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Efficacy of Popular Diets Applied by Endurance Athletes on Sports Performance: Beneficial or Detrimental? A Narrative Review (2021)


Endurance athletes need a regular and well-detailed nutrition program in order to fill their energy stores before training/racing, to provide nutritional support that will allow them to endure the harsh conditions during training/race, and to provide effective recovery after training/racing. Since exercise-related gastrointestinal symptoms can significantly affect performance, they also need to develop strategies to address these issues. All these factors force endurance athletes to constantly seek a better nutritional strategy. Therefore, several new dietary approaches have gained interest among endurance athletes in recent decades. This review provides a current perspective to five popular diet approaches: (a) vegetarian diets, (b) high-fat diets, (c) intermittent fasting diets, (d) gluten-free diet, and (e) low fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAP) diets. We reviewed scientific studies published from 1983 to January 2021 investigating the impact of these popular diets on the endurance performance and health aspects of endurance athletes. We also discuss all the beneficial and harmful aspects of these diets, and offer key suggestions for endurance athletes to consider when following these diets.

Keywords: carbohydrate; diet; fat; protein.


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