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Numerous nutritional products are marketed with claims of optimizing athlete health and function and/or enhancing performance. Products that fall under the banner of “Sports Foods” or “Dietary Supplements,” may be used to support performance during training and competition or for enhancing aspects of training adaptation, recovery, immune function, and/or overall athlete health. Effective marketing campaigns and athlete endorsements may convince us that certain sports foods and supplements are fundamental in allowing athletes to reach their sporting goals. However, this approach is naive in understanding the true foundations of athlete success, such as the inherent genetic predisposition for athletic characteristics, the many hours of well-structured/periodized training, appropriate underlying nutrition, adequate sleep and recovery, and of course, good overall physical and mental health. Nevertheless, if these variables are all accounted for, there may be a role for sports foods and dietary supplements in an athlete’s training and competition routine, particularly within elite sport where marginal performance gains are pursued. The following review presents general considerations for track-and-field athletes using sports foods and dietary supplements to enhance performance, in addition to exploring the potential therapeutic/prophylactic use of these nutritional aids.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

Document Type

Open Access Journal Article

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Open Access