Topical Area: Medical Nutrition
Objectives : Chronic high-intensity exercise in extreme conditions requires high nutrient demand and places high strain on an athlete’s body. Without balanced nutrition, these challenges will result in caloric deficit, loss of muscle mass and have associated negative physiological effects. Optimal nutrition can help manage and mitigate limits of extreme human performance and support recovery.
Purpose: To assess the impact of a high caloric, nutrient dense sport bar (52% fat, 13% protein, 35% carbohydrate) (Standard Process Inc, Palmyra, WI) on select health indicators of a male elite adventure athlete before and after a 932 mi trek across Antarctica. The subject performed the excursion solo and unsupported, with no replenishment of food/drink, using his own physical strength to trek 932 mi. Estimated daily caloric needs were ~10,000 kcal/d. 4908 kcals of this demand was consumed in the form of a sport bar (4 bars, 1187 kcal/bar) including nutrient- and phytonutrient-dense ingredients, as well as a protein powder supplement (1 serving, 160 kcal). Post-event dietary review indicated ~8000 kcal/d were consumed over the 54-d prolonged hours (10+ h/d) of constant activity.
Results : Pre- to post- trek body weight decreased by 6.8 kg. Total fat mass and body fat % decreased, 0.81 kg and 1%, respectively, and total lean muscle mass decreased by 0.21 kg (DXA, Discovery A; Hologic Inc.). Post-trek blood analysis revealed normal hsCRP (< 1.0 mg/L), and increases in vitamins such as B12 (by 293pg/ml) and vitamin D (by 80ng/dl). Increases in lactate dehydrogenase (by 197 U/L), and two liver enzymes, alanine aminotransferase (ALT, by 213 U/L) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST, 28 U/L) were also observed. Cortisol levels were moderately elevated (increase by 3.2 ug/dL) while testosterone (364.3 ng/dL) and estradiol (20 pg/nL) levels were in low normal range.
Conclusions : This case study suggests optimizing nutrition with a nutrient-dense proprietary bar formula can effectively minimize weight loss and support muscle mass, compared to average weight losses of 18 kg reported in studies of similar activity using less than optimized diet plans. Further large-scale studies are needed to confirm health benefits of Standard Process sports bars on the nutritional status and performance of athletes participating in frequent organized training and performance challenges.
Funding Sources : This research was funded by Standard Process, Inc.
Vice President of Clinical Science, Education, Innovation and R&D