[Sports Nutrition Lounge] Gut Microbiota & Performance



  • The adult gut contains around 100 trillion microorganisms, comprising bacteria, archaea, viruses, protozoans, and microfungi.

  • Intense or prolonged exercise can harm intestinal microbiota, potentially leading to dysbiosis, which may impair athletes' immune response and overall health.

  • Gut microbiome influences metabolism within skeletal muscle that are vital to athletic performance:

    1. Number of benefits associated with short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) about skeletal muscle, including increased carbohydrate uptake, lipid metabolism and fatty acid oxidation.

    2. The protein metabolism within the gut microbiota enhances the supply of amino acids and production of SCFAs which have been observed to beneficially impact lean muscle mass.

    3. The gut microbiome has the potential to affect energy metabolism by engaging specific pathways in response to nutrients (mTOR and AMPK) including ketogenesis, muscle catabolism/anabolism, and lipogenesis.

  • Practical recommendations for optimizing gut microbiota of performance development in athletes:

    1. Training routine should align with the physical and psychological capacity of the athlete.

    2. Stool samples taken with performance analysis.

    3. Probiotics supplementation should carry on for up to three months, if positive effects fail to materialize, supplementation can be broken off.

    4. Athletes should include a variety of fiber-rich foods daily.

    5. Fermented foods should be consumed daily with a balanced diet.

  • Reference:

    1. Nolte, S., Krüger, K., Lenz, C., & Zentgraf, K. (2023). Optimizing the gut microbiota for individualized performance development in Elite Athletes. Biology, 12(12), 1491. https://doi.org/10.3390/biology12121491

    2. O’Brien, M. T., O’Sullivan, O., Claesson, M. J., & Cotter, P. D. (2022). The Athlete Gut Microbiome and its relevance to health and performance: A Review. Sports Medicine, 52(S1), 119–128. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-022-01785-x

    3. Wegierska, A. E., Charitos, I. A., Topi, S., Potenza, M. A., Montagnani, M., & Santacroce, L. (2022). The connection between physical exercise and gut microbiota: Implications for competitive sports athletes. Sports Medicine, 52(10), 2355–2369. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-022-01696-x.