Nutritional status of adventure racers.
ABSTRACT We describe the usual food intake, body composition, and biochemical profile of adventure racers during their training season and evaluate their energy and nutrient intake in relation to current recommendations for ultraendurance athletes.
Twenty-four adventure race athletes (18 men and 6 women), 24 to 42 y of age, participated in the study. Food intake was determined with a 3-d food record and body composition by plethysmography. Blood samples were obtained from all subjects for biochemical analyses. All assessments were made during the usual training phase.
Female athletes had a higher body fat percentage than did male athletes (20.2 +/- 5.7% versus 12.5 +/- 3.5%). For men and women, food intake was high in protein (1.9 +/- 0.5 g/kg in men, 2.0 +/- 0.4 g/kg in women) and fat (1.6 +/- 0.3 g/kg in men, 1.5 +/- 1.3 g/kg in women). Carbohydrate intake of male athletes was at the lower limit of that recommended (5.9 +/- 1.8 g/kg). For most vitamins and minerals, athletes' intake was adequate, with the exception of magnesium, zinc, and potassium in men and women and vitamin E and calcium in women, which presented a high probability of being inadequate compared with reference values. High blood levels of total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol were found in female athletes (201.0 +/- 44.7 and 104.1 +/- 43.1 mg/dL, respectively) and all other biochemical analyses were within normal reference values.
The adventure racers presented an inadequate nutritional profile when compared with recommendations for endurance exercise. These athletes need to be educated about consuming an adequate diet to meet the nutritional needs of their activity.
- [show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: With the rising popularity of ultradistance sports events lasting from 6 to 24 hours or multiple days, athletes are consulting registered dietitians for specialized dietary advice. Many dietitians, however, lack experience with these types of events. This article provides basic guidelines ffor fueling the ultradistance athlete. The goals are to maintain normal hydration and blood glucose levels, which can be done by enforcing programmed drinking (approximately 250 to 500 mL/15 minutes, depending on the athlete's sweat rate and environmental temperature) and programmed eating (1 to 1.5 + g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight per hour, depending on the athlete's acceptance of and tolerance to solid and/or liquid foods during exercise). Athletes who compete longer than 6 to 8 hours should consume adequate electrolytes, particularly sodium (approximately 1 g/hour) through either sports drinks or foods. These guidelines are applied to a case study of the 1991 women's winner of the Race Across America, a 2,930-mile biking event.Journal of the American Dietetic Association 11/1992; 92(10):1258-62. · 3.80 Impact Factor
Article: Nutrition for cyclists.[show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Good nutrition is important at every stage of training and competition. Both the serious competitive cyclist as well as the recreational cyclist should eat a balanced diet that provides calories adequate to meet energy demands. Athletes consuming less than 2000 calories a day may have difficulty meeting nutrient needs, particularly for iron and calcium. Weight loss, glycogen depletion, and dehydration also are possible results of an inadequate diet. Dietary strategies to enhance or maintain the body's carbohydrate stores are necessary for performance, especially for cyclists with high training miles or participating in road racing and other endurance events. Additionally, cyclists should be encouraged to drink plenty of fluids, especially when in a hot environment. It appears that protein requirements of endurance athletes increase as the duration and intensity of exercise increases. However, factors such as total calorie intake and protein quality should be considered when determining protein needs. Many athletes are concerned about vitamin and mineral intake and often use nutritional supplements both for "insurance" as well as performance reasons. The supplements taken most often include vitamin C, the B-complex, and iron. Vitamins and minerals in excess of the RDA do not improve performance and can be toxic when consumed in large amounts. On the other hand, vegetarians and cyclists with low-calorie intakes may benefit from a multivitamin or mineral supplement.Clinics in Sports Medicine 02/1994; 13(1):235-47. · 2.38 Impact Factor
