cross-country and track. As Louise M. Burke argues, “Unlike fats and proteins (e.g., ketones), which the body uses as energy sources in some conditions, glucose is the only energy substrate in the body that functions solely for providing energy to cells (2016)”. Highintensity activity primarily uses carbohydrates and is essential for refueling the liver and muscles with glycogen. Specifically, endurance athletes need to consume more carbohydrates to satisfy their energy demands for the entirety of the workout. In my experience, eating carbohydrates before and after exercise is necessary to balance any sessions properly. When it comes to endurance sports, hypoglycemia is a more severe threat. Because of this, fats, the other significant macronutrient, remains essential. Fat is the primary fuel needed in endurance sports. To preserve the glycogen stored during endurance exercise, individuals must be able to use fat as fuel. The athlete’s ability to consume fat correctly will rise with lowintensity training. As a result, it will significantly boost overall performance. To sustain their general health and meet their energy demands while training, athletes must 6 consume enough healthy fats in their diet. For example, the healthiest fat products are found in nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil, fatty fish, and other plant-based oils. Protein is the last class of macronutrients. The maintenance, development, and repair of muscles depend on proteins. Additionally, they contribute to the creation of hormones and enzymes. The amount of protein athletes require to promote muscle repair, and adaptation may need to be increased depending on the context. The usual range is 1.2 to 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight per day, depending on the type and intensity of exercise. A well-balanced diet with sufficient macronutrients and micronutrients will support an athlete’s training, performance, and general health. Working with a sports nutritionist or registered dietitian to create individualized nutrition regimens based on their unique requirements and objectives is frequently advantageous for athletes. Another critical component of sports performance is adequate fluid balance. The Role of Nutrition Leadership When nutrition specialists offer advice, knowledge, and oversight to athletes to maximize their dietary habits, athletic performance, and general health, this is called food leadership in sporting environments. This leadership position involves several responsibilities to improve athletic performance and recovery, such as creating customized nutrition programs, teaching players about healthy eating habits, monitoring nutritional intake, and working with other sports medicine team members. Victoria Lambert (2022) states that collegiate and university athletic programs exist in various sizes and types. Sports nutrition models fall into four different categories: part-time, full-time, program and department. Each model is designed to 7 help a program choose which kind of nutrition services is most appropriate for its student-athletes and sports teams. Maximizing the efficacy of dietary interventions in sports nutrition involves developing customized nutrition regimens for each athlete based on their specific needs, goals, dietary preferences, and training program. Nutrition leaders offer continuous assistance, education, and accountability to ensure that athletes follow their diet programs and make wise food choices regularly. However, leadership in nutrition is particularly crucial regarding food disorders in athletes. All levels of competitive athletes have a higher incidence of disordered eating; they are more likely to experience eating disorders than non-athletes and are more likely to participate in unhealthy weight control practices. According to Victoria Lambert (2022), investigators found that 18% to 25% of female athletes and 8% to 22% of male athletes met the full diagnostic criteria for eating disorders versus 9% of female and 0.5% of male age-matched control nonathletes. Hence, nutritional specialists should work with each athlete more individually to ensure they are correctly fueling their bodies. These behaviors are not healthy or ideal for performance, even if the majority of athletes do not fully fit the criteria of eating disorders. Good nutritional leadership in sports environments is essential for maximizing performance, avoiding injuries, assisting with recovery, fostering long-term health, and guaranteeing that athletes have the information and resources they require to adequately feed their bodies for practice and competition. Research shows from Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise Nutrition and Athletic Performance that male and female collegiate athletes who are ignorant of nutrition and misunderstand ideas connected to it consume insufficient quantities of the energy and macronutrients carbohydrate, fat, and protein necessary for good health and athletic performance (2016). 8 Nutrition Strategies for Peak Performance Pre-event nutrition, such as pre-game meals and snacks, is key in providing athletes the energy, minerals, and fluid they need to perform at their best throughout practices and competitions. For athletes, the Daily Hydration Assessment is the most crucial tool that should be utilized. The aim of every athlete is appropriate water and electrolyte levels, which comes from sufficient hydration. According to the International Journal of Exercise Metabolism and Sports Nutrition, A daily loss of body weight (W) greater than 0.5 to 1.0 kg (1 to 2 lb), a small volume of dark-colored urine (U; apple juice or darker), and the noticeable sensation of thirst (T) are all symptoms of dehydration. Because it can weaken the immune system, dehydration is extremely harmful to the body and increases the risk of disease and infection in athletes. I have witnessed a teammate who had diabetes struggle greatly with dehydration. I have seen dehydration during exercise occur without warning, especially while running in South Florida, the country’s warmest and most humid region. Before experiencing the initial signs of dehydration, which may be very harmful to the body, we are not even aware that we suffer from it. In this case, there is a higher chance of adverse effects and injury. Douglas J. Casa states that when it comes to the fundamentals of sweat science: “In weather that is temperate or warmer, sweating accounts for more than 50% of body heat removal and close to 100% in scorching environments” (2023). I have experienced heat removal through sweat, particularly during the fall season when the heat was unbearable. For this reason, nutrition before, during, and after practice/competition is critical in this scenario. In my case, I have only had one 9 meeting with a dietitian along with my entire team to discuss the consequences of insufficient nourishment and water to support our training load more effectively. However, these meetings were relatively infrequent. We should be allowed to discuss this with a nutritionist as often as possible. While several techniques exist to maximize hydration, not all student-athletes have this knowledge. The primary takeaway from my time in Florida is the need to consume plenty of electrolytes. Previously, I underestimated how much sweat I was releasing during training. Providing athletes with the proper electrolyte balance to promote hydration, development of muscles, and general performance is a crucial part of efficient electrolyte regulation. I believe that the best times to take electrolyte supplements are when you are engaged in intense physical activity and your body requires more electrolytes due to environmental factors like heat and humidity. Even when athletes are not training in a scorching environment, they might still benefit from learning how to fuel their bodies properly to perform at their peak performance. When we engage in physical activity for over half an hour, we still lose a significant amount of sodium chloride. For this reason, having a more extensive dietetics staff in every college athletic program is crucial because we are not fully aware of how to effectively manage our bodies through training. Professionals should be available to consult with all athletes, at least in the D1 and D2 divisions. It is helpful to consult with sports nutritionists, dietitians, or other healthcare specialists to receive individualized advice and suggestions based on specific requirements, objectives, and medical considerations. In fueling techniques for competition or training, there is a distinction between the intensity and duration of the sporting activity. Nevertheless, carbohydrates are the primary dietary tool to monitor during a sporting event. By consuming carbohydrates, athletes may maintain blood glucose levels and energy 10 during extended events or high-intensity sports. Various snacks, such as fruit, sports drinks, energy gels, or energy bars, can be consumed during an athletic event to supply quick energy. The body’s ability to tolerate it is the only inconvenience an athlete must worry about. Stomach problems have made incorporating a snack into my running routine very challenging. Liquid gels improved my training experience and performance throughout extended, hard sessions. Finding the right snack for an athlete requires experimenting with various options. Taking supplements during practice is still recommended despite the lack of perceived benefit. This