Contributing Factors To The Success Of An Athlete

Many factors contribute to the success of an athlete. For a runner, nutrition is one factor that can be controlled. However, nutrition is often a factor that is ignored and controversial. This paper centers on the importance of nutrition for high school endurance athletes/runners. Particularly for high school endurance athletes (ages 14-19 years), it is important to ensure good sport nutrition. Proper diet and nutrition is important for good health and can promote peak performances. Caution is encouraged as it is important to also exercise common sense when dealing with the proper nutritional needs for a high school endurance athlete.

There are many factors to consider when evaluating the proper diet for the competitive high school endurance athlete. For example, an athlete may ask; what should I eat before a competition or practice? Should I load up on carbohydrates or protein? How many calories should I eat every day? Should I take vitamins? Should I take supplements to help optimize performance? These are just a few of the important questions that an athlete may ask of a coach or parent.
This literature review examines the nutritional needs for the high school endurance athlete. The information presented will include facts related to a balanced diet for healthy endurance athletes. A balanced diet will include such as, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. Evidenced-Based Dietetics Practices that include the utilization of systematically reviewed scientific evidence are included as strategies to utilize when making decisions related to food and nutrition.

Sample nutritional plans are demonstrated throughout the paper along with advice regarding what types of foods and whether supplements can offer benefits to fuel the body of an endurance athlete to accomplish peak performances. Although no nutritional plan will meet the needs of all athletes, the plan will serve as a guide based on research from professional experts' materials in the field of nutrition and exercise. 'There's no such thing as perfection with eating,' says Leslie Bonci, 2010, the director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. 'So, instead of making perfect eating your goal, instead the goal should be: Eat the food that makes you feel good on your runs.'
Literature Review:
Similar to vehicles, our bodies require the proper fuel in order to perform at maximum potential. Athletes, including runners, need to eat foods that consist of carbohydrates, moderate levels of protein, and are low in fat. An effective coach is aware of the importance of these nutrients and the impact of each on peak performance.
Endurance athletes expend large amounts of energy resulting in greater demands for energy producing calories. Calorie demands for each individual athlete are unique to that individual. The differences in calorie demands are related to age, gender, body composition, training regimen, and over-all daily activities. The importance of breaking this information down may come in the form of daily calorie intake for off season and for the in season when the athlete will be training at a higher intensity.
The more serious runner will train through a periodization which will involve different types of training. The training will vary from easy training to more intense. The athlete should recognize that the nutritional needs may change throughout the year. According to a study by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, heavy training and racing cycles, you should avoid extreme changes in weight. Smaller athletes in light training may need fewer than 1,600 calories per day; larger athletes and those in training may need well over 5,000 calories per day. Calories should come from a variety of sources. Have a sound nutrition program that meets your energy and weight goals during the early phases of training; this will prepare you for the rigors of heavy training that precede race day.

The endurance runner needs to pay particular attention to eating habits, in order to prevent running out of energy at practice. As coaches and athletes work together to identify appropriate nutritional demands, one fact to remember is that the caloric demands for boys will likely be different than girls. 'Boys tend to weigh more and burn about 20 more calories per mile more than girls. High school runners need 500 more calories per day than nonathletic counterparts. That's at least 2,800 per day for athletic boys (as opposed to 2,300 for sedentary boys), and at least 2,400 for athletic girls (versus 1,900 for inactive girls.' (Coleman, R.D., 1988)
In a more recent study by the Department of Physiology and Biochemistry at the University School of Physical Education in Krakow, Portland examined that nutrition is one of the main factors influencing performance. The study determined that a well-balanced diet is a key determinant of optimal biological development of young athletes. (2013)
The objective of the study was the diet of young medium and long distance runners. The methods was assessing the diet of 45 athletes (20 adolescent females and 25 adolescent males) specializing in medium and long distance running in the junior and young junior categories was performed by examining dietary records for 6 consecutive days. The study was conducted in October 2010 towards the low intensity of the yearly training cycles. The data collected was compared to norms for adolescent males and adolescent females engaging in rigorous physical activity.