- [show abstract] [hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Triathlon combines three disciplines (swimming, cycling and running) and competitions last between 1 hour 50 minutes (Olympic distance) and 14 hours (Ironman distance). Independent of the distance, dehydration and carbohydrate (CHO) depletion are the most likely causes of fatigue in triathlon, whereas gastrointestinal (GI) problems, hyperthermia and hyponatraemia are potentially health threatening, especially in longer events. Although glycogen supercompensation may be beneficial for triathlon performance (even Olympic distance), this does not necessarily have to be achieved by the traditional supercompensation protocol. More recently, studies have revealed ways to increase muscle glycogen concentrations to very high levels with minimal modifications in diet and training. During competition, cycling provides the best opportunity to ingest fluids. The optimum CHO concentration seems to be in the range of 5-8% and triathletes should aim to achieve a CHO intake of 60-70 g/hour. Triathletes should attempt to limit body mass losses to 1% of body mass. In all cases, a drink should contain sodium (30-50 mmol/L) for optimal absorption and prevention of hyponatraemia.Post-exercise rehydration is best achieved by consuming beverages that have a high sodium content (>60 mmol/L) in a volume equivalent to 150% of body mass loss. GI problems occur frequently, especially in long-distance triathlon. Problems seem related to the intake of highly concentrated carbohydrate solutions, or hyperosmotic drinks, and the intake of fibre, fat and protein. Endotoxaemia has been suggested as an explanation for some of the GI problems, but this has not been confirmed by recent research. Although mild endotoxaemia may occur after an Ironman-distance triathlon, this does not seem to be related to the incidence of GI problems. Hyponatraemia has occasionally been reported, especially among slow competitors in triathlons and probably arises due to loss of sodium in sweat coupled with very high intakes (8-10 L) of water or other low-sodium drinks.Sports Medicine 01/2005; 35(2):163-81. · 5.24 Impact Factor
Applied nutritional investigation
Nutritional status of adventure racers
Ioná Zalcman, M.S.a,b,*, Heloisa Vidigal Guarita, R.D.a, Claudia Ridel Juzwiak, Ph.D.b,
Cibele Aparecida Crispim, M.S.a,b, Hanna Karen Moreira Antunes, Ph.D.a,
Ben Edwards, Ph.D.c, Sérgio Tufik, Ph.D.a, and Marco Túlio de Mello, Ph.D.a,b
aDepartment of Psychobiology, Federal University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
bPostgraduation Program in Nutrition, Federal University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
cResearch Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, United Kingdom
Manuscript received October 2, 2006; accepted January 4, 2007.
AbstractObjective: We describe the usual food intake, body composition, and biochemical profile of
adventure racers during their training season and evaluate their energy and nutrient intake in relation
to current recommendations for ultraendurance athletes.
Methods: Twenty-four adventure race athletes (18 men and 6 women), 24 to 42 y of age,
participated in the study. Food intake was determined with a 3-d food record and body composition
by plethysmography. Blood samples were obtained from all subjects for biochemical analyses. All
assessments were made during the usual training phase.
Results: Female athletes had a higher body fat percentage than did male athletes (20.2 ? 5.7%
versus 12.5 ? 3.5%). For men and women, food intake was high in protein (1.9 ? 0.5 g/kg in men,
2.0 ? 0.4 g/kg in women) and fat (1.6 ? 0.3 g/kg in men, 1.5 ? 1.3 g/kg in women). Carbohydrate
intake of male athletes was at the lower limit of that recommended (5.9 ? 1.8 g/kg). For most
vitamins and minerals, athletes’ intake was adequate, with the exception of magnesium, zinc,
and potassium in men and women and vitamin E and calcium in women, which presented a
high probability of being inadequate compared with reference values. High blood levels of total
cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol were found in female athletes (201.0 ? 44.7 and
104.1 ? 43.1 mg/dL, respectively) and all other biochemical analyses were within normal reference
Conclusion: The adventure racers presented an inadequate nutritional profile when compared with
recommendations for endurance exercise. These athletes need to be educated about consuming an
adequate diet to meet the nutritional needs of their activity.
