Nutritional Requirements For Athletes

Good nutrition is important for fitness and good athletic performance. Nutritional requirements of athletes are similar to the requirements of less active people. Generally, athletes need more energy and more water than others. Athletes performance depend upon the foods they choose and foods they avoid, it depends upon the life time good nutrition.

Nutritional Requirements

Like others, athletes nutritional requirements also vary with individual depending upon their weight, height, age, sex and metabolic rate. Dietary intake and essential nutrients intake must be planned carefully to meet requirements for training and fitness.


Energy requirement is based on the rate of activity and how long it is performed. If a person performed heavier activity, then they need highest energy requirements. Athletes can usually rely on their natural appetite and satiety signals to regulate their food intake. The appropriate total energy intake whatever level maintains desirable and healthy weight. The calorie intake should be between 3000-6000 kcal depending upon activity. Calorie intake is associated with the increased need for thiamin, riboflavin and niacin.


Carbohydrate is the major nutrient which is required to support energy in exercise. Carbohydrate should contribute about 55% or more of the daily calorie intake. The ability to sustain peak performance over an extended period of time is influenced by the availability of muscle glycogen. To build up glycogen two phases of preparation are recommended.

First Phase: First about a week, before the competition, the athletes exercises vigorously to deplete glycogen stores and consume high protein and fat diet and restricted to about 100g carbohydrate.

Second Phase: After 2- 3 days of glycogen depleting phase, a diet low in fat, moderate in protein and high in carbohydrate is consumed for 3 to 4 days. Complex carbohydrates that also furnish minerals and vitamins are preferred to simple sugars.


Adult Dietary Allowance of protein is recommended about 10-12% of kcal in the diet which is 1g per kg body weight to meet general needs during exercise. High protein diet increases the production of urea which contributes to dehyration, a serious factor during strenuous exercise. High protein diets also lead to increase excretion of calcium in the urine.

Endurance exercise does increase the protein needs of athletes by 150% of the RDA. Athletes participating in events requiring strength more than endurance usually experience only a slight increase in protein need. There is no evidence that eating more protein can increase metabolic efficiency. If you take excess protein without any training program , it may store as fat.


Dietary fat is not necessary to maintain fat stores. Since excess kilocalories will be stored as fat regardless of their dietary source. It is important to have some fat in our diet. Compulsive runners who have virtually eliminated fat from their diets have linoleic acid deficiency, it may also result death from cardiac arrest in some cases. It is important to add some fat in our diet, the total amount should not exceed 20-25% of the tatal daily calorie intake.

Vitamins and Minerals

Increased exercise levels are not correlated with increased dietary needs for vitamins and minerals with the possible exception of riboflavin. In general, exercise increase the body efficient use of vitamins and minerals. Since athletes have to increase dietary need for energy, their larger calorie intake of vitamins and minerals.


Carbohydrate loading is not recommended for short term competition since it can lead to a feeling of heaviness, that it is a disadvantage in high-intensity competition. Carbohydrate loading may also effects myoglobinuria, chest pain and change in ECG have been observed when glycogen loading has been used persistently. So, carbohydrate loading is not advised for athletes in early adolescence and should not be used more than two to three times a year.