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The Mediterranean dietary pattern for optimising health and performance in competitive athletes: A narrative review

Lookup NU author(s): Petros Akin-Nibosun, Professor Emma Stevenson, Dr Oliver Shannon



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


© 2021 Cambridge University Press. All rights reserved. Nutrition plays a key role in training for, and competing in, competitive sport, and is essential for reducing risk of injury and illness, recovering and adapting between bouts of activity, and enhancing performance. Consumption of a Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) has been demonstrated to reduce risk of various non-communicable diseases and increase longevity. Following the key principles of a MedDiet could also represent a useful framework for good nutrition in competitive athletes under most circumstances, with potential benefits for health and performance parameters. In this review, we discuss the potential effects of a MedDiet, or individual foods and compounds readily available in this dietary pattern, on oxidative stress and inflammation, injury and illness risk, vascular and cognitive function, and exercise performance in competitive athletes. We also highlight potential modifications which could be made to the MedDiet (whilst otherwise adhering to the key principles of this dietary pattern) in accordance with contemporary sports nutrition practices, to maximise health and performance effects. In addition, we discuss potential directions for future research.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Griffiths A, Matu J, Whyte E, Akin-Nibosun P, Clifford T, Stevenson E, Shannon OM

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of Nutrition

Year: 2022

Volume: 128

Issue: 7

Pages: 1285-1298

Print publication date: 14/10/2022

Online publication date: 23/08/2021

Acceptance date: 17/08/2021

ISSN (print): 0007-1145

ISSN (electronic): 1475-2662

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S0007114521003202