The athletes participating in the research caloric intake for the males were 3569 kcal and 2654 kcal for the females. This was considerably lower than the norms proposed for this age, at 3900 kcal for adolescent males and 2900 kcal for adolescent females. The intake of protein and carbohydrates was lower than the recommended norms. The conclusion of the study found athletes participating in the research did not follow the recommendation of nutritional experts. Therefore, a lack of appropriate balance in their diets meant that their intake of energy was too low to meet the expenditure from daily training and participation in sports.

Carbohydrates provide fuel for most endurance athletes. Carbohydrates are easily digested and are quickly used by the body. Including an adequate quantity of carbohydrates in the endurance athlete's diet can prevent early fatigue and injury. For high intensity exercise carbohydrates are the primary fuel. 'Carbohydrates increase energy because of the extra store of carbohydrates in the muscle and liver, called glycogen. Work completed in the early 1980's by David Costill at Ball State University showed that if athletes did not consume a diet high in carbohydrates on a daily basis, they would experience chronic fatigue and poor performance.
It is important for coaches to understand the role of carbohydrates in reaching maximum athletic performance. According to Burton, RD, MPH (2010) in Nutrition for the Endurance Runner, 'glycogen is the body's storage form of carbohydrates. If muscle glycogen breakdown exceeds its replacement, glycogen stores become depleted. The results are fatigue and inability to maintain glycogen stores, so the endurance runner's diet needs to be carbohydrate 'rich.'
Coaches may provide a guide to athletes in order for athletes to more fully understand the role of carbohydrates. Burton suggest to determine the amount of carbohydrates that's right for an athlete, multiply weight in pounds by 3.2 to reach the number of grams of carbohydrates that should be consumed per day.
Burton continues to indicate that the best sources of carbohydrates are grain products such as bread, rice, cereal and pasta, as well as fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods. Athletes are encouraged to pay close attention to food labels because they tell how many grams of total carbohydrates are in a serving of food. Burton encourages endurance athletes to eat at least 6 servings of fruits and 6 servings of vegetables, and at least 5 servings of low-fat dairy foods.
True Sport Nutrition Guide is a 2013 publication that provides general guidelines to help optimize dietary intake for sports competitors. The information is scientific based and the contributing content comes from Jacqueline R. Berning, Ph.D., R.D., CSSD and Alicia Kendig, M.S., R.D., CSSD. The Sports Nutrition Guide states that consuming a carbohydrate snack within 30 minutes after training will allow the body to start replenishing glycogen stores in the body. Some examples of recovery carbohydrate snack ideas are cereal with milk, fruit and nonfat yogurt, pita and hummus, trail mix, chocolate milk (low-fat), and banana with peanut butter. Sport drinks can be beneficial to the recovery process because they are beverages that contain electrolytes and carbohydrates, not caffeine and other stimulants. Sport drinks should not be confused with 'energy drinks'. Energy drinks typically contain one or more stimulants and their carbohydrates concentration is usually greater than 10%.
A study in 2007 by the Journal of Sciences in the Nutritional Strategies to Optimize Training and Racing in Middle-Distance Athletes by Stellingwerf, T. and Boitb, K., ], found that athletes training and racing are dependent upon carbohydrate intake. A high carbohydrate diet should be consumed. To optimize acute recovery can be dependent upon immediate consumption of carbohydrate to maximize glycogen resynthesis rates. To optimize longer-term recovery, it is important to consume carbohydrates in conjunction with protein.
Protein is an important element because it is needed for muscle growth and repair. Everyday training will reduce muscle protein breakdown and protein loss in the body protein breakdown may occur during exercise, protein build-up is enhanced during the recovery and the effectiveness of protein syntheses is increased. Burton explains when muscle glycogen stores are high, protein contributes no more than 5% of the energy needed. However, when muscle glycogen stores are low, due to inadequate calorie and carbohydrate intake, protein is used for energy rather than for muscle growth and repair and may contribute as much as 10% of the energy needed for exercise. Such use of protein for fuel is expensive and inefficient.
