In order to maximize his performance, a high level athlete is not compelled to consume dietary supplements since a healthy and adapted diet is theoretically able to provide him with all the required energy and nutrients. Nevertheless food supplements count among the most popular solutions proposed by sport dieticians. The market is huge and actually exploding, even if the efficacy of most products sold worldwide on athletic performance still remain to be scientifically proven, as is stated in a report of the French Society for Sport Nutrition published in 2009.
The difficulty to attest ergogenic effects as well as the lack of standardization of the studies conducted so far have not allowed to gather consistent results (1). For more information about nutrition and sport read our detailed article on the subject.
Nutrigenetics is the part of the nutritional genomics that studies how genetic differences can affect the way our bodies absorb, metabolize and utilize nutrients and why the interaction of our genes with certain food components can influence our health and nutritional status. Much of the research in the field has been focused on how genetics relate to illness and disease. However, the findings have also given the athletic world a glimpse into the exciting future of high-performance sports training and nutrition.
Nutrigenomics studies have lead to the identification of over 300 genes relevant to health and fitness (2). These genes range from those affecting cardiovascular endurance, muscle power and strength to those related to heart rate, body composition, blood pressure and metabolic factors, such as how the body clears lactic acid and uses carbohydrates and fats. The idea of personalized nutrition can be extended to the world of performance by developing individually tailored diets and supplement recommendations that will take into account one’s unique genetic background and sports goals to optimize sport performance (3).
And there is more. Far from being only of interest only for nutritional physiologists and sport dietitians, the identification of these exercise-related genetic characteristics might drastically transform training programs. Evidences that specific genetic profiles may be very responsive to one particular type of exercise program and nonresponsive to another might lead to the design of ultra-personalized training programs adapted to one’s unique genetic makeup (taking environmental factors into consideration), and aimed at increasing one’s full athletic potential (4-6).
1. Baume N, Mangin, P., Saugy, M. (2004) Compléments alimentaires : phénomène de société et problématique dans lemonde antidopage. Revue Médicale Suisse 509: http://revue.medhyg.ch/article.php3?sid=23942 2. Bray MS, Hagberg JM, Perusse L, Rankinen T, Roth SM, Wolfarth B and Bouchard C (2009) The human gene map for performance and health-related fitness phenotypes: the 2006-2007 update. Med Sci Sports Exerc 41: 35-73 3. Bragazzi NL (2013) Situating Nutri-Ethics at the Junction of Nutrigenomics and Nutriproteomics in Postgenomics Medicine. Curr Pharmacogenomics Person Med 11: 162-166 4. Roth SM, Rankinen T, Hagberg JM, Loos RJ, Perusse L, Sarzynski MA, Wolfarth B and Bouchard C (2012) Advances in exercise, fitness, and performance genomics in 2011. Med Sci Sports Exerc 44: 809-17 5. Wolfarth B, Rankinen T, Hagberg JM, Loos RJ, Perusse L, Roth SM, Sarzynski MA and Bouchard C (2014) Advances in exercise, fitness, and performance genomics in 2013. Med Sci Sports Exerc 46: 851-9 6. Kambouris M, Del Buono A and Maffulli N (2014) Genomics DNA profiling in elite professional soccer players: a pilot study. Transl Med UniSa 9: 18-22