© 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights
Nutritional status; Ultraendurance; Adventure race; Athletes; Food intake
Athletes’ participation in ultraendurance sports events, such
as ultramarathons, long-distance triathlons, cycling, swim-
ming, adventure races, and other events lasting ?6 h has
increased in recent years [1,2]. Despite the intensive and
vigorous training demanded by these sports, a large number
of contestants do not complete the competitions. This fail-
ure might be explained by the intense fatigue, injury, dehy-
dration, hyponatremia, or hypoglycemia that are faced by
the athletes [3,4].
In the previous decade, adventure racing has increased in
popularity all over the world, with a consequent increase in
the number of events and participants . The competitions
may last several uninterrupted days, and mixed-gender
teams of three to five members need to use specific abilities
to complete trekking, mountain biking, vertical techniques
(rappelling, climbing, and Tyrolean traverses), horse riding,
This study was supported by the AFIP, Sleep Institute, CEPID/
FAPESP (98/14303-3), CEPE, UNIFESP, CENESP/UNIFESP, FADA,
* Corresponding author. Tel.: ?55-11-5572-0177.
E-mail address: email@example.com (I. Zalcman).
Nutrition 23 (2007) 404–411
0899-9007/07/$ – see front matter © 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Alpinism, swimming, canoeing, sailing, rafting, and orien-
teering. Each team apportions its time between activities for
rest, sleep, and food/fluid intake. The winning team is the
one that passes through the checkpoints previously desig-
nated by the organization . These sports demand great
physical preparation, refined technical knowledge, success-
ful strategy, emotional control, and sufficient team spirit .
During intensive training periods, recommendations for en-
ergy and macronutrient intake, especially for carbohydrates
and proteins, must be achieved to maintain body mass, recover
muscle glycogen stores, and offer adequate amounts of protein
to build and regenerate tissues. Fat intake must be adequate to
supply essential fatty acids and liposoluble vitamins and to
provide adequate energy intake to maintain body mass .
However, it is common that ultraendurance athletes, who train
several hours a day, have an inadequate energy intake, due to
restricted available time for eating combined with a high-
energy expenditure originated by the training. If maintained,
this deficit can lead to chronic fatigue, body mass loss, and/or
decreased performance . Notwithstanding these problems,
studies on such sports and their impact on the individual are
very scarce, and effects of fatigue, stress, sleep deprivation,
and environmental changes may confound interpretation of the
collected data. Knowledge of these athletes’ food habits is
necessary to provide them with appropriate nutritional advice.
Therefore, the aim of this study was to describe the normal
food intake, body composition, and biochemical profile of
adventure racers during the usual training phase and evaluate
the adequacy of energy and nutrient intake in relation to the
current recommendations for endurance athletes.
Materials and methods
The present study was conducted during the usual train-
ing phase of the adventure racers. Twenty-four adventure
race athletes (18 male and 6 female), 24 to 42 y of age, who
had been practicing this sport for at least 3 y, and had
participated in national and international competitions and
placed within the first positions of the Brazilian ranking,
participated in this study. Their enrollment was voluntary,
after being informed about the procedures and objectives of
This study was approved by the Committee of Ethics of
the Federal University of Sao Paulo, under appraisal no.
1435/04, and informed written consent was obtained from
all volunteers before starting the study. Participants had the
option to leave the study whenever they wished.
Three-day food records were collected during the usual
training phase of these adventure racers, including 2 non-
consecutive weekdays and 1 weekend day. It has been
shown that 3-d food records are adequate in estimating
habitual energy intake to within 90% of actual values in
groups as small as 13 individuals . The athletes were
instructed to provide as much detail as possible of the foods
and fluids consumed, including brand names and recipes for
home-cooked foods. Portion sizes were estimated using
common household measurements such as cups, glasses,
bowls, teaspoons, and tablespoons in addition to individual
food items/units. The athletes discussed their reported food
intake with a qualified nutritionist and the information was
amended to include additional explanations and detail, thus
improving the accuracy of the information obtained. The
Virtual Nutri 1.0 software (University of Sao Paulo, Brazil,
1996) was used for the quantitative analysis of energy and
nutrient intake. Energy intake was compared with the esti-
mated energy requirement according to the equation of the
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)/World Health
Organization (WHO)/United Nations University (UNU)
equation . Basal metabolic rate (BMR) was calculated
based on height and weight. Energy requirements were
estimated using a physical activity level of 1.7 ? BMR.
