Relevant aspects of food long-term events athletes. A systematic review

Aspectos relevantes na alimentação de atletas de provas de longa duração. Uma revisão sistemática

Aspectos relevantes en la alimentación de corredores de pruebas de larga duración. Una revisión sistemática


*Student of Nutrition Course - Health Sciences Centre

University of Vale do Itajaí - UNIVALI, Santa Catarina

**Nutritionist. Specialist in Clinical Nutrition and Sports Nutrition

***Nutritionist. Master in Nutrition from the Federal University of Santa Catarina – UFSC

Doctorate in Pharmaceutical Sciences from UNIVALI

Professor of the Health Sciences Center UNIVALI

****Nutritionist. Master in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University

of Vale do Itajaí - UNIVALI (2013). Doctorate in Pharmaceutical Sciences

from UNIVALI. Professor of the Health Sciences Center UNIVALI

Izabella Imianovsky*

Mariane Caroline Meurer*

Mariá Barboza**

Luciane Angela Nottar Nesello***


Roseane Leandra da Rosa****








          This is a review article, which aims to point out the main aspects to be observed in food terms of long-term tests athletes are known to athletes and people who practice such activities require a greater contribution than people who do not practice any physical exercise. To have a good physical performance athletes need adequate energy stocks during activity or even assistance with ergogenic aid to provide enough energy to do it. Maintaining high levels of muscle glycogen is extremely important, especially in high performance sports athletes, where maximum performance is required constantly. Carbohydrate intake should be done before, during and after physical activity. Every moment, for the financial year, has a specific goal. It is recognized that the fluid loss, there is no resetting, causes decrease in performance. Sold in pharmacies and specialty shops, food supplements provide nutrients, vitamins and other substances the body in situations where the supply is unable to meet the needs adequately.

          Keyword: Sport. Nutrition. Resistance. Fatigue. Food.



          Trata-se de um artigo de revisão, que tem como objetivo pontuar os principais aspectos a serem observados no plano alimentar de atletas de provas de longa duração Sabe-se que atletas e pessoas que praticam tais atividades, necessitam de um aporte maior do que pessoas que não praticam nenhum exercício físico. Para ter um bom desempenho físico os atletas necessitam de estoques energéticos adequados durante a atividade ou mesmo o auxílio com recurso ergogênico para fornecer quantidade suficiente de energia para realizá-la. A manutenção de concentrações elevadas de glicogênio muscular é extremamente importante, principalmente em atletas de esportes de alto rendimento, onde o desempenho máximo é exigido constantemente. A ingestão de carboidratos deve ser feita antes, durante e após a atividade física. Cada momento, em relação ao exercício, tem um objetivo específico. É reconhecido que a perda de líquido, sem que exista reposição, acarreta queda no desempenho. Vendidos em farmácias e lojas especializadas, os suplementos alimentares fornecem nutrientes, vitaminas e outras substâncias ao organismo em situações em que a alimentação não é capaz de suprir as necessidades de forma adequada.

          Unitermos: Esporte. Nutrição. Resistência. Fatigue. Alimentação.


Reception: 08/26/2015 - Acceptance: 10/30/2015


EFDeportes.com, Revista Digital. Buenos Aires, Año 20, Nº 210, Noviembre de 2015. http://www.efdeportes.com/

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    Participation in sports competitions by the general population has increased greatly. Among these competitions, which arouse greater fascination are called long distance events (Ferreira; Brooks & Smith, 2001).

    It is known that athletes and people who practice such activities, require a higher amount when compared to people who do not practice any physical exercise. The nutritional interventions for these practitioners aims to prevent the loss of lean mass, ensuring the proper body composition for the sport and avoid the occurrence of possible nutritional deficiencies that may interfere with the performance (Williams, 2009; Kreider, 2010).

    To have a good physical performance athletes need adequate energy stocks during activity or even assistance with ergogenic aid to provide enough energy to do it. To maintain or increase muscle glycogen stores during periods of training, a diet is required with high amount of carbohydrates (Biesek; Alves & War, 2005; Fontan & Amadio, 2015).

