Eat your way to the top – nutrition review in elite rowing.

This week’s post is going to be technical, let’s state that from the start, but stay with us. You can take as much or as little as you would like out of the information but even a glance at some of the supplement and macro-nutrient info should be useful, as it is to consider just what demands training and racing have on our bodies or to get an insight into what life at the elite end looks like.

As we know, rowing is tough sport, with training volumes of up to 24 hr/week for elites and a good mix of aerobic but also power demands to contend with. Unlike other sports with high aerobic training volumes such as cycling or triathlon, the open-weight rower’s size and muscularity exacerbates already substantial energy requirements. Heavyweight rowers are not lithe jogging machines, they are aerobic but also jacked! The most recently published self-reported energy intakes for rowers range from ~3,700 to 4,900 kcal and ~2,380 to 3,000 kcal for open weight men and women, respectively. That’s a lot but so is the energy demand. This compares to 2,504 kcal daily for the average male in 2010 and 1,771 kcal for women (for those who measure in kilojoules times this by 4.184 to covert as needed).

The article attached details an analysis of the elite rower’s metabolic demands and discusses nutrition from a performance and well being sense and works through a number of supplements in a scientifically sound manner. It also offers some great advice for supplement consideration.

“Supplementation, whether for health or performance reasons, should be considered on an individual athlete basis and must be undertaken in consultation with the athlete and coach, and under the guidance of the sports science and sports medicine team.
-Are the supplements banned by the World Anti- Doping Agency (you can check at
-Are there negative side effects or interactions when consumed alone or in combination with other products?
-Is the supplement easy to administer and incorporate into training/competition nutrition plans?”

All good points,Β  you can also read some more practical and down to earth information on protein use from one of our earlier blogs – Maximum Gains.

Probiotics are given a good wrap and, inline with other research that has been circulated in the last few years, they seem like a good bet for enhanced immune function and potentially flow on positive effects for skeletal muscle adaptation and regeneration.Β  Less upper respiratory illnesses and potentially better muscle responses to exercise sound very promising!

As the article concludes; “given the demanding nature of rowing training loads, and considering the complexity of an individual’s response to
training and nutrition interventions, individualized and flexible performance nutrition planning is essential.” Of course this is aimed at the elite but many learnings can be taken for athletes at all levels. What we put in has a huge effect on our outputs when it counts most and more education can only be of help so read on – hit the link:

Nutrition & Supplements For Elite Open Weight Rowers


Thanks to;

Susan Boegman, and Christine E. Dziedzic from the American College of Sports Medicine for this interesting article.