Carbohydrate, protein, and fat intakes were compared with
the recommendations proposed by the American Dietetic
Association (ADA), Dietitians of Canada (DC), and Amer-
ican College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) . Fiber, cho-
lesterol, vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B6, B12, and E, and the
minerals, sodium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, potassium,
and iron were compared with the values recommended by
the dietary reference intake (DRI) [12–17]. For the calcu-
lation of adequacy of intake, the statistical approach pro-
posed by the DRI committees, which compares the differ-
ence between the reported intake and the estimated average
requirement (EAR), was used. This equation also takes into
consideration the variability of the requirement and the
day-to-day variability of nutrient intake within an individ-
ual. The result is a z score, from which a probability value,
that reflects the degree of confidence that the individual’s
usual intake meets his/her requirement, is determined .
A Z score ?0.85 was adopted as a cutoff point, which
assures an 80% probability of adequate intake. Nutrients
that have a skewed distribution or with no established EAR
were compared with EAR or recommended dietary allow-
ances (RDA) and adequate intake (AI) values, respectively.
Subjects’ body mass, and percentages of fat mass and
fat-free mass were measured by total body plethysmography
(BOD POD) composition system. Body weight was mea-
sured to the nearest 0.01 kg using the BOD POD electronic
scale, calibrated before each BOD POD test. Height was
measured with a Sanny stadiometer (American Medical do
Brazil, Sao Paulo, Brazil) with a 0.1-cm precision. All
measurements were determined according to recommended
I. Zalcman et al. / Nutrition 23 (2007) 404–411
a standardized incremental test up to voluntary exhaustion on
Life Fitness, Schiller Park, IL, USA) began after a 1-min rest
followed by a 2-min warm-up at 8 km/h-1, with a fixed incli-
nation at 1% . Volunteers were asked about the frequency
and duration of their training schedule.
All volunteers attended the laboratory in the morning after
a 12-h fast and blood samples were taken from the antecubital
fossa by vein puncture within 2 min of being seated. Each
blood sample was stored at ?40°C until analysis. All samples
were analyzed using commercial kits, following all the recom-
mended procedures. Hematological profile (hemoglobin, he-
matocrit, ferritin, mean corpuscular volume, mean corpuscular
hemoglobin, mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration, and
the size distribution of the erythrocytes) were measured by
ethylene-diaminetetra-acetate (Vitros Chemistry, Ortho-Clini-
cal Diagnostic, Los Angeles, CA, USA) and serum iron was
determined by enzyme (Vitros Chemistry). Glucose, total cho-
lesterol, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDLc), triacylg-
lycerides, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and total protein
were analyzed calorimetrically (Vitros Chemistry). Low-den-
LDLc ? cholesterol ? HDLc ? (triacylglycerides/5). Sodium
and potassium were determined by the potentiometric method
(Vitros Chemistry). Creatinine was determined enzymatically
(Vitros Chemistry). Thyroid-stimulating hormone, tri-iodothy-
ronine, and free thyroxine were determined by chemilumines-
cence (Advia Centaur, Bayer Healthcare, Tarrytown, NY,
USA) as was insulin (Immulite 2000 Insulin, Los Angeles,
Data were analyzed with Statistica 6.0 (StatSoft, Inc.,
Tulsa, OK, USA). Gender comparisons between individu-
als’ characteristics, their food intakes, and biochemistry
used Student’s t tests for independent samples. Statistical
tests with P ? 0.05 were accepted as significant. All values
were expressed as mean ? standard deviation (SD).
Characteristics of the participants are presented in Table
1. Body mass, height, BMI, body fat, and fat-free mass
results showed significant statistical differences between the
genders. Females had a higher body fat percentage com-
pared with males (20.2% versus 12.5%, P ? 0.005). For the
remaining anthropometric variables, male adventure rac-
ers presented significantly higher values than did female
athletes (P ? 0.05).
