Food selection for endurance sports

Linda Houtkooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Key Points: 1) The body requires at least 40 nutrients that are classified into six groups: protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamin, mineral, and water. These nutrients cannot be made in the body and so they must be supplied from solid or liquid foods. 2) Fat, carbohydrate, and protein contain energy that is measured in units called kilocalories. Alcohol also contains kilocalories, but is not a recommended energy source for endurance exercise. 3) Foods in endurance sports training programs should provide adequate fluids to prevent dehydration; energy intake that is high in carbohydrate, low in fat, adequate in protein, and that maintains desirable body weight and desirable proportions of fat and lean weight; and sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals. 4) Six categories of food types form the fundamentals of good diets for endurance exercise training and include: fruits, vegetables, grains-legumes, lean meats, low-fat milk products, and fats-sweets. Vegetarian diets include all food type categories except meat and/or milk products. 5) Fat and carbohydrate content of foods in each food type category varies greatly because of how foods are prepared. 6) The Food Pyramid and Sports Food Swap are guides for selecting foods that provide recommended amounts of essential nutrients for endurance exercise. 7) Before, during, and after endurance exercise, food intake should include adequate amounts of easily digestible, high carbohydrate foods that are familiar and psychologically satisfying. 8) Easily digestible high carbohydrate liquid or solid foods should be eaten soon after exercise is stopped to maximize rates of glycogen replacement. 9) Dehydration can be prevented by adequate fluid intake before, during, and after exercise. 10) Any food plan should be tested before a competition to find out how well that plan works for an athlete.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S349-S355
JournalMedicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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