• 25 meters to 400 meters, lasting 3 seconds to 1 minute

If you are a sprinter, your main energy source is the anaerobic metabolism of glucose (70 to 90% of energy), which is stored in the body as glycogen. A much smaller amount of energy comes from aerobic metabolism of fat (10 to 30%). Therefore, a sprinter will need a higher percentage of carbohydrates in their diet in order to ensure adequate glycogen stores.

Small amounts of fat are still required in order to meet their requirements for aerobic metabolism as well as the body’s requirement for essential fatty acids.

For a Sprinter, I recommend a diet where:

  • 70% of calories come from carbohydrates
  • 15% of calories come from protein
  • 15% of calories come from fat

Since most people are not equipped to easily calculate percent calories in their diet, I have converted these percentages into a ratio of grams of carbohydrate to protein of 4.4:1 and a ratio of grams of fat to protein of 0.5 to

  • This way, you can check your intake by tallying totals from the number of grams listed in the nutritional labeling on your food packages.

A good example for a Sprinter: 
A 73 kilogram(160 lb) male whose basic metabolic requirements are 3200 calories per day, would need to consume 550 grams of carbohydrate, 125 grams of protein, and 54 grams of fat per day just for the energy they need to go about their daily activities. Add to this the total of calories burned per day in training and competition, with protein, carbohydrate and fat divided out in the same ratios, to get the total requirements for the day.

The above recommendations for a sprinter is quite different from that recommended in many sprinting texts, which often recommend the “Zone Diet” approach of 40% of calories from carbohydrate, 30% of calories from protein, and 30% of calories from fat. In these sprinting texts, it’s stated that the high protein levels are required in order to prevent the secretion of insulin which will drop the blood glucose levels.


You can also prevent the secretion of insulin by following a low glycemic load diet. An excellent comprehensive table of glycemic index and glycemic load was published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2002 and is available Here.

Important Note: 

I have personally tried this high protein “Zone” diet and found it makes you very constipated due to the high protein level, which can eventually lead to problems such as diverticulitis and colon cancer. It also recommends an unhealthy high level of fat, which can eventually lead to high cholesterol levels and atherosclerosis.

The high level of protein combined with a low level of carbohydrates will also cause your glycogen stores to become depleted and lead to the formation of ketone bodies, which in turn lead to keto-acidosis, which has been known to cause race horses to die on the track. This is based on a high protein diet; however, the levels of carbohydrate in this diet are not high enough to efficiently convert dietary protein into muscle. As a result, some of the protein is wasted. It is also my opinion that the high levels of protein and fat clog the muscles, and this type of diet is the main reason that many top-level sprinters have to soak in a bath of ice water after every practice in order to keep their muscles from cramping.

I do not recommend the “40 – 30 – 30” (“Zone”) diet to anyone under any circumstances whether they are a sprinter, middle distance runner, marathon runner or couch potato. Sprinters who have adequate carbohydrates in their diet, as in the ratios recommended above, do not need to carb load before competition. Those who follow fad diets like the Zone Diet, however, will need to carb load the week before a competition in order to ensure adequate carbohydrate stores for competition.

Learn more about Middle Distance Runners.

Contact Dr. Millar Today, Email or Call 519-663-1166!