Adventure racers train an average of 12 h/wk, divided into
four basic modalities (running, cycling, rowing, and strength
exercises) and performed at different periods of the day (morn-
ing, afternoon, and/or night). On weekends, training is more
specific than on weekdays, being conducted in environmental
conditions that are closer to those found in the competition
Food intake evaluation
The analysis of the normal intakes of energy, macronu-
trients, fiber, and cholesterol in relation to the recommen-
dations of the FAO/WHO/UNU , ADA, DC, and
ACSM , and DRI  are presented in Table 2. Women
had energy intakes above the recommendation of the FAO/
WHO/UNU  (48.1 versus 41 kcal · kg?1· d?1). It was
observed that, independent of gender, adventure racers had
diets high in fat and protein. Carbohydrate intake was ade-
quate for women; however, in men, carbohydrate intake was
at the lower limit of recommended values. In relation to the
DRI  recommendations, both genders presented a low
intake of fiber and a high intake of cholesterol.
The most frequently consumed supplements were sports
drinks (37%), carbohydrates in gel and powder forms
(33%), protein supplements (29%), vitamin C (20%), mul-
tivitamins (20%), isolated amino acids (16%), glutamine
(12%), meal replacement (12%), vitamin E (8%), and fer-
rous sulfate (4%).
The mean daily intakes of vitamins and minerals were
compared with the DRI recommendations [12–17] (Table
3). With the exception of potassium and magnesium, all
micronutrients exceeded the recommended values (RDA or
AI) in men. For women, potassium, iron, and zinc levels
were below recommended values.
Table 4 describes the probabilities of adequate intakes of
vitamins B1, B2, and B6, and of magnesium, zinc, phos-
phorus, and iron. Most athletes had a ?80% probability of
adequate intake of vitamins B1, B2, and B6, and phospho-
rous. Although the iron intake of all the males was adequate,
(n ? 18)
(n ? 6)
Body mass (kg)
Body mass index (kg/m2)
Body fat (%)
Fat mass (kg)
Lean mass (kg)
Training sessions (h/wk)
Peak oxygen consumption on treadmill
(mL · kg?1· min?1)
30.9 ? 5.8
75.5 ? 5.1
176.0 ? 5.6
24.3 ? 1.0
12.5 ? 3.5
9.4 ? 2.8
65.9 ? 5.4
13.1 ? 2.7
58.6 ? 6.6
30.3 ? 7.8
63.7 ? 4.0†
168.0 ? 5.3†
22.6 ? 1.8†
20.2 ? 5.7‡
12.9 ? 4.0‡
50.85 ? 4.4†
12.5 ? 3.4
52.8 ? 5.5
* Values are presented as mean ? SD.
†Significantly smaller compared to the other gender (P ? 0.05, Stu-
dent’s t test).
‡Significantly larger compared with the other gender (P ? 0.05, Stu-
dent’s t test).
I. Zalcman et al. / Nutrition 23 (2007) 404–411
only 50% of the female athletes took in enough iron. There
was a low probability of adequate intake of magnesium
(78% of men and 50% of women) and zinc (50% of men
and women) for most athletes.
Most adventure racers presented an intake of vitamins A,
C, and B12 above the cutoff point of the RDA (Table 5).
Only 50% of male and 33% of female athletes had a vitamin
E intake above the cutoff point.
Table 6 shows an adequate intake of calcium for most
male athletes, but 50% of female athletes had an inadequate
calcium intake. All adventure racers had an adequate so-
Results of the biochemical evaluation are listed in Table 7.
All values were within normal limits, with the exception of
total cholesterol and LDLc plasma concentrations, which
were slightly above reference values in women.