    Another important aspect to be evaluated in feeding the athletes are the micronutrients, as the intense physical exercise increases the formation of reactive oxygen species that can cause muscle injuries and damage in the membrane of red blood cells, impairing athletic performance. (Kouryl & Donangeloll, 2003; Carvalho et al., 2013).

    In addition, proper hydration during physical activity recreational or competitive nature can ensure that the expected performance is reached and prevent health problems. Procedures to ensure it require knowledge of factors that influence when and how much drinking water and electrolytes (Hernandes & Nahas, 2009).

    In general, dietary ducts have as fundamental adequate daily supply of calories and nutrients, and a water intake and energy before, during and after the training and competition. As a result, the effectiveness of different manipulations of diet on maximizing performance and muscle recovery in endurance sports has been examined by several authors (Volek, 2004; Drummond, 2009).

    In this regard, physical activity can produce long-lasting hypoglycaemia, fatigue, dehydration, micronutrients deficit, production of free radicals and depletion of glycogen (Carvalho et al., 2013). Thus, if an adequate nutritional management to assist in the athlete's results and prevent that their performance is affected is required. Thus, the aim of this review is to score the main aspects to be observed in food terms of long-term tests athletes.


    This research consists of a review, where researched articles met in databases: SciELO (Scientific Electronic Library Online), PubMed, Portal Capes Lates published in the periods between 2000 and 2015. The key words used in the Descriptors Health Sciences were: endurance, sports nutrition and ergogenic resources. We analyzed 40 articles and of these, 09 were selected.

Macronutrients, fatigue and physical performance

    The energy expenditure for different types of exercise depends on the duration, frequency and intensity of physical activity, the athlete's gender, heredity, age, body size, fat-free mass and their nutritional status prior to exercise. The performance is compromised when there is inadequate intake relative to energy expenditure affecting the benefits of training. When power is limited, the body uses fat and lean mass as fuel. The use of lean mass and consequently their loss results in decreased strength and endurance, and compromises the immune, endocrine and functions of the muscular system (ADA, 2009).

    Maintaining high levels of muscle glycogen is extremely important, especially in athletes of high performance sports where maximum performance is constantly required (Silva; Miranda & Liberali, 2008). In addition, the build-up of muscle and liver glycogen stores after exercise is critical to the performance on subsequent days (Flores & Mattos, 2011).

    Based on the Brazilian Society macronutrient recommendations of Sports Medicine (SBME) (2009) for long-term sports the amount of total kilocalories is from 3000 to 5000 kcal/day, carbohydrates 60-70% and during training 30 to 60g for every hour of exercise, 1.2 to 1.6 g protein/kg body weight, lipids 30%.

    According to Sousa and Navarro (2010) a high-carbohydrate diet (70% of dietary energy) and high levels of glycogen stores seem to improve performance in endurance activities compared with a normal glicidic diet (approximately 50%) and a low-carbohydrate (approximately 10%).

    The consumption of food and fluids with carbohydrates and electrolytes, should be done before, during and after exercise to help maintain blood glucose concentration during exercise, maximize performance, provide fuel for the muscles, decrease the risk of dehydration and improve recovery time (ADA, 2009).

    For Foskett et al. (2008), glucose intake, based on carbohydrate solutions before and during exercise increases endurance capacity as well, a diet high in carbohydrates after prolonged exercise increases the stocks of muscle and liver glycogen, increasing the ability to perform exercise when compared with the use of a normal mixed diet.

    The feeding before exercise enables an improvement in performance compared to exercise on an empty stomach. In this meal the food should be relatively low in fat and fiber to minimize gastrointestinal discomfort and facilitate gastric emptying, moderate in protein and high in carbohydrates to keep serum glucose and maximize glycogen stores (ADA, 2009).

