Maintaining Immune Function in Athletes

What a crazy time it has been! Different schedules, different environments, different challenges – all of which are impacting how we exercise and how we eat and, more importantly, how we interact with each other.

In all of this confusion, maintaining a high immune function has been top of mind for many. Here at Compeat Nutrition, we are all about performance nutrition and creating long-lasting habits so we’re the first to admit that we’re no experts in all things immunity. However, with nutrition playing such a major role, it would be remiss of us to not mention how you can continue to look after your immune function (particularly as we head into Winter in the lower parts of the world!)

Meeting both your energy and nutrients demands is especially important for immunity in the athlete, whether that be the elite or the everyday active individual. In this case, the body must deal with both the high volumes and intensities of training, but also the general stressors of life. In this case, the body has two main options: I can either adapt, improve, strengthen and thrive… or it can breakdown, weaken, struggle and de-train.

Nutrition may impact an athlete’s immunity directly if they are in a state of low energy availability for a prolonged period of time. With macro and micronutrients involved in so many immune function processes, a deficiency of these nutrients in the body can blunt your resilience against disease.

Check out our additional resources below for even more detail on this topic!


Additional Resources

David Pyne Podcast

We recently spoke to an absolute expert in this field, and that is the only way to put it.

David “Piney” Pyne is an Exercise Physiologist who has had extensive experience working at the AIS for 29 years with many many sports. He is just an incredible powerhouse of knowledge! David has a particular interest in the impact of exercise on immune function, which is something that has quite recently become a very relevant aspect of life to all of you out there. David is practical and pragmatic in his approach and boils down the wealth of literature into 3 main principles to focus on.  A few areas we touched on in this podcast include:

  • What immune function even means?
  • The impact of exercise on immune function
  • What should my load be like?
  • Is it okay to be doing High-intensity Interval Training?
  • The influence of inflammation on health
  • How to protect and strengthen your immune function


A reminder that we have an epic conference coming up in the 31st of April and the 1st of May We are bringing together a stellar line-up of speakers  to speak on all things performance. We bring in a lot of science but also a massive focus on resilience. All proceeds go towards projects in athlete wellbeing and an initiative to further the sports sciences profession. Check it out here:


Today, more than ever, we need to put resilience into action. We need to come together as a nurturing and supportive community of people who care about performance and each other.

Lock in your tickets today!

We look forward to ‘seeing’ you there…




References: Walsh, N. P. (2018). Recommendations to maintain immune health in athletes. European journal of sport science18(6), 820-831.

Alicia Edge


Alicia is the head Advanced Sports Dietitian at Compeat Nutrition. She is also a mum and triathlete, so advice extends beyond the basics and is instead focused on providing effective and achievable nutrition for both training and racing.

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