According to True Sport Nutrition Guide (2013) proteins play a big role as a team player. Protein has always been a particularly popular nutrient with athletes because of its role of building and maintaining muscles. The nutrition guide goes to say that research shows that protein requirements are higher for athletes to aid in muscle repair and growth; most athletes are getting more than enough protein in their daily diets.
Burton expresses that the dietary protein requirements for athletes have been a subject of debate for years, particularly for strength and power athletes. However, protein is important to the endurance athlete as well. 'Contrary to popular belief, recent research suggests that endurance athletes may actually require more protein than their resistance training counterparts.'
(Fink, H, Mikesky, A, Burgoon, L., 2001) To support this statement, Burton states athletes need 50 % more protein than sedentary people. The protein consumption for the endurance athlete should contribute 12-15% of total calories per day. To figure out the amount for you, multiply your weight in pounds by 0.6 to calculate the number of grams of protein you should consume per day.
In 2007 The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition Research Committee approved the following seven points related to the intake of protein for healthy, exercising individuals. 1) Research supports individuals that exercise regularly require more dietary protein than sedentary people. 2) Protein intakes of 1.4-2.0 g/kg/day for physical active individuals is not only safe, but may improve the training adaptations to exercise. 3) When diet is balanced, protein intakes at this level are not harmful to kidney function or bone metabolism in, healthy, active persons. 4) It is possible for the active individual to consume daily protein requirements through a regular daily diet, supplemental protein in various forms can be a good way of ensuring adequate intake for athletes. 5) Different types and quality of protein can affect amino acid bioavailability following protein supplementation. 6) Timed protein intake is important of an overall exercise program, essential for proper recovery and immune function. 7) Under certain circumstances, specific amino acid supplements, such as branched-chain amino acids (BCAA's), may improve exercise performance and recovery from exercise.
Burton offers professional advice and state that good sources of protein include dairy products, fish, eggs, poultry, and lean meat because they contain essential amino acids and make complete proteins. Some other good sources of protein are tofu, nuts and dried beans. Coaches need to encourage athletes to read food labels. The endurance athlete should consume 3-5 servings per day. One serving of lean meat, fish or poultry is 3 ounces, roughly the size of a deck of cards.
An athlete's body requires adequate rest and nutrients in order to recover from practice or competition. The True Sport Nutrition Guide (2013) demonstrates that an important component of the recovery is consuming both carbohydrates and protein shortly after exercise to restore muscle glycogen and stimulate muscle protein synthesis. One strategy that may assist coaches and athletes in keeping the athletes properly fueled is the EAT guideline: Eat breakfast, Add carbohydrates and protein to post exercise meals, and Toss the supplements.
Although exercise does provide health benefits, it does not eliminate the health dangers related to eating a high fat diet. However, fat is one of the body's main sources for energy and endurance runners need energy. Fink, H. and Burgoon, A., in a 2001 publication Practical Application in Sports Nutrition evaluated that 'numerous studies have demonstrated that endurance training does indeed cause metabolic adaptations that enable the body to rely more heavily on fat metabolism for energy during exercise. This is an important adaptation because it decreases the drain on the body's somewhat limited carbohydrate reserves. However, the onset of fatigue during endurance training and competitions is not caused by exhausting the body's fat reserves; in most cases it is due to depletion of carbohydrate stores.'
How much fat should the high school endurance athlete consume? The Sport Nutrition Guide (2013) found that endurance athletes as well as all people should consume less than 30% of total calories from fat and less than 10 from saturated fat. If an athlete eats 3000 calories per day, then less than 90 of those calories should be from fat. Burton (2010) has evaluated that muscle glycogen is preferred over fat for fuel for high intensity exercise of long duration because fat breakdown cannot supply energy fast enough. In addition, fat takes longer to digest than carbohydrates and thus should be limited in pre-exercise meals. The Sport Nutrition Guide (2013) evaluated that many scientific studies regarding nutrition and endurance athletes provide evidence athletes that consume high-fat diets typically consume fewer calories from carbohydrates.