    Corroborating these data, Seixas et al. (2011) compared the differences in glycemic behavior, VO2, yield and performance halls adults with and without fasting of a street running group and concluded that the intake of carbohydrates pre -Training provided increased VO2 max of participants with improved performance and efficiency, as it allowed the maintenance of blood glucose levels and this in turn preserved the muscle and liver glycogen, reducing the feeling of effort and reducing the fatigue of the cerebral nerve center engine.

    In prolonged and intense exercise, carbohydrate intake during exercise improves performance, can delay fatigue and prevent the fall in glycemia after two hours of exercise. Moreover, athletes these arrangements require the appropriate power consumption for weight maintenance, health and maximizing the effect of training (ADA, 2009).

    For Sousa and Navarro (2010), to avoid fatigue, carbohydrate intake should be done before, during and after physical activity. Every moment, for the financial year, has a specific goal. The use of carbohydrate pre-exercise aims to start the activity with a maximized reserves of glycogen and a good blood glucose. For it is to sustain performance and the intensity of activity, keeping blood glucose and preserving stocks of muscle and liver glycogen and post-exercise intends to recover glycogen stores. A mixture of glucose, fructose and sucrose have proven effective in maintaining the performance and exercise intensity. These practices are effective for high intensity activities, long-term with mild to moderate and high intensity exercise for about 01 hours.

    Regarding post exercise diet, the restoration of muscle glycogen stores is probably the most important factor in determining the time needed for recovery. Depending on the extent of depletion of glycogen and sufficient carbohydrate intake, muscle glycogenic replacement may occur within 24 hours. Some authors state that the combination of carbohydrates and protein is more effective than just carbohydrates the replenishment of muscle glycogen during the first 4 hours after exercise. However, other authors suggest that the carbohydrates are provided properly, adding protein will not bring benefits in the recovery of muscle glycogen (Ivy et al., 2002; Jentjens & Jeukendrup, 2003).

    Flowers and Mattos (2011) to evaluate the intake of soccer players of macronutrients, found that the consumption of lipids and proteins were within the recommendation advocated by SBME, however carbohydrate intake was lower than recommended, and the total energy, this factor becomes of concern in view of the relevance of these suitable for the athlete's performance.

    Corroborating the findings of the authors mentioned above, Santos et al. (2011) studied the nutritional intake profile runners middle distance (800 m to 1000 m) and found that carbohydrate intake was below the recommendations, which can affect the ability for high intensity workout hurting the recovery. In relation to the protein consumption when made relative to the body weight, the results were different, these being very high, which can have an adverse effect on performance since it prevents the adequate consumption of carbohydrates.

    Sat et al. (2011) analyzed the influence of a carbohydrate solution during a football game. It was offered to athletes 500 ml of carbohydrate solution to 6%, and consists of maltodextrin, a high glycemic index carbohydrate, but at the same time is a complex carbohydrate, which causes the glucose passes into the bloodstream more slowly . It was found that blood glucose remained high at the end of the game, in addition to reducing the weight loss percentage suggesting thereby that the consumption of water containing carbohydrate can be a strategy for maintaining blood glucose and water balance, avoiding fatigue and improving performance.

Hydration and physical exercise

    Proper hydration is one that can keep the level of hydration during exercise, as the ideal is to hydrate with the same speed as dehydrates, however, the difficulty is due to limitations in the frequency of intake, gastric emptying and intestinal absorption. It is recognized that the fluid loss, there is no resetting, causes decrease in performance when the individual dehydrates at 2% of their body mass (Cardoso et al., 2013). For SBME (2009) dehydration increases the stress of exercise, raising the body temperature, damaging physiological reactions and yield.

    The water recommendations depend on the type of activity and individual factors (physical fitness, age, environmental stress, among others). When 1% to 2% dehydration, starts the increase in body temperature up to 0.4ºC per subsequent dehydration percentage; and around 3% there are already significant reduction in performance. In larger percentage (4-6%), the consequences become more severe and there, including the risk of thermal shock, coma and death (Hernandez and Nahas, 2009).

