Nutrition For Sprinter - Nutritional Guidelines and Supplement Food - For Maximum Performance

>> May 29, 2011

One primary goal for good nutrition is to maintain health. Sprinters need good nutrition so that he or she can maintain energy levels during intense training. The use of good nutrition also help facilitate the recovery process that can optimize training adaptations, and thus maximizes performance.

There are many supplements that are essentials and should be used to improve performances. However we will focus to the supplements that hve been proven effective for sprint performances (Tipton, Jeukendrup & Hespel, 2007);

1) Beta-alanine (β-alanyl-L-histidine)
Scientific research have shown the effect of Beta-alanine as follows:
# Increase muscular strength & power output
# Increases muscle mass
# Increase anaerobic endurance
# Increases aerobic endurance
# Delay muscular fatigue- train harder & longer

2) Creatine
# Enhance power output during short maximal exercise
# Improve sprint performances by enhancing the efficacy of resistant training
# Gains in fat free mass and muscle force and power output that accompany resistance training

3) Sodium Bicarbonate
# SB known as buffering action. It's an alkali agent of which often used to enhance performances through the ability of buffering the build-up of acid lactic on the blood resulted from anaerobic glycolysis. It's very effective especially for a 400m sprinter (and distances, too)

4) Caffeine
# Caffeine is a popular stimulant used by most individuals and athletes
# Improve muscle fibre recruitment
# Improve mental alertness (Wow, faster starts... BUT overdose will negatively affect reaction time!)

# NOTE: Topics of Macronutrient (Vitamin, Mineral, Carbohydrate, Protein, Fat), and also some nutritional agents that promote more on recovery will be discussed in the next time.

Summary of Nutritional Guidelines For Sprinter:

  • Carbohydrate intake should be sufficient (~5g/kg body wt) to maintain glycogen stores during training.
  • Energy intake should be carefully considered – if increased muscle mass is desired, energy intake should be increased; if muscle mass is optimal, energy intake should be maintained and perhaps monitored.
  • Protein intake is likely adequate for the majority of sprinters, but if energy intake is increased a portion of this increase could, and perhaps should, be protein.
  • Type of protein and timing of protein ingestion should be considered if increased muscle mass is the goal.
  • Race day nutrition should be developed individually with the goal of avoiding GI distress and dehydration.
  • Creatine supplementation may enhance increases in muscle mass and strength, but sprinters must consider the extra weight gain associated with creatine use.
Principle (Tenets) of Good Nutrition
    In order to achieve top performance, athletes require an appropriate quantity of energy (calories) and various nutrients (carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins,and minerals) as well as the correct balance or quality of these nutrients. NSCA recommends five tenets of good nutrition as follow:
    • Adequacy: A diet which contains enough of the essential nutrients.
    • Balance: A diet which contains a good proportion of nutrients. No overemphasis of one food group or another.
    • Calorie Control: A diet which contains the correct amount of calories to maintain ideal body weight.
    • Moderation: A diet which enables you to eat any food in reasonable-size portions
    • Variety: A diet which contains different types of food to prevent boredom.
    Nutrition During Competition Days

    The most important message for athletes during competition is "avoid hunger but not risking the discomfort of a full stomach".

    The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) recommends following nutrition's tips  for sprinter during competition;

    1) The following foods are suitable to eat 3-4 hours before exercise:
    • Crumpets with jam or honey + flavoured milk, baked potato + cottage cheese filling + glass of milk, baked beans on toast, breakfast cereal with milk, bread roll with cheese/meat filling + banana, fruit salad with fruit-flavoured yoghurt, pasta or rice with a sauce based on low-fat ingredients (e.g. tomato, vegetables, lean meat)
    2) The following foods are suitable to eat 1-2 hours before exercise:
    • Liquid meal supplement, milk shake or fruit smoothie, sports bars (check labels for carbohydrate and protein content), breakfast cereal with milk, cereal bars, fruit-flavoured yoghurt, fruit
    3) The following foods are suitable to eat if there is less than 1 hour between events:
    • Sports drink, carbohydrate gel, cordial, sports bars, jelly lollies
      1) Wilmore & Costill (2007). Physiology of Sprts and Exercise. Champaign, IL: HK
      2) Wein & Palmer (2008). Does your diet pass muster?. NSCA, Perf Training J, (7) 14-15.
      3) Tipton, Jeukendrup & Hespel (2008). Nutrition for Sprinter. J of Sp Sci, 25 (S1): 5 - 15.
      4) Australian Institute of Sport (
      5) Beta-Alanin, The Facts (

      Recommended reading;

      Practical Sports Nutrition
      NSCA's Guide to Sport and Exercise Nutrition
      Runner's World Performance Nutrition for Runners
      Sports and Exercise Nutrition

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