is because supplements help the body recover from training more quickly and maximize its effects, which is the main goal in optimizing performance. Primarily, protein is a necessary macronutrient that is required for muscle repair following intense physical activity. After working out, consuming protein is crucial for muscle development and repair. It significantly aids in athletes recovering and improving more quickly after each workout. Numerous high-quality protein sources are available that may be used before working out. There are other options for protein supplements, but whey protein is the most convenient to consume within 30 minutes of practice. Lean meats, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy products, tofu, and even beans should be consumed in addition to more nutritious foods. The goal of every athlete in any sport is to consume a variety of nutrients. This plays a significant role in achieving optimal performance. Louise A. McLeman noted that: “The current sports nutrition guidelines recommend that ≥ 0.25 g kg−1 of PRO is consumed immediately post to maximize muscle protein synthesis (MPS) and myofibrillar remodeling following endurance exercise” (2019). Endurance sports like running, cycling, or swimming are not the only endurance exercise. Exercise that lasts longer than 45 minutes is classified as an endurance workout because it makes the body use its aerobic ability to generate 11 energy more effectively by combining fats and carbohydrates. Athletes not closely monitored by specialists, such as amateurs, tend to underestimate the impact of over 0.25 g kg−1. Using myself as an example, my weight is 69 kg (153 lbs). Ideally, one should have more than 17 grams of protein after practice. To maximize recovery and muscle synthesis, it is crucial to have a post-workout meal or snack between 30 minutes to 2 hours of working out. The body is most open to absorbing nutrients within this time. Because of this, planning is required in order to consume the proper nutrition shortly after practice. The secret for athletes is always packing a highprotein, high-carbohydrate snack for each sports session away from home. While sufficient protein after working out is necessary to help muscles rebuild more quickly, other components of a healthy post-workout meal are sometimes neglected. After exercise, staying hydrated is essential to restoring fluids lost via sweat and maintaining optimal muscular function. To rehydrate, athletes should consume plenty of water or an electrolyte-rich sports drink. According to several studies, a significant portion of the population does not drink enough water. We undervalue our needs, mainly when we engage in more strenuous physical activity. The first area of focus is maintaining adequate hydration, linked to all consequent activities. To obtain the most significant benefits from the food we eat daily, we must ensure that our bodies are well-hydrated throughout the day, not just after an intense workout. Nutrition Aspects Specific to Sports Various sports and athletes have different nutritional requirements. The body is placed under different pressures from other sports regarding energy consumption, muscular usage, endurance, and healing. A long-distance runner, for instance, needs a distinct dietary strategy than a powerlifter or a basketball player. The ratio of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats in an athlete’s diet may fluctuate depending on the 12 needs of their sport and the macronutrients that are the primary component of nutrients on which to focus. While athletes in strength-based sports may benefit from a greater protein intake to assist muscle growth and repair, endurance athletes may need a higher carbohydrate intake to sustain extended aerobic exertion. The physical health of an athlete is critical. Despite the type of sport, the driving factors on the athlete’s success depend on their endurance, strength, skills, and the health of their bodies. Nonetheless, athletes’ body health is primarily determined by their nutrition levels derived from what they eat (Amawi et al., 2024). However, the diet of a sports athlete is not so different from that of any other person trying to maintain a healthy body. Just like machines require enough and appropriate fuel to function, so does any athlete’s body. Athletes need to take special care to balance the quantity of calories and the vitamins and nutrients that they consume in their bodies. However, while consuming the calories, the amount should be determined by the type of sport they are undertaking, the amount of training needed, and the amount of time spent. It is advisable that athletes eat a meal 2-4 hours before game time (Otsuka Pharmaceutical Company Limited, n.d). It is also vital to consider the time athletes eat or drink, as it is essential to evaluate an athlete’s diet. Energy Requirements, Balance, and Availability Ensuring the consumption of food and drink is crucial to an athlete’s diet. Consuming a proper diet is essential because it is what determines the athlete’s capacity for macronutrient and micronutrient intake, supports optimal body functioning, and aids in the manipulation of body composition. An athlete’s energy intake derived from fluids, food, and supplements is determined based on food frequency questionnaires and measured food records defined for 3-7 days or every 24 hours (Jimenez-Alfageme et al., 2023). However, these methods have limitations, 13 mainly the athlete’s bias in under-reporting energy intakes. This highlights the need to educate athletes on the importance of accurately recording their food intake to improve the precision and relevance of the information they report. It is essential to note that an athlete’s energy intake requirements are determined based on the intensity of the competition they will participate in and the training period. Therefore, food intake varies from time to time through the annual training plan as related to the variations in the training intensity and volume. Some factors that increase energy intake requirements above the normal baseline levels are the use of drugs and medications, stress, fear, exposure to cold and heat, physical injuries, high altitude exposure, menstrual cycles in female athletes, and more. Besides reducing one’s training intensity, the requirements for training in athletes reduce as athletes age, during the follicular stage of the menstrual cycle amongst female athletes, and a reduction in fat-free mass (FFM). Athletes achieve a balance in energy levels when total Energy Intake (EI) equals Total Energy Expenditure (TEE), which is a sum of the Thermic Effect of Food (TEF), basal metabolic rate (BMR), and the Thermic Effect of Activity (TEA) (Media, 2022). Total Energy Expenditure is determined by the summation of basal metabolic rate + Thermic Effect of Food + Thermic Effect of Activity. Additionally, TEA = Planned Exercise Expenditure + Spontaneous Physical Activity + Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. The methods used to determine the composition of Total Energy Expenditure in inactive and fairly active individuals are also applicable among athletes. However, there are limitations to the TEE method, mainly if it is used as a measurement method for Energy Intake in competitive athletes. Since measuring the basal metabolic rate requires athletes to stay at rest, it is relevant in measuring resting metabolic rates (RMR) higher than 10%. Whereas individual regression equations 14 are advised for use in this measurement, a fair estimate of the basal metabolic rate can be obtained by using the Harris-Benedict equations or the Cunningham4 following the application of a proper activity to the total energy expenditure (TEE) (Zajac, & Mucha, 2015). Although the Resting Metabolic Rate is estimated to be 60%-80% of the Total Energy Expenditure in inactive individuals, it can be as low as 38%-47% of the Total Energy Expenditure in active athletes that have a TEA of 50% (Poehman, 1989). The Thermic Effect of Activity entails spontaneous physical activity such as non-exercise activity thermogenesis, fidgeting, and planned exercise expenditure. Energy Expenditure from Exercise (EEE) can be measured using several methods: (1) the use of the 2015 US dietary guidelines and the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), the use of activity codes and metabolic equivalents (METS), and activity logs on the range of 1–7 days based on the Athlete’s participation and exercise intensity (Ndahimana, & Kim, 2017). However, reports show that the 2015 US dietary guidelines and the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), the use of activity codes and metabolic equivalents (METS) undervalue the athlete’s requirements as they do not consider the athlete’s activity level of competition and their body sizes. Energy availability (EA) is a new term in the description of athlete nutrition. EA means the requirements of athlete energy levels with the requirements needed to ensure proper health and functioning of the athlete’s body instead of energy balance. Energy availability calculated as dietary intake – exercise energy expenditure normalized to FFM refers to the body’s energy levels, which an athlete must carry out other activities after a competitive athletics exercise (Holtzman & Ackerman, 2019). The concept of Energy Availability was first analyzed in female athletes, where an EA of 45 kcal/kg FFM/d was associated with energy balance and optimal