Master athletes are defined as aging athletes that are no longer competitive in their sports division. These athletes transition into a new title: veteran or masters athlete. There are many masters divisions broken up into different age groups relative to their sport; however, let’s concentrate on the category of 50 years of age or older.
Physical activity is important for all ages and is a key factor in living a healthy lifestyle. It is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that all adult Americans ages 65 and older get 150 minutes of moderate activity every week and perform muscle-strengthening activities for major muscle groups at least two or more times per week. Master athletes not only meet, but exceed the physical activity recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as they diligently train to compete in their desired sports. Participation in competitive sports at the master’s level has proven to have both physical and psychological benefits. These benefits include decreased overall mortality, decreased resting blood pressure, decreased risk of cardiovascular disease, enhanced productivity of older adults, promoting a positive and active image of older adults, increased bone mass, enhanced relaxation and many others.
For many athletes including master athletes, it is sometimes confusing to know what nutritional guidelines to follow to help with peak performance. For most adults our caloric needs begin to decrease due to a decrease in basal metabolic rate as we age. However, many research studies have concluded that this is not true in the case of master athletes who continue to vigorously exercise. Estimated Energy Requirements for older adults vary based on factors such as activity level, age, sex and possible disease states. See the table below for Estimated Energy Requirements for Active Older Adults.
Age Group Men, kcal/day Women, kcal/day
50-59 2,757 2,186
60-69 2,657 2,116
70-79 2,557 2,046
80-89 2,457 1,976
The table above is a great resource for master athletes to follow; however, some master athletes could require more calories. Carbohydrate needs for masters athletes have not yet been defined; however, the guidelines used for younger athletes are recommended at this time. These guidelines include: 3 to 5 grams/kg/day of carbohydrate for very light, low-intensity skill exercise, 5 to 7 grams/kg/day of carbohydrate for moderate-to-high intensity exercise, and 7 to 12 grams/kg/day for the increased needs of endurance athletes. Protein needs for the master athlete include 1.2 to 1.7 grams/kg. The recommended daily fat intake for master athletes is 1 gram/kg.
The above guidelines are provided for individuals who are vigorously training and practicing for competition and performance. It is important to note that aging adults over 50, who are not considered master athletes should not consume the above guidelines. Please refer to Myplate.gov for healthy guidelines and tips for the average aging American.
Rosenbloom, C.A., Coleman, E.J. Sports Nutrition A Practice Manual for Professionals 5th Edition. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2012.