The American College of Sports Medicine is the world's largest organization of sports medicine and exercise science professionals. At ACSM's annual meeting in Indianapolis (May, 2013), more than 6,000 exercise scientists, sports dietitians, physicians and health professionals gathered to share their research. Here are a few nutrition highlights.
FuelFor fuel during endurance exercise, the recommended intake is 30 grams carbohydrate per hour during 1 to 2 hours of exercise and 60-90 g carb/h for exercise lasting more than 2.5 hours.
However, some runners have intestinal issues and prefer to abstain from food and fluids before and during exercise. If you train on "empty," you should know that just rinsing your mouth with a sports drink can reduce the perception of fatigue and improve performance by 3 percent. The next time your stomach can't handle anything and you are about to hit the wall, try swishing and spitting.
SupplementsStrength and power athletes who do high-intensity exercise (i.e., track and field athletes) rely on carbohydrates for fuel. These track and field athletes commonly eat plenty of protein, but they often fail to consume adequate carbohydrates. They may look to supplements to enhance their energy when more oatmeal, sweet potato or brown rice could do the job.
Some popular sports supplements among strength/power athletes include creatine (for weight lifting and other repetitive high intensity exercise that lasts for less than 30 seconds) and beta-alanine and sodium bicarbonate (buffers that reduce fatigue associated with lactic acid build-up during 1 to 6 minutes of sprint-type exercise). Sodium bicarbonate is best tolerated when taken in capsule-form, not as baking soda.
Strength/power athletes who train intensely should be sure to drink enough water. Being dehydrated by 3 percent reduces muscle power and strength in the upper body by 7 percent and in the lower body by 19 percent. Don't underestimate the power of proper hydration.
More: 4 Common Hydration Myths
NitratesCould eating beets or drinking beet juice before daily training help runners train harder and thereby compete better? Perhaps.
Nitrate-rich beets, concentrate beetroot juice shots and other nitrate-rich foods (e.g., spinach, rhubarb, arugula) get converted into nitric oxide, which helps reduce the amount of oxygen needed during constant-work-rate exercise. Hence, for the same oxygen uptake, athletes who consume beet juice shots might be able to exercise harder. For example, a runner might improve by 5 seconds a mile.
Some athletes respond better to dietary nitrates than others. Perhaps the strong responders routinely eat very few fruits and veggies, and therefore have a low nitric-oxide baseline. Consuming nitrates might contribute to a more dramatic response. Note: Bacteria in the mouth helps convert dietary nitrate into nitric oxide, so you can skip the mouthwash!