health 15 (Tarnowski et al., 2023). By contrast, continued reduction in Energy Availability (below 30 kcal/kg FFM/d) impairs many body functions. In the same way a reduction in Energy Availability may be an effect of one’s Energy Intake levels, high Total Energy Expenditure, or both. In the same way low energy availability may result from disordered eating, an excessive program for body mass loss, a sudden failure to meet energy intake requirements during an intensive training program, and more. Macronutrients Carbohydrates Macronutrients, for example, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, give athletes the energy to participate in physical activities and endurance during competitive sports events. Since carbohydrates are energy-giving foods, carbohydrate nutrients are vital for athletes as they discharge glucose, which is essential for energy use (Better Health Channel, n.d). One gram of carbohydrate holds about 4 kilocalories of energy. Moreover, glucose is stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles. Muscle glycogens are the commonly used energy sources that support athlete’s muscles, and they are released faster than other energy sources. Athlete nutritionists advise on the intake of 45% to 65% of total caloric intake in 4–18-year old athletes (Purcell, 2013). Carbohydrate-rich foods athletes are often advised to eat include vegetables, whole grains, milk, fruits, and yogurt. Proteins Proteins are renowned for building and repairing muscles, nails, hair, and the skin. For short-duration and mild exercises, proteins are not considered significant 16 energy sources. However, as the duration of exercise increases, proteins maintain blood glucose through liver gluconeogenesis (Lemon, 1992). 1g of protein releases 4 kilocalories of energy. Nutritionists in athletes 4 -18 years advise that proteins should be 10% to 30% of total energy intake (Lemon, 1992). Athletes should eat protein-rich foods, including dairy products, lean meat, fish, beans, eggs, nuts, peanuts, and poultry. Fats Fats are needed to absorb fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), protect vital organs, release essential fatty acids, and offer insulation. Also, fats provide the feeling of being sated. Fats are a rich source of calories; 1g of fat produces 9 kilocalories. The recommended fat intake in athletes aged 4-18 years is 25% to 35% of total energy intake (Maughan, 1997). Similarly, saturated fats should not exceed 10% of the total energy intake. Athletes are advised to eat meals which contain olive and canola oils, dairy products, lean meat, seeds, nuts, and fish and dairy products to derive fats as an energy source. Typically, athletes are discouraged from eating fried foods, candy, chips, and baked foods. Macronutrients While there are a variety of minerals and vitamins athletes should consume for optimal health, special attention should be given to eating the right amounts of vitamin D, calcium, and iron. Calcium facilitates normal contraction, regular enzyme activity, and strong bones. Athletes between 4-18 years are recommended to take 1000mg/day of calcium nutrients, whereas adults aged 18 years and above should take 1300mg/day (Purcell, 2013). Calcium can be obtained from beverages and foods such as broccoli, yogurt, milk, cheese, fortified grain products, and spinach. 17 Alternatively, Vitamin D is required for the strength and health of bones; Vitamin D also helps in the body’s intake and regulation of calcium. Individuals aged 4-18 years should take 600IU/day of calcium. The amount of Vitamin D an athlete absorbs/takes daily varies based on race and geographical location. For example, athletes who reside in areas of high altitude and those who train indoors, such as gymnasts, skaters, and dancers, often lack sufficient Vitamin D because they lack sunlight exposure. Vitamin D sources include sun exposure and fortified foods like milk. However, some dairy products besides milk, such as yogurt, lack vitamin D. Iron aids the supply of oxygen in the body’s tissues. An adolescent requires more iron as this is a stage of significant body transformation (growth), lean muscle mass development, and blood volume increase. As such, athletes aged 9-13 years are advised to ingest 8mg/day of iron to prevent iron deficiency anemia and the possibility of depleting their iron stores (Roy et al., 2022). Adolescents aged 14 to 18 need additional iron, up to 11mg/day for boys and 15 mg/day for females. The depletion of iron stores is a common phenomenon among athletes because of the high levels of iron loss through sweat, urine, feces, and menstrual blood as well as poor diet lacking in fish, poultry, and the lack of exposure to sunlight. Athletes, predominantly female athletes, long-distance runners, and vegetarians should be regularly screened to assess iron levels in the body. Athletes are advised to consume leafy green vegetables, eggs, green vegetables, lean meat, and fortified whole grains. 18 Sports-specific Nutrition Sprinting Although there is comprehensive literature on stamina running, there is limited information on sprinting. ‘Sprinting’ is a general term used in athletics to mean applied short bursts of maximum energy in activities such as running, swimming, cycling, rowing, canoeing, soccer, field hockey, and rugby. During these activities, the length of the activity often differs from track sprinting. For this project, however, sprinting will be defined as a short-term maximum exercise of less than 60 seconds. The focus of the exercise is intended to ensure maximum oxygen uptake without the dispersion of energy. Proper nutrient intake is primarily ensured during training and sprinting sports activities. Hirvonen et al. (1987, 1992); Lacour et al. (1990); Hautier et al. (1994); and Locatelli & Arsac (1995) have examined the metabolic responses to 100-m and 400-m track sprinting. Hirvonen et al. (1987) calculated the phosphocreatine (PCr), muscle adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and lactate concentrations in seven male sprinters before and after running 40, 60, 80, and 100 meters at the upper limit speed. The results of the studies show that the rate of PCr use is critical in sprinting/ speed at which an athlete runs. Similarly, the survey by Locatelli and Arsac (1995) showed that anaerobic glycolysis produces about 65–70% of the metabolic energy during a 100-m race in a study they carried out on 4 male and 4 female national sprinters during the 1994 Italian championships. Lacour et al. (1990) analyzed the validity of post-exercise lactate concentration as an indicator of the rate of anaerobic glycolysis in a 400-meter sprinting exercise, while Hautier et al. (1994) analyzed the same in 200 and 100-meter sprinting. Lacour et al. (1990) took blood samples from 17 high-level athletes after completing a 400meter race. The researchers observed that postrace blood lactate concentrations 19 were high in the fastest athletes, as observed by the relationship between lactate concentration and running speed among the male athletes (r = 0.85) and women (r=0.80). Hirvonen et al. (1992) aimed to measure the changes in the concentration of muscles in ATP, PCr, and lactate in a 400-meter sprinting race. During the study, a 400-meter race was conducted involving 6 male runners (time, 51.9 ±0.7 s), and interval times were recorded after every 100 meters. At times, the runners were requested to run 100, 200, and 300 meters at the same speed as their 400-meter split times. The runner’s biopsies were recorded from their vastus lateralis muscle before and after completing each meter sprint. After that, these were measured for lactate and PCr concentrations. The research showed that after the first 100-meter sprint, the PCr muscle concentration fell from 15.8±1.7–8.3 ±0.3 mmol· kg–1 wet weight (Fig. 41.3), and by the end of the race, PCr concentration declined by 89% to 1.7±0.4mmol ·kg–1 wet weight (Hirvonen et al., 1992). In the same way, the average speed across the 400-meter race declined after the 200-meter race, much as the lactate and PCr were not depleted at this stage of the competition. The researchers also observed that the level of lactate muscle development in the first 100 meters was nearly half that in the two following race sessions (100–200 and 200–300m). Indeed, this confirms that anaerobic glycolysis contributes to energy production in athletes’ sprinting activities. The rate of adenosine triphosphate production from glycolysis was maximum at 200 and 300 meters, as shown by the high rate of lactate accumulation in the blood and athlete muscles at this stage in the marathon. However, glycolysis dropped during the last 100 meters, causing a dramatic and noticeable decrease in the athlete’s running speed. Lemon (1992) notes that the strength and endurance of an athlete increases when an athlete consumes a diet rich in protein nutrients. Lemon (1992) suggests 20 nutrition level intakes of about 1.4–1.7g protein· kg–1 body mass ·day–1. Lemon and Proctor (1991) add that a diet with 12–15% protein nutrients is sufficient to provide strength to athletes if the total energy intake is enough to compensate for their daily energy expenditure. Athletes must double their energy intake to meet the daily demands of training and engaging in competitive sports. Many of the studies included in this project report on the energy intake of endurance athletes. For example, the study by Burke (2001) confirms that the daily energy intake of sprinting athletes is