Nutrition Science & the Olympics

Welcome to Sports Nutrition! Science is a powerful asset for athletes who want to use nutrition to their advantage. Whether an Olympic medal is won by tenths of a second in a ski race, decimal points in a figure skating competition, or goals in an ice hockey game, an athlete's nutritional status makes a critical difference in reaching peak performance.This course explores the science of sports nutrition and shows how to apply nutrition principles to benefit an athlete's training and performance.

Fueling & Cooling Olympic Athletes

Just as high performing race cars require fuel and coolant, maintaining energy, fluid, and nutrient balance are essential goals for Olympic athletes. Consistency is essential -- nutrition needs to be addressed throughout months and often years of athletic training as well as before and during competitive events. Energy and fluid needs may differ dramatically between days of physical training and days of competition. How much foods and fluids to consume? What type? When to eat and drink? Athletes deal with these questions daily. Scientific studies conducted in laboratories and on the field, the snow, and the ice rink provide answers. For specifics, visit the Fuel Movement & Sport and Eat for Performance sections.

Nutrition & Training are Team Players

Nutrition and physical training are connected -- long term athletic success depends on meeting day-to-day nutritional needs. For example, maintaining optimal hydration status and sufficient muscle glycogen stores delays the onset of fatigue and enables athletes to train longer before tiring. Also, although the stress of exercise training stimulates physiological improvement, adaptations to physical stress actually occurs in the recovery period following the exercise sessions. Satisfying an athlete's needs for rehydrating, refueling, and rest are essential components of the recovery process. Check out the Physiology and Psychology section for more information on the physiological aspects of exercise training.

Nutrition & Sport Focus

Although sport nutrition basics are similar for all athletes, important differences exist for individual athletes in various sports. The focus here is on the nutritional needs of selected endurance sports and strength/power sports. One of these sports, women's ice hockey, has its debut as a medal sport in the 1998 Winter Olympics!

The effects of exercise intensity and duration, training, nutrition status, and gender on fuel use during exercise are examined in Fuel Movement & Sport. What, how much, and when to eat are addressed in Eat for Performance. Athlete Profiles focuses on physical aspects, exercise training, nutrition recommendations, and sample menus for these five representative athletes in three sports:

 

Athlete

Type of Sport

Cross country skier (male & female) Endurance
Figure skater, singles competition (female) Strength/power
Ice hockey (male & female) Strength/power

 

There's More to Eating than Science

Food is fun as well as fuel! Along with the science of sport nutrition, the pleasures and social aspects of eating and the good taste of favorite and familiar foods are factors that influence elite athletes in their food and fluid choices. Just like anyone, Olympic athletes deserve to eat well and enjoy the foods and fluids they select for fueling exercise and sport. Time, travel, food availability, and tight budgets are additional factors that influence food choices and the times when food is consumed. Sports nutrition guidance must meet the demands of exercise and be enjoyable, affordable, and flexible so that athletes will stick with it and gain the improvements they seek. Nutrition at the Olympics gives you an inside view of how athletes are fueled at the Olympic Village and a look at nutrition questions asked by Olympic athletes at the 1996 Summer Games.

Unit 1:
Fuel Movement
& Sport

Introduction

Muscle contraction

Fast & slow fibers

Energy: How & where is it stored?

How far can a person run?

What fuels are used for exercise?

When is each fuel used?

Intensity

Duration

Training

Nutrition

Gender

References


Unit 2:
Eat for
Performance

Introduction

Energy balance

Fluid balance

Fueling cycle

What can foods and fluid do for you?

Athlete's eating plan

Calorie goals

Calorie values

Food processing takes time

Carbohydrate goals

Protein goals

Fat goals

Vitamins & minerals

Your nutrition numbers

Sports drinks

References


Unit 3:

Athlete Profiles

Unit 4:

Nutrition at the Olympics

Additional
Information
:

Food Guide Pyramid 

Resources

Credits

Course Objectives

About the Author


Winter Olympics Course Outline Comments Questions
 

April, 1998, Montana State University-Bozeman