Moderate amounts of fat need to be consumed on a daily basis because it's important to obtain the essential fatty acids provided in food. Fink and Burgoon (2001) explain that endurance athletes, especially those trying to lose body fat often become focused on carbohydrates and lean protein sources, while attempting to minimize or eliminate fat intake. Athletes need to remember that fat is a healthy part of a daily diet. Essential fatty acids provide energy, help produce hormones in the body, surround all nerves contributing to proper nerve function, and aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants.

Bernig, R., PHD, and Kendig, M.S., R.D., (2013) have evaluated vitamins and minerals are (when not consumed in food form) are classified by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) as dietary supplements. There are many endurance athletes that feel they do not get the appropriate amount of vitamins and minerals in their daily diets. It appears that these athletes are on a mission to find the lasted diet or supplement to give them the edge on competition. Making wise food and beverage choices are crucial for peak performance and contribute to endurance and repair to injured tissue. A good working knowledge and understanding of foods that provide essential nutrients will aid in an athlete reaching their greatest potential.
The endurance athletes do have increased an energy need which is why this should give them more of an opportunity to obtain what they need through a well-balanced diet with a variety of foods. Bernig and Kendig (2013) continue to say that most sports medicine professionals agree that unless an individual has a nutrient deficiency, supplementation may not improve athletic performance. The athlete who takes a simple one-a-day type of vitamin or mineral that does not exceed the nutrient levels of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)/Dietary Reference Intake (DRI), is probably not doing any harm. It is highly recommended that an athlete consult a health care physician to make the determination whether vitamin and mineral supplementation is needed.
Fink, H. and Burgoon L., 2001 have evaluated that all vitamins and minerals are needed in adequate amounts of proper health and bodily functioning, a handful of vitamins and minerals are in the spotlight for endurance athletes: B vitamins, iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin E, sodium, and potassium. Williams, MH., 1989 in a publication Vitamin Supplementation and Athletic Performance, emphasizes the reason why B vitamins are important is because 'B vitamins, specifically thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin, are involved in energy production pathways and thus are required in higher amounts for athletes.' Telford, RD, Hahn, Sly, Cunningham, Bryant, and Smith in a 2003 publication foot strike is a major cause of hemolysis during running which explains the importance of iron. Iron is important because it is 'best known for aiding in the formation of compounds essential for transporting and utilizing oxygen (myoglobin and hemoglobin), and therefore critical for aerobic activities and endurance training.'
Calcium is widely known as a bone strengthening mineral. Fink and Burgoon, 2001 evaluated and found that research has shown that vitamins C and E actually work in concert with one another, enhancing each other's antioxidant properties. Sodium, one of the extracellular electrolytes, acts in conjunction with potassium, one of the intracellular electrolytes, to maintain proper fluid balance throughout the body during long-duration exercise.
Should the high school runner take supplements to help optimize performance? As mentioned above, the athlete should consult a physician to discuss that question as to the need. True Sport Nutrition Guide (2013) supports that dietary supplements are defined as products containing 'dietary ingredients' intended to supplement the diet. These include vitamins, minerals, amino acids, botanicals, herbs, and substances as enzymes, organ tissue and glandulars, metabolites, etc. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) DOES NOT approve any supplements including vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbals, and other botanical preparations for safety or efficacy (whether they work). A well-balanced diet and multi-purpose vitamin should be sufficient enough for the high school runner.
Fluid replacement is one of the most important nutritional concerns for an athlete, especially the high school distance runner. Fluid loss comes through the skin as we know as sweat. Approximately 60 percent of body weight is water. 'If this fluid is not replaced at regular intervals during practice or competition, it can lead to dehydration. A dehydrated athlete has a decreased volume of blood circulating through the body, and consequently:
' The amount of blood pumped with each heart beat decreases.
' Exercising muscle do not receive enough oxygen.
' Exhaustion sets in and the athlete's performance suffers.' (United States Anti-Doping Agency.2010)
It is best to prevent dehydration by consuming plenty of fluids before, during, and after a workout. Adequate fluid replacement helps maintain hydration and, therefore, promotes the health, safety, and optimal physical performance of individuals participating in regular physical activity was determined in a comprehensive review and interpretation of scientific literature by the American College of Sports Medicine in 1996.