about 16.8 MJ (400 kcal), the same as the energy intake of bodybuilders in their research. However, the researchers did not record the athletes’ physical characteristics during the time of the study. A balanced diet, consisting of various food nutrients, is recommended to meet the athlete’s needs for minerals, vitamins, and energy. Devlin & Williams (1991) and Lemon (1992) advise a minimum of 60–70% (7–8 g· kg–1) of an athlete’s daily intake of energy foods should be carbohydrates, 12% from protein foods (1.2–1.7 g · kg–1), and the balance energy from fat rich-foods. There is limited evidence to suggest sprinters need additional food supplements (including vitamins and minerals) to supplement a regular balanced diet consisting of a variety of food nutrients to meet an athlete’s energy requirements. According to Murray and Rosenbloom (2018), muscle glycogens improve an athlete’s performance in endurance sports activities. As such, this has been a nutrition strategy used by athletes involved in endurance sports over the years. Similarly, changing the amount of carbohydrate intake in the days preceding the day of competition has been shown to influence positive performance in intense sports activities (Nicholas et al., 1997). There is a point, however, at which glycogen concentration impairs high-intensity exercise. Alghannam, Gonzalez, and Betts 21 (2018) contend that a diet of about 8–10g carbohydrate· kg–1 body mass is enough to replenish the depleted muscle glycogen stores after a day’s 1-hour training session. Bodybuilders use anabolic steroids to enhance their muscle tissues, but this practice is not without its dangers. Hatfield (1987) notes that amino acid supplements have been advertised over the years for strengthening athletes as they seek a musclebuilding effect. The most commonly used amino acids are ornithine and arginine; the two have stimulatory effects on the growth and production of the human growth hormone (HGH) (Williams, 1989). Distance Running Some athletes believe in using nutritional supplements to improve their athletic performances or even turn them into world champions one day. Despite these beliefs, the few nutrition supplements that can provide athletes with such advantages are on the list of prohibited supplements for athletic events by the International Olympic Committee. That said, there is a need to equip athletes with in-depth knowledge of nutritional diets to achieve positive performance and stay on the legal side of athlete participation laws. Given the above constraints, nutritionists advise endurance runners to consume diets containing about 70% of energy from carbohydrates, 15% proteins, and 15% fatty foods. In addition, supplementing athlete diets with more carbohydrates refills muscle glycogen stores and enhances the athlete’s overall performance. Lastly, when an athlete needs to recover fast from training exhaustion and fatigue, a carbohydrate intake of 8–10g · kg–1 body mass ·day–1 is recommended. 22 The loss of body fluids during an activity is influenced by the rate at which the athlete sweats and its proportionality to their metabolic rate and the surrounding temperature. Research by Wyndham and Strydom (1969) on a 32-meter race (150ml h – 1) where athletes consumed less fluids showed a significant loss in the participant’s weight (2.4kg), which also led to high postrace rectal temperatures. Based on this observation, athletes (runners/sprinters) are encouraged to drink lots of fluids (at least 900ml) per hour during a competition to minimize the effects of water loss because of heat (Wyndham & Strydom, 1969). Contemporary investigations indicate that runners consume no more than 500 ml· h–1 during distance races. On the contrary, the sweat rate and the average rates of fluid intake are invariably around 1.0–1.2l· h–1 in competitions that last 2 hours or more (Noakes, 1993). Noakes (1993) explains that athletes fail to match the rate of their fluid loss with fluid intake because runners usually feel complete when they try taking more fluids during an athletic event. According to Davies et al. (1980), the feeling of stomach fullness may partly result from their limited fluid absorption capacity. Jejunal and duodenal perfusion investigations explain that maximum water absorption happens when isotonic solutions containing glucose are taken. These often limit additional fluid absorption at about 0.8l ·h–1 (Davies et al., 1980). Due to the high rate of sodium chloride loss through sweat, the fluid absorption rate of water in the athletes’ bodies can be relatively low. Athletes are advised to take fluids during running to minimize the risks of dehydration leading to a decline in blood flow in the skin and blood plasma, supplement endogenous carbohydrate stores, and improve their overall performance. While it is believed that the best rate of drinking fluids is equal to the rate which measures the rate that measures the loss of fluids, the correct amount of the fluid and electrolyte replacement of the extracellular space 23 is yet to be determined. Lastly, the amount of fluid intake required to restore the high (>1l per h) rate of sweating induced as a result of long athletic exercises almost certainly exceeds the maximal intestinal absorptive capacity for water. Athletes are advised to follow these recommendations in enduring moderate-intensity activities of 6 hours or more: immediately before the activity or during the warm-up exercise; athletes are advised to drink flavored water and ingest about 5 ml per kg of body mass at rest. For the first 60–75 min of the exercise, the athlete should consume 100–150 of a high quality diluted (3.0– 5.0g per 100 ml) glucose polymer solution at regular intervals (10–15 min). However, athletes are cautioned to ingest carbohydrate amounts higher than 30 g during the preliminary stages of the exercise. Only 20g of the consumed carbohydrates are digested in the first hour of moderateintensity exercise, regardless of the type of carbohydrates consumed. Then athletes are advised to increase the ingestion of the solution after 90 minutes of exercise to 7–10g per 100 ml and add 20 mEq per l of sodium. High sodium concentration may not be tolerated well by every athlete despite their benefits. Potassium may be added since it enables the rehydration of the intracellular fluid compartment in the replacement beverage in small amounts of 2–4 mEq per liter. For the remaining part of the race, athletes are advised to consume 100–150ml of potassium at intervals of (10–15min). The consumption regimen helps ensure optimal energy and fluid delivery rates, thus limiting the possibility of the athlete’s dehydration while sustaining the carbohydrate oxidation rate through the end of the exercise period. This regimen supports the athlete’s endurance throughout the the duration of exercise. Cycling Cycling is one of the athletic sports that is typically studied by sports nutritionists and exercise physiologists. Cycling, cross-country skiing, and triathlons 24 have the highest energy turnovers. Over the years, energy use in endurance sports has been measured using the doubly labeled water. The doubly labeled water method effectively measures energy use amongst athletes over a prolonged exercise time (Westerterp et al., 1986). Athletes who partake in prolonged, moderate to high (>70% of maximal oxygen uptake) exercise require high energy levels and high carbohydrate intake. The addition of carbohydrates is needed to optimize the availability of fuel in training sessions and to enable post-exercise muscle glycogen re-synthesis. Glycogen loading or glycogen super-compensation is how athletes restore glycogen levels to their pre-exercise level or above. One of the most common situations in high energy intake occurs when the majority of nutrition consumption during the day coincides when an athlete is exercising. For example, carbohydrate drinks and foods consumed while riding a bicycle produce about 50% of the total energy and 60% of the day’s carbohydrate intake. The best food choices that enable cyclists to achieve this goal are fruits, cakes, bread, candy, and more portable carbohydrate-rich foods. Snacks also provide a high amount of carbohydrates. Snacks contain some fats, simple carbohydrates, and very little micronutrients. Thus, snacks are recommended to cyclists because of their abundant micronutrients and reduced fat (Brouns, 1986). Cyclists are advised to consume portable carbohydrate-rich foods like cakes, bread, and confectionery. Moreover, cyclists should preserve water balance. Among cyclists, dehydration induced by intensive exercise can cause hyperthermia. Alternative studies indicate that preventing dehydration during cycling improves the cyclist’s performance. Based on the prevailing weather conditions, the water loss in cyclists varies from 0.5-3 liters per hour. Athletes’ loss of fluids can be measured based on their weight loss; however, this may include a minor consideration for the athlete’s 25 weight loss due to fat and glycogen oxidation. In a 90-minute cycling exercise, about 100–300 g of fat and glycogen can be oxidized. Athletes can estimate their fluid loss by measuring their body weight before and after exercises and competitions. Team Sports Developing a suitable nutrition plan for team sports entails using scientific research and social skills, which requires working with the coaching and sports medicine staff (Holway & Spriet, 2011). Both court and field team sports involve intermittent activities