It is commonly observed that, in ultraendurance sports
such as ultradistance triathlon and marathon events, partic-
ipants are older than the average age found in those partic-
Mean daily energy and macronutrients intake of adventure racers*
MenWomen Men (n ? 18) Women (n ? 6)
44 4144.6 ? 8.0 48.1 ? 19.8
147.1 ? 36.4
428.9 ? 132.9
120.0 ? 24.8
129.9 ? 27.3
439.7 ? 118.9
96.2 ? 81.8
1.9 ? 0.5
5.9 ? 1.8
1.6 ? 0.3
2.0 ? 0.4
6.9 ? 1.9
1.5 ? 1.3
17.6 ? 6.4
49.9 ? 8.7
32.3 ? 5.7
21.2 ? 5.7
414.3 ? 163.7
18.1 ? 3.6
60.7 ? 14.0¶
24.8 ? 11.0||
20.7 ? 7.8
315.7 ? 208.5
* Values are presented as mean ? SD.
†Values based on the FAO/World Health Organization equation .
‡Recommendations of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and American College of Sports Medicine .
§Dietary reference intake (adequate intake) reference values .
¶Significantly larger compared with the other gender (P ? 0.05).
||Significantly smaller compared with the other gender (P ? 0.05).
Mean daily micronutrient intakes of adventure racers in relation to nutritional recommendations of dietary reference intake [11–16]*
MenWomenMen (n ? 18)Women (n ? 6)
Vitamin A (?g RE)†
Vitamin C (mg)†
Vitamin B1 (mg)†
Vitamin B2 (mg)†
Vitamin B6 (mg)†
Vitamin B12 (?g)†
Vitamin E (mg TE)†
1782.6 ? 1180.9
301.6 ? 334.9
3.5 ? 3.2
2.3 ? 0.6
3.1 ? 1.1
5.8 ? 2.5
15.7 ? 5.2
4427.2 ? 1427.6
1326.9 ? 383.5
325.0 ? 97.6
13.9 ? 4.9
3233.2 ? 1014.9
31.3 ? 48.47
1712.7 ? 580.2
462.8 ? 414.7
5.2 ? 6.5
3.3 ? 0.9
3.1 ? 1.0
5.7 ? 3.5
15.4 ? 9.7
3543.9 ? 2985.0
1316.9 ? 598.0
339.5 ? 113.7
10.4 ? 5.5
3348.9 ? 1047.1
16.1 ? 9.2
* Values are expressed as mean ? SD.
†Recommended dietary allowance.
I. Zalcman et al. / Nutrition 23 (2007) 404–411
ipating in endurance and resistance sports [2,21,22]. In our
study, the athletes’ ages were similar to those described in
other studies of ultraendurance athletes. These results sug-
gest that the athletes have a greater maturity and better
emotional balance in addition to their physical conditioning.
The V˙O2peak values of our athletes determined on a tread-
mill (58.6 mL · kg?1· min?1in men, 56.0 mL · kg?1· min?1
in women) were similar to those described by Kimber et al.
 in triathletes (58.3 mL · kg?1· min?1in men, 53.6
mL · kg?1· min?1in women). However, our athletes had
lower values in comparison with male (68.5 mL · kg?1
· min?1)  and female (66.9 mL · kg?1· min?1)  ultra-
marathoners. Usually, athletes involved in sports with sev-
eral different disciplines, such as the triathlon, have lower
values for maximum oxygen intake (V˙O2peak) when com-
pared with athletes whose sport involves only one discipline
(such as cycling or running). That difference may be related
to the demand to maintain aerobic performance in multi-
discipline sports [26,27].
In five of the six women in this study, percentage body
fat was above the ideal values suggested for women ath-
letes. According to ADA, DC, and ACSM  recommen-
dations, the percentage fat for female cyclists, triathletes,
and runners varies between 6% and 16%. However, Kimber
et al.  and Nogueira and Da Costa  found female
triathletes with fat values above ours (22.2% and 24.3%,
respectively). Prolonged exercise seems to favor greater
Male and female adventure racers distributed considering the cutoff
point of AI values
AI, adequate intake
Male and female adventure racers distributed by gender according to level of probability of adequacy for vitamins B1, B2, and B6, magnesium, zinc,
phosphorous, and iron micronutrients
Nutrients Probability of adequacy
100% 90%80% 70%60%50%40% 30% 20%10%0%
Vitamin B1 (mg)
Vitamin B2 (mg)
Vitamin B6 (mg)
Male and female adventure racers distributed by gender in relation to
adequacy intake of vitamins A, C, E, and B12, considering the cutoff
points of the EAR and RDA values for age and gender
Vitamin A (?g)
Vitamin C (mg)
Vitamin E (mg)
Vitamin B12 (?g)
EAR, estimate average requirement; RDA, recommended dietary
I. Zalcman et al. / Nutrition 23 (2007) 404–411
body fat stores in response to high metabolic demand and
consequent high-energy intake . In our group, women
exceeded the recommended daily energy intake by 17%,
which may contribute to body fat storage.