Based on the available scientific evidence the American College of Sports Medicine, the recommendation of the amount of composition of fluids that should be ingested in preparation for, during, and after exercise or athletic competition: 1) It is recommended that individuals consume a nutritionally balanced diet and drink adequate fluids during the 24-hr period before an event, especially during the period that includes the meal prior to exercise, to promote proper hydration before exercise or competition. 2) It is recommended that individuals drink about 500 ml (about 17 ounces) of fluid about 2 hours before exercise to promote adequate hydration and allow time for excretion of excess ingested water. 3) During exercise, athletes should start drinking early and at regular intervals in an attempt to consume fluids at a rate sufficient to replace all the water lost through sweating (i.e., body weight loss), or consume the maximal amount that can be tolerated. 4) It is recommended that ingested fluids be cooler than ambient temperature [between 15 degrees and 22 degrees C (59 degrees and 72 degrees F])] and flavored to enhance palatability and promote fluid replacement. Fluids should be readily available and served in containers that allow adequate volumes to be ingested with ease and with minimal interruption of exercise. 5) Addition of proper amounts of carbohydrates and/or electrolytes to a fluid replacement solution is recommended for exercise events of duration greater than 1 hour since it does not significantly impair water delivery to the body and may enhance performance.

Practical Application:
As a coach it is important to make certain that athletes are informed of the proper nutrition and diet regimen that can help keep them healthy and support peak performances. Although most coaches are not certified nutritionists, it is vital for all coaches to know the basics and to seek professional assistance when necessary. This literature review intends to provide coaches, parents, and athletes with basic nutritional information while pointing toward certified nutritionists and research based guidelines for answers to specific nutritional needs.
When applying this information to a high school running program the general nutrition advice could be broken down into 3 major components, calories, food choices, and proteins and fats. In order to keep the application simple and easy to follow, coaches may encourage athletes to follow the simple rule of consuming around 60% carbohydrates, 20% protein, and 20% fats.
It may be important for the serious runner to keep track of calories and that could be done by downloading a program called myfitnesspal onto a computer or smartphone. The application will allow the athlete to keep track of all foods consumed throughout the day. The program will count calories and will break down carbohydrates, proteins, fats, etc. This could be very useful so the athlete and parents can keep track of nutritional needs.
It should be suggested for athletes to break up their daily meals into smaller meals and healthy snacks every several hours. The research above emphasizes that timing is important of when to consume the carbohydrates and proteins. The runner may want to plan ahead of time and come up with a system that best fits into their own schedule. This it will help maintain a constant supply of energy and maintain blood sugar throughout the day. Choosing foods wisely may be a huge factor into the process of proper nutrition. A list of these foods could be broken down as follows:
Spinach, whole grain cereals/breads, salmon, sweet potatoes, kiwi fruit, lean beef, brown rice, fortified soy milk.
Cola, low-fat candy, Kool-Aid/fake juices, pretzels, low fat cookies, iceberg lettuce, and white rice/breads.
Pork rinds, high-fat candy (most bars), doughnuts, lard, french fries (anything fried), fried chicken, high-fat meats (pork ribs)
(Eat Right to Train Right by Chris Carmichael)
Good foods for pre-comp:
High Carbohydrates, moderate protein, and low fat.
Examples: Pasta, rice, potatoes, sandwiches, bagels, oatmeal, cereals, certain fruits
Bad Foods for Pre-competition:
High fat, and/or protein low carbohydrate, low calorie
Examples: Steak, bacon, sausage, ice cream, certain salads, diet soft drinks
Following a workout or competition the research suggested helping the body re-synthesize liver, and muscle glycogen stores. It is also important to replace fluids within a certain amount of time for the athletes. Examples of Good Post 'Exercise carbohydrate:

1 Liter of Gatorade= 66 grams
1 Large Potato= 50 grams
Lima Beans= 50 grams
10 dried dates= 50 grams
English muffin= 130grams
1 cup of rice= 50 grams
2/3 cup of raisins=
A menu designed for calorie needs of a male runner. Girls should subtract about 400 calories.
