Aside from training, nutrition may be the most important influence on athletic performance. However, in seeking a competitive edge, athletes are often susceptible to fad diets or supplements that have not been scientifically validated. Nevertheless, there is quite a bit of useful research to guide the exerciser toward optimum health and performance.
Other than lifestyle changes, dietary changes may be helpful for most athletes. Calorie requirements for athletes depend on the intensity of their training and performance. An athlete who trains to exhaustion on a daily basis needs more fuel than the one who performs a milder regimen two or three times per week.
Carbohydrate is the most efficient fuel for energy production and can also be stored as glycogen in muscle and liver, functioning as a readily available energy source for prolonged strenuous exercise. Nutritional supplements are helpful to many athletes who do not eat an optimal diet, especially when they are trying to control their weight while training strenuously. For such athletes a daily allowance of vitamins and minerals may be beneficial. Most research has demonstrated that regular strenuous exercise increases production of free radicals that are harmful to muscle tissue and result in inflammation and soreness. Antioxidants such as Vitamins C and E neutralize free radicals before they can damage the body. Adding a B-Complex vitamin to the list of vitamins benefits the athlete because this helps to produce energy from carbohydrates.
L-Carnitine, which is normally manufactured by the human body, has been a popular nutrient as a potential ergogenic aid because of its role in the conversion of fat into to energy.
High intakes of Amino acid such as L-Arginine and L-Ornithine have shown to increase growth hormone levels something of interest to body builders. Whey protein, a dairy based source or amino acids is a high quality source of protein.
NADH (nicotinaminde adenine dinucleotide) helps make ATP in the body, which is the energy source the body runs on. NADH may also help people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS).