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Feeding patterns of endurance athletes


Feeding pattern was studied in 13 long distance runners, eight cyclists and eight sedentary men. The timing of the food and fluid intakes, the kind and the amount of food and fluids taken, the body weight (BW), and the exercise schedules were recorded on 3 or 4 successive days under ad libitum conditions of feeding and drinking. The subjects remained in energy and water balance, since the BW measured in the morning during the observation periods did not change significantly. The total caloric intake was 13 876 kJ per day in the runners and 26 282 kJ per day in the cyclists, exceeding the estimated basic metabolic rate by 103% and 250% respectively. The total water intakes were 33 and 36 ml·kg−1·24 h−1. The athletes consistently showed a nibbling pattern, characterized by frequent eating and drinking (average 8–10 per day). In the runners 63% of eating and drinking were synchronized, in the cyclists only 49% (p<0.01). In both groups drinking occurred most frequently in the morning, at noontime and in the evening. After 8 p.m. 45% of the total daily fluid intake occurred. In all likelihood the fluid intake followed an underlying circadian rhythm. The total intake frequency was determined by the total caloric needs.

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Supported by the Bundesinstitut für Sportwissenschaften, Köln

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Kirsch, K.A., von Ameln, H. Feeding patterns of endurance athletes. Europ. J. Appl. Physiol. 47, 197–208 (1981).

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Key words

  • Endurance athletes
  • Feeding patterns
  • Energy balance
  • Water balance