It is not uncommon for athletes to head to altitude for blocks of training ahead of major competition or events. It is important to remember that when at altitude, the conditions put extra stress on the body. This means there is a need to change your nutritional practise to prevent illness.

1. Drink More

At altitude we breathe more frequently, this coupled with the dry air means a lot more fluid is lost through breathing than in normal conditions. Remember, as little as 2% loss of body weight due to dehydration can affect sporting performance (read more about hydration here). Athletes are usually advised to monitor dehydration rate by how much they sweat, but at altitude sweat is evaporated very quickly tricking us into thinking hydration is not an issue. Again because of this it is important to drink more than you would at sea level.
We would advise that you even hydrate during shorter training sessions where you may not usually take a drink. Using OTE Hydro Tabs during and around your training will help to promote rehydration. It is always a good idea to check your urine colour after to training and make sure you hydrate properly as a crucial part of recovery.

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2. Don't be surprised if you lose you appetite

Hypoxia, which is a deficiency in the amount of oxygen reaching our body tissue, has been found to reduce appetite. However, making sure you are getting the correct fuel at altitude is vital as your body is having to work harder to exercise. Due to loss of appetite it becomes more important than ever to be organised and have the availability of high carbohydrate foods that you enjoy and are happy to consume. You need to reduce barriers to fuelling and make sure you are disciplined and eat when you have to, not when you want to. In this situation OTE energy gels are great as they are easy to consume, don’t have an over powering or overly sweet taste and contain electrolytes to promote rehydration.

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3. Simple, you use more energy at Altitude

At altitude our bodies basal metabolic rate, which is how much energy we need to lie on a bed and do nothing, is much higher. This is especially apparent in the first few days at altitude. So if your body needs more energy to do nothing, then it certainly needs more when exercising. The energy systems you use alter too. Where before you may have used a high percentage of your fat stores to fuel your endurance exercise, now your body has a greater reliance on carbohydrates.

A good idea to combat this, plus the addition of appetite suppression, is to eat high carbohydrate snacks/meal little and often. Never over-facing yourself with a large plate full but constantly supplying your body with energy. OTE energy drinks can be great for when training as they are refreshing and aid hydration, but also are supplying you with 40g of carbohydrates per 500ml bottle. This coupled with some real food (such as bananas) or easy to consume and convenient OTE energy gels can help to ensure you are reaching your carbohydrate needs.

4. Top up your iron stores

One of the main reason endurance athletes train at altitude is for the training adaptions it gives you. As your body tries to adapt to hypoxia it actually produces more red blood cells to help supply our working muscles with more oxygen. Thus improving an athlete’s oxygen carrying capacity and therefore endurance capacity. However, haemoglobin (required for the oxygen to bind to) needs iron to be produced by the body. Making sure your diet is rich in iron before heading to altitude and whilst at altitude is always a good idea to make sure you are making the most of the potential training adaptions. Food such as red meat, shell fish, turkey, spinach, lentil and beans are all good sources of iron.

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5. Up your efforts to look after your immune system

We already know that intense periods of exercise can put stress on our bodies and consequently our immune system can be weakened. When training at altitude even more stress is placed on the body meaning the immune system is put under extra strain, therefore it is even more important to make sure you look after it. Things like getting showered and changed straight after training, keeping your living area clean and sterilizing bottles after use are all good practise. Put a big emphasis on improving general hygiene. Similarly an emphasis needs to be put on supplying your body with a rich mix of vitamins and minerals. Using OTE’s Super Greens and Health & Immune capsules alongside a well-balanced diet is a great way to make sure you are satisfying all your bodies needs at altitude

Intermittent Hypoxic Training: Part One
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The Nutrition of a Tour de France Rider
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