Several studies have reported that ultraendurance ath-
letes have high energy intakes in response to the high
energy demand during training [22,23,28,30,31]. The en-
ergy intake of our male athletes was adequate (44.6 kcal/
kg); however, the women’s intake was above requirements
(48.1 kcal/kg?1) according to calculations based on the
FAO/WHO/UNU  equation. Our values were above
those suggested for female long-distance runners  and
triathletes  (42.9 and 42.2 kcal/kg?1, respectively).
Nevertheless, it is important to remember that the suggested
values are estimates only, and these may under- or overes-
timate the true energy needs of the athletes we have studied.
De Lorenzo et al. , in a comparative study involving
several equations predicting resting metabolic rate equa-
tions and indirect calorimetry, observed that the equations
proposed by the FAO/WHO/UNU  underestimated the
energy needs of some athletes.
Macronutrient intake, both quantitatively and qualita-
tively (that is, distribution in the diet), plays a fundamental
role in performance during training and competition . In
our study we found an imbalance in macronutrient intake in
both men and women during their training period. The
low-carbohydrate intake in male athletes was similar to that
found by Grandjean  in cyclists (386 g/d) and Singh et
al.  in ultramarathoners (410 g/d). However, carbohy-
drate intake, which is usually insufficient in female endur-
ance athletes , was in accord with ADA, DC, and
ACSM  recommendations. An inadequate carbohydrate
intake may result in insufficient muscle glycogen storage,
early onset of fatigue, and the use of protein stores for
energy production . The excessive protein and fat intake
observed was similar to values found in other studies
[28,31,34,36]. It has been observed that excess protein in-
take might impair performance because there is an increased
use of amino acids as the main energy source , a higher
risk of dehydration , and increased calcium excretion
. The excessive consumption of fat decreases the stor-
age of glycogen in both muscles and liver. Therefore, train-
ing intensity may be compromised in individuals who con-
sume a fat-rich diet. An impairment in exercise capacity is
likely to result from a combination of premature depletion
of (lowered) muscle glycogen stores and absence of any
effective increase in the capacity for fat utilization during
exercise to compensate for the reduction in available car-
Unexpectedly, slight increases in total cholesterol and
LDLc fraction levels were found in the women in our study.
Usually, athletes have an adequate lipid profile, with exer-
cises acting to reduce total cholesterol and LDLc and in-
creases HDLc . Although our female athletes presented
a high level of training, apparently their diet appears to have
influenced negatively their lipid profile.
A low fiber intake was found in both genders when
compared with the DRI. Data on fiber intake show that
athletes usually do not achieve recommended values [42–
44]. The low fiber intake could be related to the high intake
of high-energy density foods that is required to meet the
energy expenditure due to training.
In relation to the intake of micronutrient, it was observed
that, on average, athletes consumed more than the RDA/AI
Biochemical profile of male and female adventure racers*
Men Women Men (n ? 18) Women (n ? 6)
101.9 ? 30.5
107.3 ? 40.2
15.2 ? 0.9
45.6 ? 2.8
5.2 ? 0.3
88.0 ? 3.6
29.4 ? 1.5
33.4 ? 1.3
13.3 ? 0.8
86.9 ? 5.6
1.0 ? 0.1
175.3 ? 25.9
59.6 ? 10.4
97.4 ? 21.7
18.3 ? 6.7
67.7 ? 19.2†
48.2 ? 39.7†
13.9 ? 1.1†
40.7 ? 3.1†
4.5 ? 0.3†
90.3 ? 3.7
30.4 ? 1.6
33.1 ? 1.1
12.5 ? 1.1
87.3 ? 8.7
0.8 ? 0.1†
201.0 ? 44.7
79.7 ? 12.1‡
104.1 ? 43.1
17.2 ? 9.1
MCH, mean corpuscular hemoglobin; MCCH, mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration; HDL, high-density lipoprotein; LDL, low-density lipopro-
tein; SDE, size distribution of the erythrocytes; MCV, mean corpuscular volume; VLDL, very low-density lipoprotein
* Values are expressed as mean ? SD.
