Nutritional Habits of Flemish Adolescent Sprint Athletes

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism

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Dirk Aerenhouts
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Marcel Hebbelinck
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Jacques R. Poortmans
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Peter Clarys
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Purpose and Methods:

To investigate dietary habits of Flemish adolescent track and field athletes using a 7-d weighed-food record. Besides adequacy for growth, development, and physical performance, dietary health aspects were considered.

Results:

Twenty-nine girls and 31 boys, with minimum 2 yr of track and field training practice, were recruited. All participants had daily breakfast (girls 22.5% ± 5.5% of total energy intake [TEI]; boys 19.8% ± 7.3%). Fruit in girls and juices and sports drinks in boys were consumed mostly between meals (girls 21.3% ± 8.1% of TEI; boys 24.3% ± 10.1%). Soft drinks contributed considerably to energy intake between meals in both sexes. Protein intake (1.5 ± 0.3 g · kg–1 · d−1 for both sexes) was within the recommended daily intake (RDI) for strength athletes. Mean daily carbohydrate intake in girls was lower than in boys (girls 5.1 ± 1.1 g/kg; boys 6.0 ± 0.9 g/kg), with mono- and disaccharides contributing 26% to TEI in both sexes. Total fat intake was above 30% of TEI in more than half the participants, and only 10 participants had a saturated-fat intake below 10% of TEI. Fiber intake (girls 23.7 ± 7.9 g; boys 29.1 ± 11.2 g) was far below the Belgian RDI. Intake of vitamins and minerals were generally low, despite micronutrient supplementation in 37.5% of the participants.

Conclusion:

Few athletes reached all nutrient RDIs. Unhealthy food habits with regard to refined sugars, fat, and micronutrients were observed. These adolescent sprinters should be encouraged to consume more nonsweetened beverages, fruits, and vegetables.

The authors are with the Dept. of Human Biometry and Biomechanics, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium.

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