Sprint and Interval Training (< 30 min)
Sprint and interval training require the right snacks and pre-competition meals rather than energy and fluid supply during performance as in the case of endurance sports. These foods should be especially well-tolerated and convenient to use. Lactic acid build-up in muscles is a critical limiting factor in high-intensity sports but can be counteracted by soda loading before workouts. Supplements such as creatine and caffeine can also serve to enhance performance, as well as nutrients promoting blood flow and microcirculation (NO metabolism).
Intermediate exercise (< 2 h)
Performances lasting longer than about 60-120 minutes require energy and adequate hydration during exercise in addition to carbo-loading. Up to an hour before exercise, mouth rinses and drinks rich in carbohydrates can support performance. Energy gels are ideal for performances lasting longer than an hour as they don’t require any chewing and energy is readily available. Performance can be further optimized by caffeine or products that promote NO metabolism and blood flow. If lactic acid build-up in muscles is the limiting factor of performance, soda loading can increase the muscle’s acid buffer capacity.
Long-lasting exercise (2–6 h)
Apart from carbo-loading, energy and hydration are of key importance during long-term exercise. It is important to pay attention to your body’s signals, in particular to thirst. Generally, about 0.4-0.8 litres of water should be drunk every hour. Any more than one litre per hour cannot be absorbed by the body and results in gastrointestinal problems. Along with fluid, 60-80 g of carbohydrates should also be consumed every hour. For prolonged physical activities, intake can/should be increased to 90-120 g/h max depending on the intensity and duration. Exercise lasting longer than 3-5 hours not only requires fluids but also some solid food which is important for gastrointestinal activity. Soda loading and/or salt during physical activity help prevent muscle problems during hot weather. In acute cases, bitter-sour solutions can be ingested or used to rinse your mouth.
Ultra-exercise (from 8 h/lasting several days)
Competitive events or long-lasting exercise over multiple days often require you to bring your own food. The exclusive intake of carbohydrates is no longer sufficient due to higher energy requirements and changes in metabolism. Though sports drinks, gels and bars can still be used as a source of carbohydrates, foods with a higher fat content and slow digesting carbohydrates should also be consumed. Depending on the circumstances, athletes should partake of non-perishable standard foods with a high fat content such as nuts, salami and chocolate. This is especially the case for competitive events that last multiple days like expeditions. In heat and long-lasting exercise salt requirements are increased depending on the nutritional composition of consumed foods and drinks. In order to minimize the breakdown of muscle and promote regeneration, a portion of protein should also be consumed every 3-4 hours either as supplements or standard foods.