Purpose of review: This review presents current knowledge regarding the rationale and efficacy of nutrition as an ergogenic aid to enhance the effects of exercise and training in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Recent findings: Altered body composition and skeletal muscle dysfunction in COPD suggest that exercise capacity can be targeted via several metabolic routes. Muscle metabolic alterations in COPD include a reduced oxidative metabolism and enhanced susceptibility for oxidative stress. Muscle wasting may be associated with deficiencies of vitamin D and low branched-chain amino acid levels. Exercise training is of established benefit in COPD but clear-cut clinical trial evidence to support the performance enhancing effect of nutritional intervention is lacking. One randomized controlled trial suggested that augmentation of training with polyunsaturated fatty acids may improve exercise capacity. Conflicting results are reported on dietary creatine supplementation in patients with COPD receiving pulmonary rehabilitation and results from acute intervention studies do not directly imply long-term effects of glutamate or glutamine supplementation as an ergogenic aid in COPD. Recent data indicate that not only muscle but also visceral fat may be an important additional target for combined nutrition and exercise intervention in COPD to improve physical performance and decrease cardiometabolic risk.
Summary: There is a clear need for adequately powered and controlled intervention and maintenance trials to establish the role of nutritional supplementation in the enhancement of exercise performance and training and the wider management of the systemic features of the disease.