Food for Sprinters

Carbohydrates fuel sprinting.
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Sprinting involves short bursts of speed, such as with the 100-, 200- or 400-meter race. This type of exercise requires a specific type of diet to fuel maximum performance that differs from that of endurance athletes. Ensuring you eat right is a good way to make certain you're getting the most out of a sprinting practice or competition.


Carbohydrates are your body's main source of fuel, making them an important part of your sprinting diet. The Australian Sports Commission suggests eating a wide variety of carbohydrates to help fulfill your other nutrient requirements at the same time. Unlike endurance runners, sprinters don't need to carb load before an event. Most sprinters eat small meals before running to prevent feeling too full to perform. The specific number of carbohydrates you need before sprinting depends on the length of your run. Your trainer is a good resource for determining an appropriate amount for you. Grains, fruits and vegetables are primary sources of carbohydrates.


Protein is another nutrient that offers energy, though not to the high degree that carbohydrates do. Greg Vandermade, a sprinting coach, tells "The Daily Titan" that eating a 4-to-1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein is optimal. Protein is also important for building and maintaining healthy muscles and aiding in their recovery after sprinting. Lean beef, chicken, fish, beans, eggs and dairy foods are good sources of protein.


Sprinters are required to have very little body fat to maximize performance and speed. However, a small amount of fat is necessary to support energy and body function. Most coaches recommend limiting or avoiding fatty and fried foods because they are too high in fat, but also hinder performance by making sprinters sluggish. Healthy sources of fat include avocados, nuts, fish and olive oil.

Sample Meals

The meals that sprinters eat are important at all times, because the proper nutrient intake each day fuels practice and competitions. Breakfast might be whole grain cereal with low-fat milk and fruit, an omelet with fruit and cheese or an energy bar. Healthy lunch choices include tuna on whole-wheat bread with sliced vegetables and fruit, a bowl of chicken noodle soup with whole grain crackers and vegetables or a peanut butter and banana wrap on a whole-wheat tortilla. Dinner options include grilled beef, chicken or fish served with steamed vegetables and a baked potato or brown rice. Sprinters often snack on dried fruit, nuts, energy bars, granola bars and crackers with cheese. Preventing dehydration by drinking plenty of water is also an important part of a sprinter's diet.

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