†Significantly smaller compared with the other gender (P ? 0.05, Student’s t test).
‡Significantly larger compared with the other gender (P ? 0.05, Student’s t test).
I. Zalcman et al. / Nutrition 23 (2007) 404–411
of almost all micronutrients. This may be related to the use
of food supplements, especially the meal replacement, vi-
tamin C, and multivitamins. Nevertheless, it must be taken
into consideration that there are no specific recommenda-
tions for athletes. There is evidence that physically active
individuals may have specific vitamin and mineral losses
during exercise through greater sweating and urinary losses
[45,46]. Those losses may indicate a greater need for vita-
mins and minerals, which may be 1.5 to 3 times greater in
ultraendurance athletes than in non-athletes .
However, although the conventional approach showed
that the athletes are consuming above or equal to, the
RDA/AI values, we also used the new intake-evaluation
technique proposed by the DRI ; this method enables
the probability of intake values being adequate or inade-
quate to be evaluated. Most athletes showed a probability of
adequate intake greater than, or equal to, 80% for vitamins
B1, B2, and B6 and for the minerals phosphorous and iron.
By contrast, magnesium intake had a high probability of
being inadequate in 78% of male and 50% of female ath-
letes, and this can lead to negative consequences on perfor-
mance because it is involved in energy metabolism, nerve
conduction, and muscle contraction .
Vitamins A, C, E, and B12 were separately analyzed
because they have a coefficient of variation of intake that is
greater than 60% to 70%. This demonstrates that the distri-
bution of intake is skewed and requires additional days for
accurate evaluation. These vitamins had only a low proba-
bility of inadequate intake, with the exception of vitamin E
for both genders. For 28% of male and 50% of female
athletes, vitamin E intake needs to be improved; vitamin E
has an important antioxidant action , so its dietary
intake should be increased.
For nutrients with no established EAR, a comparative anal-
ysis was done using the AI values. Because calcium intake for
men and sodium intake for both genders are above the AI,
those values are almost certainly adequate . On the other
hand, although the intakes of calcium (for most women) and
potassium (for the majority of all participants) were below the
AI, we cannot classify them as inadequate because, according
to the DRI , this method is unreliable.
Although other studies [46,49,50] have reported low iron
intake in women, we found normal iron status in our study,
even though iron deficiency and anemia are frequently re-
ported in female athletes [51–53].
These data suggest that food selection must be qualita-
tively re-evaluated so that it becomes possible to meet
recommendations regarding micronutrients intake through a
Adventure racers have an inadequate feeding pattern
during the training phase similar to reports of other studies
on ultraendurance athletes. The diet is characterized by high
protein and fat intakes at the expense of carbohydrate in-
take. However, it was observed that most athletes had an
adequate intake of vitamins and minerals, with the excep-
tion of magnesium, zinc, and potassium in both genders and
vitamin E and calcium (in females). The results indicate that
counseling and education in nutrition are essential to guar-
antee that adventure racers achieve an adequate diet, which
can improve their performance as well as maintain their
This study was supported by AFIP, SLEEP INSTITUTE,
CEPID/FAPESP (98/14303-3), CEPE, UNIFESP, CENESP/
UNIFESP, FADA, CAPES.
The authors thank all involved volunteers for their en-
thusiastic participation, Murilo Dáttilo for his technical as-
sistance, and Prof. Jim Waterhouse for his contribution to
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