containing carbohydrate-rich foods that help to restore and maintain the athlete’s glycogen. Substrate and energy demands are required in athletes during matches and pre-season training as well as in competitive training sessions. A dietary plan should include sufficient carbohydrate amounts for a manageable budget that meets the athlete’s protein needs. Sports activities/teams that use power and strength should include muscle-building programs supplemented by sufficient nutrition diets. Nutritionists may use simple anthropometric measurements to observe and evaluate the body’s muscle composition. Alternatively, a urine-specific gravity refractometer and a body mass scale can help nutritionists determine who is susceptible to dehydration during a sports competition. Caffeine and sports beverages are the most common supplements, but the debate continues on creatine’s effectiveness in preventing athletes’ dehydration. Alternatively, maturing adolescents exhibit anxiety about gaining muscles and size. For this reason, a sports psychologist may need to carry out a maturity status assessment using an anthropometric procedure. However, sports psychologists and nutritionists must be aware that athletes’ needs differ, meaning each athlete may use a different nutrition plan. 26 Burke (2007) argues that ensuring optimum nutrition for sports team athletes is not straightforward. According to Burke (2007), economic limitations due to culture and psychological factors often interfere with these programs. As such, nutritionists are advised to use various interpersonal skills to complement their nutrition-specific knowledge in their interactions with sports team athletes and medical and coaching staff. This is not to overlook the exhibition of sports culture and common-sense judgment to ease the possibility of emotional and psychological conflicts. Burke (2007) concludes that effecting policies and procedures for physique assessment, nutrition recovery, and supplementation, which are supposed to be followed on a routine basis, can be vital in achieving nutrition goals for sports athletes. Setting the policies for a nutrition program regarding physical assessment, mealtimes, hydration methods, recovery measures, and nutrition supplements is key in driving the success of a nutrition program. Team coaches design 3 training cycles for their teams per annum, beginning with pre-season training, practices, and match preparation training. Clarke et al. (2003) claim that athletes show high energy needs during pre-season training sessions, which increases their resting energy requirements, while they may require less energy during the ordinary competitive session. Often, teams organize preseason training in camps or a site away from their usual training ground. A weekly menu planning cycle is thus crucial in helping athletes recuperate from the intense training sessions after an exhausting training period. From this project’s literature review, I conclude that menu plans with low-fat composition prompt the inclusion of junk food for athletes in the off-hours if the available menus contain more fiber and fruits. In my view, menu lists containing fewer fatty foods influence athletes to eat junk foods. Unfortunately, eating junk food causes 27 gastrointestinal upsets, affecting athletes’ performance in competitive sports. Athletes typically prefer having a standard food schedule and a menu of common foods rather than being served a variety of foods, which may induce complaints about the food. It is therefore advisable to occasionally plan special meal activities, for example, serving French fries and hamburgers, visiting a restaurant, organizing an outdoor cocktail party, or eating ice cream for dessert. Carbohydrate requirements and energy requirements on match days are high among athletes (Burke et al., 2006). However, the literature review in this project reveals that athletes do not eat much on the sports event day, perhaps because of travel schedules, which change their eating patterns and sometimes because of match stress. Athletes who compete once a week have enough time to recuperate and adjust their nutrition composition over the week. Alternatively, athletes who compete three times or more a week require a rigorous nutrition program to sustain their performance levels (Burke, 1995). Reily and Ekblom (2005) opine those athletes involved in relentless sports competitions (many times in a row) risk experiencing continual glycogen and fluid depletion, which may cause a downward effect on their performance levels. This highlights the importance of designing consistent measures to promote carbohydrate and fluid intake in these athletes. Conditions may be even more challenging when a sports team is playing away, meaning that the sports team must cope with alternative food sources from a restaurant, limiting their freedom to make food choices per their nutrition plan (Burke, 2007). Sports teams may need snacks to support nutrition recovery if this is the case. Rodriguez et al. (2009a, 2009b) suggest a more practical way of determining weight loss amongst athletes is to weight the athletes before and after the practice session to identify the athletes who have lost about 2% weight, which is considered a 28 point at which an athlete’s performance can be affected. Another evaluation method is carrying out a urine specific gravity (USG) measurement with a hand-held refractometer to determine the athlete’s hydration status (Volpe et al., 2009). Burke & Hawley (1997) and Maughan & Shirreffs (2010) argue that athletes often turn up for training or on match days in a hypo-hydrated status. In this case, Palmer, Logan, and Spriet (2010) argue that taking an estimated 600 mL of sports drinks or water before the practice or game can help rehydrate the athlete in a mere 30–45 minutes. Armstrong et al. (2010) add that urine-specific gravity data can be plotted against published percentile standards of hydration and athletes to ease the identification of athletes likely to experience dehydration during a competitive sport. During the process, the baseline urine-specific gravity values for athletes will be obtained from the athletes’ routine training sessions. Another method that can be used to determine the athlete’s hydration condition is using urine color charts (Armstrong et al., 1998). However, this method can be compromised if the athlete takes vitamin supplements, which change the urine color. Noticeably, athletes with concentrated urine are considered to be highly susceptible to dehydration during practice or games. While it may be challenging to measure team members on match day because coaches prefer to avoid any distractions, this data can be valuable and is often different from data obtained at friendly matches and training sessions. Sweat losses can be high when games are played in hot climates (Kurdak et al., 2010). Game-day stress may alter players’ drinking practices, leading to over- or underhydration. Drinking at half-time varies widely, with some players drinking two cans of energy drinks and some tentatively sipping water. Nevertheless, most people can comfortably consume half a liter or more of sports beverages. Team sports without a formal half-time break, such as baseball, can use time off the field to refuel 29 with fluids. Sports teams with limited funding have successfully prepared their homemade sports drink with sugar, maltodextrin, table salt, water, and a flavoring agent. To identify heavy salt sweaters, training with dark-colored clothing can be used to identify contrasting white salt stains. More sophisticated methods include the application of sweat patches to assess the extent of electrolyte loss (Shirreffs et al., 2006). Although still an issue of debate, some authors suggest that increasing salt intake may help some athletes prone to cramping (Eichner, 2007). Lastly, the availability of drinking opportunities and the accessibility of drinking bottles are helpful strategies in providing fluids to athletes (Murray, 2006). Nutrition for team sports requires knowledge of the sport-specific physiology of training and competition as well as social skills to implement dietary recommendations within a multi-professional sports science and medicine group and coaching staff. Roles and Responsibilities of a Sports Dietitian Practicing as a sports nutritionist or dietitian, one needs a plethora of knowledge spanning nutrition science, the application of evidence-based research, exercise psychology, and clinical nutrition. Since sports activities are competitive, athletes and sports teams always seek competent individuals to help them achieve their goals. As such, sports nutritionists are in demand within the athletic industry. Athletes need sports nutritionists to advise them or their teams on the appropriate diet plans to improve their physical well-being and performance. Similarly, experienced sports nutritionists with knowledge of athlete diets assist athletes in making the proper diet choices that sustain their enhanced sports performance. The Commission on Dietetic Registration (the credentialing agency for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics) was established as an umbrella body for registered dietitian nutritionists (Commission on Dietetic Registration, n.d). The Agency brings together 30 all dietitians who offer sports nutrition services to athletes. Likewise, the BoardCertified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) credential is the Premium Professional Sports nutrition agency that provides sports nutrition services to athletes in the United States (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, n.d). CSSD services are also available in international countries like Canada. Sports dietitians provide specialist nutrition advice and counseling that advance athletes’ health and physical performance. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics clarifies the role of a sports dietitian in providing medical nutrition therapy in the design, care, implementation, and management of nutrition strategies that enhance athletes’ health, fitness, and endurance. Dietitian roles and responsibilities in athlete nutrition are considerable. Sports dietitians assist in assessing the nutritional needs, the current dietary practices, and their impacts on athletes (University of Plymouth, n.d). A dietitian monitors an athlete’s energy intake, including food and fluids, before, during, and after the training or match session. Dietitians also assess athlete nutrition-related concerns, for example, the manifestation of allergies resulting from the food eaten, eating disorders, hypoglycemia, muscle cramps, and gastrointestinal upsets, and support the injury management process of athletes by ensuring athletes consume proper diets to recover faster. A dietitian’s role is to determine the amount of fluids and food an athlete should consume when at rest, traveling, and when in training. Indeed, sports nutritionists play a significant role in conditioning athletes’ bodies to ensure they perform well. In addition, the dietitian determines the nutrition requirements of an athlete following changes in weather patterns and if the athlete engages in high-altitude training exercises. They also check to measure athlete’s metabolic risk factors related to an athlete’s low body weight and its effects on the athlete’s performance. 31 This information guides dietitians on the appropriate nutritional needs that should be implemented for particular sports in individual athletes. Dietitians measure athletes’ body weight, height, body composition, and supplementation practices, which are essential for anthropometry and biochemistry. They conduct body composition, urine, and blood analysis to determine an athlete’s hydration status. This information helps nutritionists recommend appropriate energy intake based on athletes’ characteristics. Additionally, dietitians give dietary prescriptions and recommendations similar to nurses in healthcare settings. A dietitian develops a plan to enable behavioral change to improve an athlete’s body composition and overall health. The dietitian makes the suggestions relative to the participant’s expressed concerns depicted in training, tapering, competition nutrition, periodized weight/fat loss, and the timing of energy intakes before and after practice. The goal is to improve the athlete’s practice performance and stamina. Dietitians serve in a capacity similar to medical practitioners in healthcare settings by giving athletes therapeutic guidance regarding the diets they should consider to maintain their body health and shape. This includes cautioning athletes on foods that may cause them health issues such as diabetes, food allergies, gastrointestinal upsets, and eating disorders. On sports teams, dietitians lead nutrition members responsible for menu planning, food preparation, grocery shopping, food budgeting, food storage, time management, and menu changes on competition and training days (Thomas et al., 2016). On match travel days, the dietitian is responsible for choosing a venue/eatery location that they trust on behalf of the team. They guide athletic teams on the appropriate ergogenic aids, supplementation, and fortified foods as far as their safety, legality, and efficiency for use are concerned for athletes. Dietitians also develop 32 resources and educational materials about athlete diets. Although dietitians are seen more as aids or sports nutritionists, they collaborate with athletes and the coaching staff to form a compact team, each playing a role in a team’s performance. Therefore, sports nutritionists integrate nutrition programming into a team’s/individual nutrition plan. Lastly, dietitians document the nutrition results of specific nutrition programs to assess their impacts on the athlete’s performance and guide the coaching team on whether to adopt or forego the plan. Eating Disorder in Athletes The problem of eating disorders for athletes is a risk that increases daily. An eating disorder can be easily missed by anyone on the staff. Nutritional leadership for athletes seems to be the boldest and best move to ensure the problem is tackled effectively. It is essential for nutrition counselors of athletes to have ample knowledge of eating disorder symptoms, prevention strategies, as well as strategies and proper methods to address the problem when dealing with athletes with the disorder. It has been approximated that eating disorders occur in the range of 0-19% for male athletes and 6-45% for female athletes. An eating disorder is a mental illness that grows somewhat unconsciously in athletes due to various factors, including high levels of stress and anxiety. Other risk factors that can lead to the development of eating disorders include pressure for weight cycling and dieting. Most sports emphasize leanness, which pressures the athletes to reduce their body mass and weight. When the first weight loss leads to victory, the athlete is likely to want to keep dieting to maintain the victory and unconsciously falls into an eating disorder. This may pose a hazardous domino effect on the other athletes, both team members or rival athletes, who may engage in unwarranted dieting leading them to an eating disorder as well. Another factor is the personality of the athlete. Researchers have 33 suggested that many of the traits that people with eating disorders exhibit are the traits that most sports coaches admire and expect their athletes to have. Some of the characteristics might include perfectionism, over-compliance, and excessive exercise. These traits are symptoms of eating disorders and the best ingredients for success in sports events and competitions. Also, choosing a sport that does not align with the body type is another problem that leads to eating disorders. Athletes who start sport-specific training at an early age are more likely to engage in eating disorders due to the weight requirements that are needed and the pubertal changes. Traumatic events such as accidents and injuries to athletes can become a trigger for the development of eating disorders. After suffering from serious injuries, athletes are likely to gain unwanted weight due to emotional stress and the inability to train and compete. To combat stress, athletes develop eating disorders that impact their careers and performance in sports. Also, sexual orientation is noted to be a trigger for male athletes. Homosexual males are at higher risk of developing eating disorders compared to heterosexual male athletes. Several measures can be taken in the prevention and treatment of eating disorders, including early detection and mitigation. Early detection is one of the most critical steps in recovery. Since an eating disorder is a mental illness, it should be treated as such, and the athlete should be treated accordingly with the proper medication, nutrition, and psychiatric treatment. The effect of eating disorders on the performance of athletes is influenced by many factors, including the psychological and physical requirements of the particular sport. Fogelholm (1994) notes that the inability of an athlete to endure for the duration of the competition affects their performance. Ingjer and Sundgot-Borgen (1991) argue that the absolute maximal oxygen intake remains the same or reduces following the loss in body weight. At the same time, the maximum oxygen intake 34 might increase following the loss of body weight. Muscle strength and anaerobic performance often decrease after weight loss, even when the athlete is subjected to 1–3 hours of rehydration. If the athlete is again measured after 5–24 hours of rehydration, their performance remains at a dehydrated level (Klinzing & Karpowicz, 1986; Fogelholm et al., 1993). Fogelhom (1994) adds that the lack of coordination when an athlete is dehydrated negatively affects athlete performance (Fogelholm, 1994). Nutritional Intervention on Overtraining Athletes train to improve their performance and sports participation abilities. An athlete is expected to engage in intensive and routine exercise practices to enhance performance. Accordingly, this prompts athletes to constantly balance training and over-training to achieve their desired performance. Often, athletes find it difficult to find an optimal balance point to train and recover despite the significance of the balance to their sports performance and overall health. During the 1988 Olympic speed-skating sports competition, the difference in the average velocity between all gold and silver medal athletes was 0.3% (Orie et al., 2014). Conversely, the mean variation between all the gold medalists and the fourth-placed athlete was 1.3%. Unfortunately, limited scientific information can be accessed to guide on the best training durations to achieve better sports performance. The limited amount of information on training duration for peak performance literature suggests there is an estimated correlation between training duration and improvement in athlete performance. Still, sports psychologists and coaches argue that there is the right amount of training duration for improved athlete performance. Unfortunately, the supposed training duration is uncertain and leaves a gray area, which is often the cause of over-training. 