Last Updated on January 11, 2009 by Jimson Lee
This summary is from the IAAF 2nd International Consensus Conference on “Nutrition for Athletics“ held in Monaco from April 18-20, 2007. Copies of the CD and booklet are available from the IAAF website www.iaaf.org.
Fatigue and Illness in Athletes
Presenter: Myra Nimmo (GBR)
Recommendations to keep immunity high include: maintain energy equilibrium, keep CHO stores high, have a moderate amount of fat in the diet, stay well hydrated. Use of vitamin C and A-tocopherol is equivocal, with some positive findings. However, it should be noted that anti-oxidants might dampen the training adaptation.
Adequate nutrition before, during and after training and competition is a key element of maintaining health and warding off early fatigue and possible immuno-suppression. A period of immuno-suppression after an intense exercise bout is inevitable and can last up to 72 hour. However, it can be attenuated by proper nutrition.
The cytokine IL-6 can lead to fatigue and poor sleep quality and have profound negative effects on performance. Low glycogen and other training and life stressors can elevate IL-6. IL-6 seems to playa central role in acquired immunity. It is considered the “switch” from innate to acquired immunity. IL-6 can only be active when bound to the receptors IL-6R and gp130. It is therefore important to look not only at levels of IL-6, but also at levels of IL-6R and gp130.
IL-6 seems to serve as an energy sensor: low glycogen levels prior to exercise elevate IL-6 compared to placebo controls and CHO feeding during exercise attenuates IL-6 release. When IL-6 was administered prior to exercise, it induced an increased sensation of psychological and physical fatigue, possibly through central mechanisms.
Ensuring adequate glycogen and delaying depletion of glycogen is clearly a key goal for athletic events.
Overtraining is defined as an accumulation of training and/or non-training stress that results in a long-term (weeks and months) decrease in performance. Overtraining is associated with an increased incidence of infections, persistent sore muscles, general malaise and disturbed sleep. The etiology is complex and the syndrome’s the existence has even been challenged.
Chronic stress can cause elevated IL-6 levels, which in turn can cause a disturbed balance in T-helper cells. This will lead to increased susceptibility to viral infections. At present, there is no clear guidance on the cause, the identification or the remedy for the overtraining syndrome. Despite many possible markers, a good psychological test (Profile of Mood States) still seems to be the most accurate measure of overtraining.
Different deficiencies have an effect on fatigue and immune system. Energy deficiency can cause a reduction in memory T-cells. Elevated fatty acid availability may decrease immune function by increasing the amount of prostaglandin. Too little fat in the diet can cause immuno-suppression as well.
The above summary was written by Peter Res
If you wish to download this handy Grams and Calorie Calculator for Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat, click here for the Excel spreadsheet.
This is part 10 of 14 in a series from the 2007 2nd IAAF International Consensus Conference “Nutrition for Athletics”
Hello fellow athletes,
I’m writing for thoughts/ feedback on something I’m struggling with. I believe I fell victim to overtraining during a very difficult period in my life. I was going through the significant stress of two side by side lost pregnancies and financial stress. At this time I completely ignored my nutritional needs while I continued my running workouts to burn stress. I was also cleaning a filthy bar to cover medical expenses inhaling all kinds of toxins. Im a 32 year old female. Ive been an athlete since I was a little girl and incredibly muscular. Literally the fastest girl in my class and always the best at anything athletic. I was a Gymnast in my youth, runner in adolescence and now swim, bike, and do yoga as well. After this particularly stressful period I became ill and it brought out an Autoimmune thyroid disorder called Hoshimotos Thyroiditis and I quite literally became bed ridden. At one point I couldn’t even get myself to go to work, which was a desk job. They told me I was also “adrenally fatigued.” At one point during all of this I came down with Acute pyelonephritis (very bad kidney infection) and was hospitalized for a week which did nothing for my strength. So in a matter of six months I went from the epitome of health to a very low energy, brittle person.
I have been on supplement and thyroid support for about 8-12 months but have noticed my muscles have atrophied and I am just not the same physically as I was. I truly believe everything I’m eating and doing is all I can do. Now it just takes time. My boundless energy and strength has been depleted and I literally have sagging skin on my forearms. I try to stay positive and am on a very healthy regime of veggie smoothies and protein, and no gluten. I’m thinking it will take time (possibly years) for my skin to catch up to the weight I lost in my “hyper” mode. I workout as much as my energy allows and am very consciences about replacing calories. I really would like to hear from someone out there who has gone through an illness as an athlete and managed to get back to where they were especially females. The female body is different. I know lance armstrong got through cancer and I know numerous others are out there but I want to know the details. I want to know it’s going to get better? I realize I am getting older, I’m 32 but I literally went from having the stamina of a 26 year old to feeling almost 60. I was “ripped” and now people describe me as “slight” and just don’t look or feel like ME anymore. I would appreciate any words of advice or wisdom from anyone with anything to say. Do you know of any good books by athletes who’ve over come illness?
I speak to athletes all the time now when I come across them. Just yesterday I spoke with a marathon runner who looked like she weighed an ounce. I asked her what she ate pre and post workout, she told me a bowl of cereal and a red bull and I shuddered. We think because we are staying active we are helping our bodies but I am living proof we have to do more than that.