    In a study by Cardoso et al. (2013) evaluated the street running athletes hydration levels after the practice of sport, the results showed that the dehydration of 2.14% of body weight affects performance in 12.5% overall run time.

    In the study by Baganha et al. (2011) with cyclists found that the practice of 60 minutes of indoor cycling performed at 65-80% of maximum heart rate caused dehydration equivalent to 1.3% of body mass, concluding that 60 minutes of this activity is not sufficient to alter the hydration levels significantly.

    In intermittent activities over an hour long and high intensity, such as football, pure water consumption can bring some disadvantages, like the fact of not containing sodium and carbohydrate and because it is tasteless, it favors involuntary dehydration, ie, that found when comparing the hydration water with the flavored beverages, and hindering the electrolyte balancing process (SBME, 2009).

    In the study by Sab et al. (2011) suggested the need for nutritional intervention for football players analyzed to develop a fluid replacement strategy, since dehydration can compromise performance. One of the above options is the use of carboidratadas drinks provided before and at halftime to be strategies that contribute to avoid the signs resulting from dehydration.

Micronutrient, supplement and performance

    Physical exercise increases the production of ROS, which may lead to oxidative stress, so many antioxidant supplements are used to try to avoid it, although the number of studies showing significant results of this supplementation is very small. Inadequate intake of food supplements or antioxidants can prevent metabolic and physiological adaptations to exercise (Szuck et al., 2011).

    Sold in pharmacies and specialty shops, food supplements provide nutrients, vitamins and other substances the body in situations where the supply is unable to meet the needs adequately. The use of multivitamins is very common among athletes, and this is unnecessary when you have a balanced diet even in athletes performing intense workout (Corrêa & Navarro, 2014).

    According to SBME (2009), some studies show that isolated or combined intake of vitamins A, C, E, copper, zinc and coenzyme Q10 through regulatory mechanisms produce antioxidant effects. However, supplementation is indicated in cases that supply these nutrients in the diet, it is insufficient only for high-performance athletes. High doses can be harmful and not have the expected effects.

    Santos, Silva and Gadelho (2011) evaluated the nutritional intake of middle-distance runners and observed vitamin D deficit, which is common in athletes. When such a deficiency identified in addition to the increased sun exposure, vitamin D3 supplementation form is advised to maintain a serum concentration varying between 75 to 80 nmol/L of 25-hydroxy-vitamin D (Willis; Petersen & Larson-Meyer, 2008).

    The B vitamins are important for physical activity, as they participate in a fundamental way in the power generation process, however, studies involving supplementation of these nutrients in athletes and sportsmen have shown some promising results (Tirapegui, 2005).

    Selenium, an important cofactor of glutathione peroxidase, a key enzyme in the attenuation of oxidative stress, it is now even more important for its ability to protect against the toxicity caused by contaminants methylmercury many fish from our diet (Ralston & Raymond, 2010).

    Zinc is an essential nutrient with biological role in antioxidant protection, especially in related to cell membranes, rather requested during intense physical activity. According Koury and Donangelo (2003) there are no reports in the literature of possible beneficial effects of supplementation in antioxidant protection of athletes. The excess zinc supplementation (50 mg/day) can inhibit copper from the diet absorption (Lukaski, 1995).

    Currently for each study provides positive effects, there are other equally compelling, with negative effects of antioxidant supplementation therefore definitive conclusions are complicated by variations population, timing and dosage of antioxidants used (Pereira, 2013).


    It is well established in the literature the importance of carbohydrate intake before, during and after physical activity long-term. Besides helping the athlete's performance and optimize their results, the consumption of this macronutrient, prevents damage to the health of it. The protein intake associated with carbohydrate is still not very clear, but seems to help the replenishment of muscle glycogen.

    The use of dietary supplements, especially of micronutrients, is quite common in athletes. However, one should exercise caution when administering them, since the literature is quite controversial about its real benefits, so it is suggested that future work be done to prove their effectiveness. In general, the integrated Nutritionist work and physical educator is of paramount importance to improve and enhance the performance of long-term athlete.


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