Breakfast: Morning Snack:
Total calories:721 calories Total Calories: 210
1 cup of iron-fortified cereal, such as Total: 110 calories 8 oz. of Blueberry Yogurt
8 ounces of 2-percent milk: 121 calories
1 banana: 110 calories
1 slice of whole-wheat toast: 70 calories
2 tablespoons of peanut butter: 200 calories
8-ounce glass of orange juice: 110 calories
Lunch: Pre-run snack:
Total calories: 764 calories Total Calories:200 calories
2 slices of wheat bread: 160 calories 2 oz. of Pretzels
4 ounces of turkey: 200 calories
1 ounce of Swiss cheese: 110 calories Post-run Snack
1 ounce of 2% cottage cheese: 90 calories Total Calories: 80
1 1/2 cups of cantaloupe: 94 calories 1 apple
8 ounces of apple juice: 110 calories.
Dinner: Evening snack:
Total calories: 602 calories Total Calories: 200
8 ounces of cheese ravioli with meat: 500 calories 2 oz. of pretzels
2 stalks of fresh broccoli: 102 calories more water, if you're thirsty
2 glasses or more of water
Total Calories for day: 2,777
(Kuehls, Dave, 2007)
An effective coach will ensure that each athlete understands his or her nutritional needs. Nutrition is what drives our bodies and constantly teaching the importance of nutrition is very important to the success of the athletes. Realizing that most coaches are not experts in the field of nutrition, coaches are encouraged to direct athletes to a certified nutritionist for specific questions, and research based guidelines may be used to support a basic understanding of nutritional demands.
Guidelines for Fluid Replacement
The following guidelines for maintaining body fluid balance, improving performance in the heat, and preventing heat-related illness appear to be prudent based on current scientific knowledge.
' For intense training and long workouts, a fluid replacement drink containing carbohydrates may provide an important source of energy. A 6-8 percent carbohydrate beverage is typically most effective in maintaining fluid balance while supplying the muscles with fuel.
' The fluid consumed during activity should contain a small amount of sodium and electrolytes. The sodium may be beneficial for quicker absorption.
' The beverage should be palatable and taste good.
' The athlete should drink 10-16 ounces of cold fluid about 15-30 minutes before workouts. If the workout is prolonged, add carbohydrates to the beverage at a 6-8 percent concentration.
' Drink 4-8 ounces of cold fluid during exercise at 15-20 minute intervals.
' Start drinking early in the workout because thirst does not develop until 2 percent of body weight has been lost, by which time performance may have begun to decline.
' Avoid carbonated drinks, which can cause GI distress and may decrease the volume of fluid consumed.
' Avoid beverages containing caffeine, alcohol, and those promoted as 'energy drinks.'
' If you have never used a fluid replacement drink, don't use it for the first time during a game or on race day. Practice consuming fluids while training. Use a trial and error approach until you discover the fluids that work well for you. (

Nutrition is critical for high school runners to reach peak performances. The athletes, parents, and coaches all need to realize that making wise nutritional choices can help increase the chances of optimal athletic performances. It is important for everyone involved not to fall prey to misinformation and fad diets in the search for a quick fix to run faster. It is important to stay current on proper nutrition because it is ever-changing. It is important for coaches to engage in professional development and increase awareness of the current nutritional needs for the endurance runner.
Carbohydrates, protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals are the major components to remember when following a well-structured plan for optimal nutrition for the endurance runner. Hydration and knowing when to replenish fluids into the body are key factors for the high school runner. Using common sense and staying well informed and seeking professional advice is the best policy when it comes to nutrition.
It is best to remember that not one plan fits everyone. It may take some experimenting to figure out what works best for an individual athlete. Coaches are encouraged to make nutrition an important part of their program because adequate nutrition is required for any athlete to reach maximum performance. Specific questions regarding nutritional requirements are to be directed to a certified nutritionist. However, coaches now rely upon research based strategies and guidelines in order to provide athletes with a basic understanding of nutritional needs.

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