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Nutrition and Athletic Performance, ACSM Article Review

Written by Nick Seidel

BS Exercise and Sports Science

Texas State University 



I haven't done this in awhile, not since college actually. I have missed reading and reviewing articles. Why in the heck would Nick to the Plus write and article review when he doesn't have to for a class or get a grade, you ask? Nick to the Plus is always wanting to learn more while at the same time giving you some insight.


I picked the Article: "Nutrition and Athletic Performance" from Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise Magazine of the American College of Sports Medicine. ACSM is one of the most reputable organizations in sports and exercise concerning science and research. They also have many of the top professional certifications in the industry.


This article (outline and link is below) look at most all aspects of how nutrition can affect athletic performance. The main points I got from the article is how individualized and specific nutrition can get in athletics and how there are different needs for each sport and goal. It also discusses the balance between training intensities and volume with nutrition. There is much detail and good information if you have time to read the 25 page article, but the main points I want to argue is on micronutrients.


In the article it discusses the micronutrients of- Iron, Vitamin D, Calcium and antioxidants. Perhaps in one of my future article reviews I will look at why these "micronutrients" are brought up in many mainstream articles. What is not spoken about is that in my learning and research there are tens of thousands of micronutrients and or phytonutrients more specifically found in plants. As stated in this article from the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health- "Global assessment of select phytonutrient intake by level of fruit and vegetable consumption", world wide consumption of fruits and vegetables is down as well as what we get from them, phytonutrients. I also referenced this article from the BioMed Central Nutrition Journal "Apple Phytochemicals and their Health Benefits", this article is only talking about an Apple and what is in it and the health benefits.


What I concluded from reading the ACSM Nutrition and Athletic Performance and the other two articles is that the authors and society in large vastly overlook micronutrition. There are thousands of variations and types of fruits and vegetables out there. All fruits and vegetables have their own set of thousands of unique combinations of phytochemicals in them as in the apple. In most geographical areas, it is shows that most people consume less than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day and in a lot of cases much less if any. goes by cups but recommends for a boy 14-18 to have 2 cups of fruits and 3 cups or vegetables each day, whereas 1/2 cup represents one serving. For grownups more is recommended and even more if you are active...


I want to to bring up three areas of not getting enough nutrition from fruits and vegetables-

1. As stated above we don't eat enough of them.

2. The ground that they are grown is generally depleted of nutrients from over planting. 

3. Most produce is picked early and the "nutritional growth" of plants is in the later stages.

(I want you to think about this but I will discuss more in future blogs)


Back to my main point and argument of the ACSM Article on Nutrition and Athletic Performance; yes it is important to dial in periodized, custom and performance measured nutrition plans for athletes, but as in the general population and athletes as well are undernourished in micronutrients and phytonutrients. The athletes can fill the gas tank as specifically as they can with macronutrients, but if they don't get a wide variety of micronutrition the performance will degrade as stated in this article on Oxidative Stress


If you would like to know more about how to get more micronutrient and a wider variety of phytonutrients join our newsletter email or call 210.843.4130



Organization, Article and Outline information on- ACSM, Nutrition and Athletic Performance


"ACSM (American College and Sports Medicine) is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. With more than 50,000 members and certified professionals worldwide, ACSM is dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine."- From ACSM Website


This Article- Nutrition and Athletic Performance
Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:March 2016 - Volume 48 - Issue 3 - p 543–568



The past decade has seen an increase in the number and topics of publications of original research and review, consensus statements from sporting organizations, and opportunities for qualification and accreditation related to sports nutrition and dietetics. This bears witness to sports nutrition as a dynamic area of science and practice that continues to flourish in both the scope of support it offers to athletes and the strength of evidence that underpins its guidelines. Before embarking on a discussion of individual topics, it is valuable to identify a range of themes in contemporary sports nutrition that corroborate and unify the recommendations in this paper.


1. Nutrition goals and requirements are not static. Athletes undertake a periodized program in which preparation for peak performance in targeted events is achieved by integrating different types of workouts in the various cycles of the training calendar. Nutrition support also needs to be periodized taking into account the needs of daily training sessions (which can range from minor in the case of “easy” workouts to substantial in the case of high quality sessions (eg, high intensity, strenuous, or highly skilled workouts) and overall nutritional goals.


2. Nutrition plans need to be personalized to the individual athlete to take into account the specificity and uniqueness of the event, performance goals, practical challenges, food preferences, and responses to various strategies.


3. A key goal of training is to adapt the body to develop metabolic efficiency and flexibility while competition nutrition strategies focus on providing adequate substrate stores to meet the fuel demands of the event and support cognitive function.


4. Energy availability, which considers energy intake in relation to the energy cost of exercise, sets an important foundation for health and the success of sports nutrition strategies.


5. The achievement of the body composition associated with optimal performance is now recognized as an important but challenging goal that needs to be individualized and periodized. Care should be taken to preserve health and long term performance by avoiding practices that create unacceptably low energy availability and psychological stress.


6. Training and nutrition have a strong interaction in acclimating the body to develop functional and metabolic adaptations. Although optimal performance is underpinned by the provision of pro-active nutrition support, training adaptations may be enhanced in the absence of such support.


7. Some nutrients (eg, energy, carbohydrate, and protein) should be expressed using guidelines per kg body mass to allow recommendations to be scaled to the large range in the body sizes of athletes. Sports nutrition guidelines should also consider the importance of the timing of nutrient intake and nutritional support over the day and in relation to sport rather than general daily targets.


8. Highly trained athletes walk a tightrope between training hard enough to achieve a maximal training stimulus and avoiding the illness and injury risk associated with an excessive training volume.


9. Competition nutrition should target specific strategies that reduce or delay factors that would otherwise cause fatigue in an event; these are specific to the event, the environment/scenario in which it is undertaken, and the individual athlete.


10. New performance nutrition options have emerged in the light of developing but robust evidence that brain sensing of the presence of carbohydrate, and potentially other nutritional components, in the oral cavity can enhance perceptions of well-being and increase self-chosen work rates. Such findings present opportunities for intake during shorter events, in which fluid or food intake was previously not considered to offer a metabolic advantage, by enhancing performance via a central effect.


11. A pragmatic approach to advice regarding the use of supplements and sports foods is needed in the face of the high prevalence of interest in, and use by, athletes and the evidence that some products can usefully contribute to a sports nutrition plan and/or directly enhance performance. Athletes should be assisted to undertake a cost-benefit analysis of the use of such products and to recognize that they are of the greatest value when added to a well-chosen eating plan.








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