IOC: Food supplements can enhance athletic performance

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

Supplements, protein, carbs have all won IOC endorsement
Supplements, protein, carbs have all won IOC endorsement
Food supplements can boost athletic performance, according to new advice from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that marks an about face from earlier positions.

The Swiss organisation said, a very small number may enhance performance for some athletes” ​but did not go into specifics about what those supplements might be. Earlier advice from the IOC had warned athletes off food supplements as groups like the US Anti-Doping Agency do.

It said supplements must be, “used in accordance with current evidence under the guidance of a well-informed professional.”

“Athletes contemplating the use of supplements and sports foods should consider their efficacy, their cost, the risk to health and performance, and the potential for a positive doping test. Supplement use in young athletes should be discouraged, and the focus should be on consuming a nutrient-rich, well-chosen diet to allow for growth while maintaining a healthy body composition.”

The Olympic body added that supplementation does not compensate for, “poor food choices and an inadequate diet”.

“…but supplements that provide essential nutrients may be a short-term option when food intake or food choices are restricted due to travel or other factors.”

Vitamin D was singled out as being necessary where there was a lack of sunshine.

“Athletes should be particularly aware of their needs for calcium, iron and Vitamin D, but the use of large amounts of some micronutrients may be harmful.”

Protein and carbohydrates

The ability of protein to boost long-term gain and repair of muscle after exercise was mentioned along with carbohydrates to assist performance.

Ingestion of even small amounts of carbohydrate during exercise can enhance cognitive and physical performance in competition lasting one hour,”​ the IOC wrote in the guidance that can be found here.

“During high-intensity training, particularly of long duration, athletes should aim to achieve carbohydrate intakes that meet the needs of their training programs and also adequately replace carbohydrate stores during recovery between training sessions and competitions.”

Athletes also required more protein than non-athletes, the IOC wrote, with an emphasis on both during and post-training consumption.

“Foods or snacks that contain high-quality proteins should be consumed regularly throughout the day as part of the day’s total protein intake, and in particular soon after exercise, in quantities sufficient to maximise the synthesis of proteins, to aid in long-term maintenance or gain of muscle and bone and in the repair of damaged tissues.”

“Ingestion of foods or drinks providing 15-25 g of such protein after each training session will maximise the synthesis of proteins that underpins these goals.”

The importance of sodium and fluid replenishment was also emphasised by the IOC.

The protein advice was welcomed by Suzane Leser, the vice chair of the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance (ESSNA) and nutrition manager of Lifestyle Ingredients at UK whey supplier, Volac.

“The importance of consuming high quality protein at strategic points in the day has emerged since the last IOC Consensus Statement in 2003, and is now being recognised as key to athletic performance, alongside hydration and energy,”​ she said.

“The new Consensus will form the basis for nutritional guidance to athletes in the run up to London 2012 and this is great news for the whey protein industry, particularly as the IOC experts go further than EFSA in recognising that not all proteins are equal, and recommending that athletes consume those of high quality. This would include whey protein as it has one of the highest biological values.”

The Sports Nutrition 2011 Virtual Conference

NutraIngredients-USA is hosting a live one-day event called The Sports Nutrition 2011 Virtual Conference that will address some of these issues.

It takes place on Thursday, January 27, 2011 and will cover key topics presented by high-profile industry personalities from The Coca-Cola Company, the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), and Euromonitor International.

Find out more here.

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1 comment

Inaccurate quote

Posted by Roel Leerling, Dutch Nutraceutical Association,

"... but the use of large amounts of some micronutrients may be harmful.”
This statement is accurate as far as isolated are meant, but inaccurate when taking whole food-based supplements.

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