Coaches Corner Nutritional Advice for Elite Ultimate by Lloyd Cheesman

Food is fuel, and being correctly fuelled will ensure that your body is able to work at it's optimal level.


The following nutritional advice has been constructed using recent findings from scientific studies, references for such studies will be included at the end. Most nutrition guides are dry, wordy and lack solid recommendations. Therefore, I have made a concerted effort to make this document relevant, concise and directly applicable to your own diets. A summary of my findings are at the foot of this page.

Assumptions throughout document are that all players wish to:

  • Be optimally fuelled for best performance in all training sessions and competition
  • Maintain or increase muscle mass
  • Maintain or reduce body fat


Macronutrients are the 3 essential constituents of our diet: Carbohydrates, Proteins, Fats. Read the separate sections on each, and then the recommendations guide.

Vegetarian Diets

Sources of protein are the only key differences between vegetarian and regular diets, however, looking at the ‘Protein Sources’ tables on the Protein Requirements for Athletes page, there are plenty of other quality protein sources other than meats.

Quorn is a popular meat replacement food and is in fact comprised of a type of fungus, commercially known as Mycoprotein and egg white. According to Mycoprotein manufacturers, it has a similar essential amino acid content to eggs per 100g (classed as a high quality protein option) and is lower in fat than meats such as beef or pork.


2 liters of water a day is recommended in order to remain hydrated on a daily basis. Drops in hydration
status can cause lack of concentration, mental fatigue and increased perceived exertion (i.e. the exercise
feels more tiring).

If you want to know your specific hydration needs after exercise you should weigh yourself before
and after exercise and consume 1.5 liters of fluid (water or carbohydrate drink) for every 1kg of
weight lost.


Despite common views on caffeine, it does not significantly alter hydration status. In fact, only a mild effect
on hydration has been shown to occur when 300mg is taken at once, that is the equivalent to 3-4 cups of
coffee. During exercise, some athletes might find a benefit from caffeine as it can improve alertness and in
some cases can lower perceived exertion. However, caffeine can also cause involuntary shaking and (in
large doses) cause stomach cramps. If an athlete plans to use caffeine they should gradually introduce to
their diet in training sessions before competition.


Alcohol provides no health benefits. However, it can cause dehydration, lead to unhealthy cravings and
impede muscle growth. Alcohol should be avoided during a competition and, if at all, taken in moderation
in daily life.


No vitamins, to date, have been found to improve performance, however a deficiency of many vitamins
can lead to negative health issues. Vitamins C and B are found in fruits, vegetables (including potatoes),
grains and dairy, and cannot be made by the body so need to be consumed more frequently than others;
boiling can cause these foods to lose vitamin content. Vitamins A, D, E and K can be attained in vegetable
oils, dairy foods, eggs and fish.

Energy Deficit

Performing exercise on a low energy diet will encourage fat burning, which can be useful in individual fitness
sessions outside of Ultimate training.

Avoiding Stomach Cramps and ‘Stitches’

If the energy concentration of a carbohydrate mixture is too high – for example: excessive amounts of poor quality simple sugars – the stomach will empty very slowly and the intestine will absorb the sugars (simple carbohydrates)
slowly, this can cause stomach cramps and stitches, it also delays energy uptake into the system. This digestive process can be helped by consuming water and sodium (a common electrolyte). The mixture of water, sodium and the large quantity of carbohydrate can then be absorbed more quickly, the new concentration is known as ‘Isotonic’.

Isotonic sports drinks and energy gels are the appropriate concentration already and so do not require extra water or electrolytes.

Other foods which can cause cramps and slow digestion are fats and fibre, these should be avoided shortly before and during exercise to allow the quick movement of simple carbohydrates and water. As mentioned earlier, applying nutritional strategies in training can allow for the digestive system to adapt well in advance of competition, and therefore should be considered by all athletes.

Summary of Fat Loss and Muscle Gain

If an athlete is planning to lose fat but maintain muscle mass, daily carbohydrate intake should be reduced
(approximately 3-4g per kgbw daily) and protein intake increased (approximately 1.8-2.7g per kgbw daily).

In summary, excessive energy consumption will likely lead to fat gain, but plentiful energy supply for
training and muscle building. On the other hand, inadequate energy consumption will, most probably, lead
to unsatisfactory energy supply for performance, physical & mental fatigue and lesser muscle growth,
with increased amount of fat burnt as fuel. The aim, as an athlete, is to find a balance between the two.

General Advice Summary

  • Consume complex carbohydrates on a daily basis and avoid simple carbohydrates (sugars) when not
  • Consume simple carbohydrates around training (pre, during and post).
  • Lean and high quality protein sources are the best for daily intake and post exercise.
  • Vegetarian diets only differ in terms of protein content, however, there are plenty of high-quality
    protein sources which can provide all essential amino acids for recovery other than meats.
  • Fat intake is healthy within moderation; the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is 70g. Fat consumption above the RDA will not benefit performance.
  • Food sources can provide all the nutrition that supplements can without the risks of contamination,
    however if you are set on using supplements ensure they are ‘Informed Sport’ batch-tested and
  • Weigh yourself before and after exercise. Replace each kilogram lost with 1.5 liters of fluid in order
    to fully rehydrate the body.
  • Caffeine in quantities less than 300mg will not effect hydration.
  • Alcohol should be avoided or taken in moderation.
  • Vitamin deficiencies will cause health issues (to avoid this, eat fruits, vegetables, fish, eggs & dairy).
  • Do not consume moderate to large volumes of fat or fiber shortly before or during exercise.
  • For fat loss periods: daily carbohydrate intake should be reduced to approximately 3-4g per kg of bodyweight (kgbw) and protein intake increased to approximately 1.8-2.7g per kgbw.


Burke, L. M., Hawley, J. A., Wong, S. H. S., & Jeukendrup, A. (2011). Carbohydrates for training and
competition. Journal of Sports Sciences.

Hawley, J. A., Schabort, E. J., Noakes, T. D., & Dennis, S. C. (1997). Carbohydrate loading and exercise
performance: An update. Sports Medicine, 24, 73–81.

Tsintzas, K., & Williams, C. (1998). Human muscle glycogen metabolism during exercise: Effect of
carbohydrate supplementation. Sports Medicine, 25, 7–23.

Mujika, I., & Burke, L. M. (2011). Nutrition in team sports. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 57(Suppl.
2), 26-35.

Phillips, S., & Van Loon, L. (2011) Dietary protein for athletes: From requirements to optimum adaptation,
Journal of Sports Sciences, 29:sup1, S29-S38

Burke, L. M., & Kiens, B. (2006). “Fat adaptation” for athletic performance: the nail in the coffin?. Journal
of Applied Physiology, 100(1), 7-8.

Holway, F., & Spriet, L. (2011) Sport-specific nutrition: Practical strategies for team sports, Journal of
Sports Sciences, 29:sup1, S115-S125

Williams, C., & Rollo, I. (2015). Carbohydrate Nutrition and Team Sport Performance. Sports Medicine,
45(1), 13-22.

Casey, A., Constantin-Teodosiu, D., Howell, S., Hultman, E. G. P. L., & Greenhaff, P. L. (1996). Creatine
ingestion favorably affects performance and muscle metabolism during maximal exercise in humans.

American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology And Metabolism, 271(1), E31-E37.


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