Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Nutrition and Athletic Performance 2016 Guidelines


In 2016, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Dieticians of Canada issued a joint 28-page position paper detailing evidence-based recommendations for calorie, nutrient, and fluid requirements for active adults and competitive athletes. The guidelines included recommendations for special populations and environments.


The 21st century has seen a major increase in nutritional research for optimizing health and athletic performance, along with increased marketing of nutritional sports supplements. Recent publications include research studies and reviews, consensus statements from sports organizations, and qualifications and accreditations for sports nutritionists and dieticians, as well as extensive coverage in popular media. The ACSM, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Dieticians of Canada support nutritional strategies for optimizing health and enhancing athletic training and competitive performance and recovery, but they determined that the flood of confusing and contradictory information demanded the formulation of detailed, evidence-based guidelines concerning appropriate types, amounts, and timing of foods, fluids, and dietary supplements based on individual body types and athletic performance requirements.

The guidelines were prepared for use by the public, as well as by members of the three supporting organizations, and by other organizations, government agencies, and industry. The position paper affirms that athletes should consult a registered dietitian or nutritionist, including Certified Specialists in Sports Dietetics in the United States and Canada, for the development of personalized nutrition plans. The joint position statement and guidelines remain in effect until the end of 2019.


The 2016 guidelines were the result of independent literature reviews by the three authors—one from each of the three organizations—and a systematic review using the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics's Evidence Analysis Process and Library. The position paper and guidelines were reviewed by experts from each of the three organizations and by the Academy Positions Committee Workgroup. They include 157 literature references.

The evidence-based analysis covered the period from March 2006 through November 2014. Each of the 11 conclusions—2 for energy balance and body composition, 6 for recovery, and 3 for training—were assigned a grade based on analysis and evaluation of the research evidence:


The guidelines address four major themes:

Nutrition for athlete preparation examines and calculates energy requirements, balance, and availability. This theme also covers body composition and sports performance, including:

Nutritional strategies for optimizing performance and recovery include:

Special populations and environments include:

Key recommendations

The 2016 guidelines are quite detailed, covering training and competition for a range of sports. They specify recommended amounts and timing of intake for different nutrients for which there is evidence of enhanced performance and recovery, without specifying types of foods. The guidelines emphasize that recommendations must be personalized for individual athletes in consultation with a sports dietician.

Guideline fundamentals include the following:

Specific nutritional recommendations include the following:

Adequate intake (AI)—
The daily average intake level of a nutrient that is likely to be adequate for a healthy, moderately active individual, as determined by the U.S. Institute of Medicine.
Sugars, starches, celluloses, and gums that are a major source of calories from foods and supply the body with energy.
A nitrogen-containing organic acid that supplies muscles with energy.
Animal starch; the form in which glucose is stored in the liver and muscle.
Nutrients such as vitamins and minerals that are required in minute amounts for growth and health.
Chains of amino acids that are essential constituents of all living cells and include structural components, enzymes, hormones, and antibodies.
Recommended dietary allowance (RDA)—
Recommended daily allowance; the approximate amount of a nutrient that should be ingested daily.

See also Nutrient timing .



Thomas, D. Travis, Kelly Anne Erdman, and Louise M. Burke. “American College of SportsMedicine Joint Position Statement: Nutrition and Athletic Performance.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 48, no. 3 (March 2016a): 543–68.

Thomas, D. Travis, Kelly Anne Erdman, and Louise M. Burke. “Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 116, no. 3 (March 2016b): 501–28. (accessed February 25, 2017).


American College of Sports Medicine. “Position Stands.” . (accessed February 25, 2017).

Burke, Louise M., et al. “Individualized Nutrition Support Is Crucial to Athletic Performance: Revised Position Paper from the American College of Sports Medicine.” American College of Sports Medicine. (accessed February 25, 2017).

Jeukendrup, Asker. “New Position Statement on Nutrition and Athletic Performance.” . (accessed February 25, 2017).

“Nutrition and Athletic Performance: Position of Dietitians of Canada, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the American College of Sports Medicine.” Dieticians of Canada. (accessed February 25, 2017).


Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 120 South Riverside Plz., Ste. 2190, Chicago, IL, 60606-6995, (312) 899-0040, (800) 877-1600, .

American College of Sports Medicine, 401 West Michigan St., Indianapolis, IN, 46202-3233, (317) 6379200, Fax: (317) 634-7817, .

Dietitians of Canada, 480 University Ave., Ste. 604, Toronto, Canada, ONT, M5G 1V2, (416) 596-0857, Fax: (416) 596-0603,, .

Margaret Alic, PhD

  This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.