In addition to these general dietary guidelines, there are several nutritional supplements that have been suggested to help athletes tolerate training to a greater degree and/or minimize the effects that intense training may have on catabolism and immune function. The following overviews the theoretical value and general research findings of several supplements that have been proposed to help reduce symptoms associated with overtraining.
Many athletes engaged in intense training have difficulty ingesting enough calories to offset caloric expenditure. Eating 4 to 6 times per day and consuming high-calorie foods/snacks between meals will maximize caloric intake. However, most high-calorie carbohydrate supplements are simply blends of sucrose and maltodextrins with no other nutrients added. Therefore, the nutrient density of these type of carbohydrate supplements is poor.
Over the last 10 years or so, there have been significant advances in the development of nutrient-dense, carbohydrate/protein supplements These supplements are available in liquid, powder, or bar form and serve as a convenient means of increasing caloric intake for athletes having difficulty eating enough calories during training. Additionally, most of these supplements contain little fat while supplying quality sources of carbohydrate, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
We believe that these types of supplements are a more balanced approach to increasing caloric intake of athletes than nonfortified concentrated carbohydrate drinks. Consequently, for athletes involved in intense training who need to increase caloric intake, we have often recommended that they ingest a quality carbohydrate/protein supplement following workouts or as snacks between meals. Research has indicated that ingesting these types of supplements during training may be more effective than simply adding carbohydrate to the diet.