35 Another form of overtraining is metabolic over-reach; this involves highintensity training exercises. High-intensity training exercises require a high carbohydrate supply, which causes a quick depletion of glycogen stores. When athletes engage in high-intensity exercises with low glycogen levels, they may be imbalanced between ATP generation and adenosine triphosphate. Consequently, this causes an increase in adenosine diphosphate (ADP). Research studies show that the lack of carbohydrate nutrients increases an athlete’s susceptibility to incidents of overreaching. To avoid this, athletes are advised to increase their intake of carbohydrates and ensure they quickly replenish their glycogen stores. Kerksick et al. (2019) argue that increasing the intake of carbohydrates soon after a sports event restores an individual’s glycogen stores in a day. Even then, increasing the intake of carbohydrates only reduces the risk of metabolic overtraining but does not prevent it. Recovery Foods and Meal Planning for Young Athletes One of the most challenging elements to manage in the science of athlete nutrition is meal planning in the event of athletic competitions. Meal timing is a crucial consideration since athlete meals are usually individualized. Therefore, athletes must identify the foods that enhance their performance and recommend them to their nutritionists. Athletes are cautioned against experimenting, eating new foods, or trying new routines on a match day. The standard meal plan on a sports day is to eat at least 3 hours before the game starts so that digestion is complete and to avoid gastrointestinal distress during the competition, which ultimately affects the athlete’s performance. Athletes should also eat meals rich in proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, while fiber should be removed from the menu (Bangsbo et al., 1992). Meals rich in fatty foods should be removed from the athlete’s menu immediately before the 36 competition as they delay gastric emptying, making athletes slow which affects their competitiveness in a game if the competition is scheduled in the early morning. A liquid or snack meal 1 to 2 hours before the game is recommended, and a breakfast meal after the competition to generate energy and recover fast. Drinks and snacks should be consumed 1-2 hours before a competitive game to enable proper digestion. Recommended snacks an athlete can eat before game time are dried fruits, cereals, juice, juice-based smoothies, milk, and fresh fruits. Athletes are allowed to bring granola bars, fruits, and sports drinks to a match as these pose no issue but produce energy that makes athletes more competitive and enhances endurance. Granola bars are highly concentrated in carbohydrates and fats, which are the essential fuels required for athletes to keep running. They are also the best and most reliable sources of energy needed to help athletes maintain their stance in competitions and exercise sessions. Recovery foods should be eaten within 30 minutes of training and within 1-2 hours of exercise to help the athlete refill energy levels with glycogen that supports faster recovery. However, it is essential that foods eaten during the training should have protein and carbohydrates. These foods include yogurt, graham crackers with peanut butter and juice, fruit, or a sports drink with fruit and cheese. In this case, cheese is the ultimate source of fat that is essential for athletes to maintain training and generate muscle mass. Soft drinks also act as reliable sources of water or rehydration that help maintain the water levels of athletes during sports events, competitions, and exercise sessions. A well-balanced diet is essential for growing athletes to maintain proper growth and optimize performance in athletic endeavors. An ideal diet comprises 45% to 65% carbohydrates, 10% to 30% protein, and 25% to 35% fat. Fluids are essential for 37 maintaining hydration and should be consumed before, during, and after athletic events to prevent dehydration. The timing of food consumption is critical to optimizing performance. Meals should be eaten at least 3 hours before exercise, and snacks should be eaten 1 to 2 hours before activity. Recovery foods should be consumed within 30 min of exercise and again within 1 hour to 2 hours of activity to allow muscles to rebuild and ensure proper recovery. Emerging Trends in Sports Nutrition Ergogenic aids and supplementation described as substances, strategies, and methods utilized particularly for sports efficiency, is an all-encompassing term. These aids might include legal additives like creatine, caffeine, beta-alanine, beetroot juice, and maybe some deadly substances like anabolic steroids. For instance, creatine is one of the most commonly used supplements that increase body phosphocreatine stores. This significant energy source is needed during short, high-intensity workout routines. Caffeine is another compound used for its stimulant effect and to improve alertness, focus, and endurance in workouts as well as reduce fatigue and perceived exertion during exercise. Supplementation with beta-alanine can increase carnosine content in muscles, and this enhances the ability of the muscles to neutralize lactic acid, thereby delaying the onset of fatigue in short, intense exercises. As opposed to this, beetroot juice, which has a high quantity of nitrates, can improve exercise performance through the production of nitric oxide, vasodilation, and oxygen production for muscles in use. Even though these ergo-aids may produce noticeable performance enhancement, athletes and nutrition experts emphasize safety, legality, and evidence-based approach as the first things to consider when introducing supplements to training and competition practice. 38 Long-Term Health and Nutrition According to Turnagöl et al. (2021), proper nutrition is a critical component of sports performance and good health. It aids in injury prevention. The nutritional interventions for injury prevention are tailored in a way that helps strengthen the musculoskeletal system, improves the immune system, and facilitates effective repair of tissues, which, in turn, reduces the risk of injury and achieves a better recovery. A balanced and nutritious diet, which contains protein, vitamins, and minerals, is essential because it supports bones, muscles, and connective tissue growth and development. Protein, for example, is used for muscle repair and synthesis, and calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium are essential for strong bones. Ensuring that athletes consume a balanced diet containing these micronutrients, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory foods is the easiest and most efficient way to fight the oxidative stress and inflammation caused by exercise. In addition, personalized supplementation programs designed for different athletes with varied goals and health statuses matter significantly in achieving the best results and eliminating the risks of ergogenic aids. Athletic performance foods are manufactured to contain specific nutrients that produce optimal energy, aid in muscle recovery, and effectively fight infections. These snacks are specifically formulated to provide the nutrition that athletes need. As a result, this meal plan is practical and convenient for athletes who need to meet their dietary requirements and enhance their performance. Protein-added snacks, electrolyte-boosted drinks, and nutritious meal replacements are excellent examples of fortified foods. Snacks with added protein are sources of amino acids essential for muscle repair and growth after workouts. This is why they help in muscle healing after physical exhaustion. Sports drinks with high levels of electrolytes help restore 39 sodium, potassium, and other electrolytes lost during sweat with intense training. They work to maintain proper hydration and ensure optimal muscle performance (Downs et al., 2020). Nutrient-dense meal replacement products allow athletes to quickly and easily obtain the nutrients and protein that are very important for them to recover and play well. These foods are adequately researched and formulated to cater to athletes’ needs regarding nutrients. In this way, they play an active role in helping athletes who are focused on being the best and maintaining a high health status. The sports nutrition research field is dynamic and health experts are seeking to better understand the link between diet and performance, recovery, and the overall health of athletes. Scientists and nutrition specialists make every effort to find the best solutions, techniques, and interventions to improve the efficiency of nutrient timing, enhance metabolism, and speed up recovery. This research involves the exploration of the consequences of these nutrients, supplements, and dietary habits for athletic performance, muscle protein synthesis, immune function, and injury prevention. Additionally, scientists are concomitantly examining new technologies such as personalized nutrition based on the athlete’s genetic profile, the analysis of gut microbiome, and biomarker measurements that will help to create a personal dietary plan that will be precisely tailored to an athlete’s physiology and current conditions. Sports nutrition research is an outstanding platform for developing new injury and disease prevention methods, performance enhancement, and health support globally. Good hydration is essential for injury prevention because dehydration can cause muscle dysfunction, resulting in joint lubrication and increasing the possibility of cramps and muscle strains. In addition, athletes should maintain an active fluid 40 balance pre- and post-exercise to ensure hydration and provide cells with the required nutrients. Nutrition intervention can also remedy dietary deficits and imbalances found in sports injuries, such as stress fractures, tendonitis, and ligament strains. For example, iron and vitamin C could be added to a deficient diet. Additionally, amino acids, essential for collagen synthesis to strengthen tendons and ligaments could also be added, thus lowering the risk of overuse injuries (Close et al., 2019). Evidence-based nutritional tactics must be integrated with athletes’ training and recovery schedules to minimize injuries, sustain good musculoskeletal health, and enhance performance in sports. A solid nutrition plan is critical to success in athletes’ recovery from training to ensure longevity in their profession. According to Thomas et al. (2016), nutrition assists in getting the body to function at an optimum level, repairing muscle, restoring glycogen reserves, and boosting immune performance following an intense training session or competition. Consuming carbohydrates and high-quality proteins in the first half an hour to two hours after exercise as a snack or meal will help refill the muscles and the liver glycogen stores and help build muscle proteins. This will, in turn, boost the recovery and adaptation of the training stimuli. Moreover, consuming food loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and omega-3 fatty acids will also assist in decreasing the inflammation and oxidative stress associated with exercising, thereby boosting recovery and immune function. Consuming proper nutrition will also extend the lifespan of athletes by keeping them generally healthy, reducing their chances of developing chronic diseases, and improving their physiological systems’ functioning as they age. Adequate intake of 41 necessary nutrients, micronutrients, and hydration ensures musculoskeletal health, cardiovascular function, cognitive function, and metabolic health by supporting longterm performance and improving well-being. Dietary strategies aimed at individual athletes’ physiological changes and performance goals will address age-related changes in metabolism, hormones, and nutrients, ensuring performance at the highest level and prolonging life throughout their athletic careers. By emphasizing nutrition as an essential element of recovery and longevity, athletes can live longer and healthier and continue to succeed in their chosen sports for years to come. According to et al. (2009), providing nutrient resources to athletes is fundamental to achieving a competitive advantage, recovery process, and overall health. This implies that it is paramount to create a comprehensive educational support system that will provide athletes with knowledge, tools, and resources to help them make the right decisions regarding their diet. This is the central role of nutrition leaders who strive to create policy and initiate environments that are healthorientated and improve athletes’ accessibility to nutritious foods and drinks. This might involve working with sports organizations, education institutions, community, and policymakers to implement nutrition programs, establish dining services, and offer resources such as meal planning, recipes, and cooking classes. By establishing nutrition education and an encouraging community, athletes can form healthy eating patterns, fuel their bodies effectively, and reach their ultimate potential in sports and life. Measures to address the gaps in access to sufficient food resources are also needed to promote equity and inclusivity in sports. Females from underprivileged minority or under-resourced communities may face barriers like limited financial 42 resources, lack of food security, or limited access to a variety of nutritious dishes, which can impact their ability to meet their nutritional needs and perform at their best. Nutrition leaders must focus on the implementation of initiatives that will help to reduce these inequalities, for instance, providing subsidies for healthier foods, conducting education programs on nutrition in low-income areas, and advocating for policies that will improve access and affordability of foods for all athletes. Athletes from different backgrounds would have equal access to quality nutritional resources. This access will lead to an inclusive and equitable sports environment for all athletes, regardless of their background, so that everyone has the opportunity to thrive. Future Directions in Nutrition Leadership Continual progression in sports nutrition research is extending the limits of our knowledge on the effect of diet on athletic performance, recovery, and overall wellbeing. Scientists are at the forefront of personalized nutrition, achieved through technology and data science directed towards individual athletes’ physiological features, metabolic profiles, and training goals. The tailored approach of this method allows the creation of more precise nutrition interventions that consider the ratio of nutrients, time, and supplementation strategies for each athlete to attain the best possible results. For instance, gene tests and biomarker analysis can show the athlete’s genetic predispositions, nutrient absorption or utilization efficiency, and sensitivity or susceptibility to specific health conditions. This means that nutritionists can develop individualized nutrition plans that consider these genetic traits and help athletes achieve optimal health and performance. 43 Cella et al. (2021) examined the relationship between the gut microbiome and sports nutrition. Their research evaluated how microorganisms in the digestive tract interact to influence nutrient absorption, immune function, inflammation, and energy metabolism (Cella et al, 2021). The latest research demonstrates that microbiome composition and diversity are associated with performance, recovery, and diet options in athletes so that a supplementation strategy may be required. By studying the delicate balance between nutrition, gut microbial condition, and athletic performance, science seeks to develop new methods that strengthen the condition of the gut microbiome and, consequently, athletes’ general health. The advancement of sports nutrition scientific knowledge will be a new page in the book of athletics. It will change how athletes treat the fueling of their bodies, how they rejuvenate themselves after training and competition, and preserve their health for years to come. The application of technology in nutrition planning is becoming increasingly critical in athletes’ and nutritionists’ work with dietary management. Adopting these devices allows for the introduction of new and effective means of nutrition management that improve performance, recovery, and general health. Athletes can track their food and drinks quickly and in real-time with the help of mobile apps, wrist wearables, and digital platforms. These apps can analyze the nutrients needed. These technologies include food journaling, meal planning, nutrient tracking, and tailor-made recommendations to suit individual schedules, goals, and preferences. In the same way, athletes can record their meals and snacks on their phone apps to get feedback on their macronutrient and micronutrient intake at any time, which can help them eat properly and stay on the path toward their nutrition goals. 44 Conclusion Energy levels, recovery times, strength, endurance, and general health are all impacted by nutrition, which is why it is so crucial to sports performance. We examined how a healthy diet gives athletes the energy they need to compete and train at their optimal levels. For any athletic performance, an in-depth understanding of the timing of nutrients is essential. Timing one’s nutritional intake has a significant effect on performance. Pre-event nutrition ensures athletes have enough energy for practice or competition, and post-event nutrition promotes muscle solubility, glycogen resupply, and general recovery. As part of my informed research study, I have mainly discussed my sports, cross country and track, as I am more knowledgeable about them. Intense training has been shown to momentarily suppress the immune system, which increases an athlete’s susceptibility to disease, at least in my experience with endurance sports. An appropriate energy intake is the cornerstone of the athlete’s diet since it supports optimal body function, determines the capacity for intake of macronutrients and micronutrients, and manipulates body composition. Generally, an athlete’s diet should be customized according to their sport, training schedule, desired body composition, and dietary requirements. Athletes may create a dietary plan that promotes their general health and well-being and maximizes performance by working with a certified sports nutritionist. 45 References Lambert, V. MS, RDN, LD; Carbuhn, A. PhD, RDN, CSSD; Culp, A. RDN, CSSD, LD, CEDRD; Ketterly, J. MS, RDN, CSSD, LD; Twombley, B. 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