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Michelle Walsh, Laura Cartwright, Clare Corish, Sheila Sugrue and Ruth Wood-Martin

Purpose:

This study examined the body composition, nutritional knowledge, behaviors, attitudes, and educational needs of senior schoolboy rugby players in Ireland.

Methods:

Participants included 203 male rugby players age 15–18 yr competing at Senior School’s Cup level in Leinster, Ireland. Estimation of body composition included measurement of height, weight, and percentage body fat (PBF; using bioelectrical impedance analysis, Tanita BC-418). Nutritional knowledge, behaviors, attitudes, and education needs were assessed by questionnaire.

Results:

The range of PBF was 5.1–25.3%. Sixty-eight percent of the players in this study had a healthy PBF (10–20%), 32 (22%) were classified as underweight (<10% body fat), and 9.7% (n = 14) were overweight. Assessment of nutritional knowledge demonstrated poor knowledge of the foods required for refueling, appropriate use of sports drinks, and the role of protein in muscle formation. Alcohol consumption and dietary supplement use were reported by 87.7% and 64.5%, respectively. A perception that greater body size enhances sport performance did not predict dietary supplement use. Nutritional advice had been previously sought by 121 players from coaches (66.9%), magazines (42.1%), Web sites (38.8%), peers (35.5%), family (28.1%), sport organizations (16.5%), and health professionals (8.2%). Nutritional knowledge was no better in these players, nor did better nutritional knowledge correlate with positive dietary behaviors or attitudes.

Conclusions:

Most players had a healthy PBF. Despite a positive attitude toward nutrition, poor nutritional knowledge and dietary practices were observed in many players. Young athletes’ nutritional knowledge and dietary practices may benefit from appropriate nutritional education.

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Louise M. Burke, Clare Wood, David B. Pyne, Richard D. Telford and Philo U. Saunders

Eighteen highly-trained runners ran two half marathons in mild environmental conditions, 3 wk apart, consuming either 426 ± 227 mL of a flavored placebo drink (PLACEBO) or an equivalent volume of water (386 ± 185 mL) and a commercial gel (GEL) supplying 1.1 ± 0.2 g/kg body mass (BM) carbohydrate (CHO). Voluntary consumption of this fluid was associated with a mean BM change of ~ 2.4%. Runners performed better in their second race by 0.9% or 40 s (P = 0.03). Three runners complained of gastrointestinal discomfort in GEL trial, which produced a clear impairment of half-marathon performance by 2.4% or 105 s (P = 0.03 ) . The effect of GEL on performance was trivial: time was improved b y 0.3% or 14 s compared with PLACEBO (P = 0.52). Consuming the gel was associated with a 2.4% slower time through the 2 × 200 m feed zone; adding a trivial ~ 2 s to race time. Although benefits to half marathon performance were not detected, the theoretical improvement during 1-h exercise with CHO intake merits further investigation.

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Martin C. Waller, Deborah A. Kerr, Martyn J. Binnie, Emily Eaton, Clare Wood, Terreen Stenvers, Daniel F. Gucciardi, Carmel Goodman and Kagan J. Ducker

The authors aimed to update knowledge of the use of supplements among Australian athletes at a state-based sports institute. The authors conducted a cross-sectional survey using an online questionnaire to assess the influence of age, sports category, and scholarship category on supplement use. Of 94 completed questionnaires, 82 (87%) indicated supplements in the previous 12 months (mean = 4.9 ± 3.3). No significant difference in supplement usage rate was identified when considering age, scholarship category, or sport category. The most frequently used supplements were sports drinks (70%), caffeine (48%), protein powder (42%), and sports bars (42%). Recovery (63%), health maintenance (59%), and improved energy (50%) were the most frequently reported rationale to use supplements. Allied health professionals and credible online resources were the predominant sources of influence regarding use. However, athletes from lower scholarship categories were more likely to have social media, parents, and siblings influence usage, and age was inversely related to increased influence from parents, social media, physicians not associated with the institute, the Internet, and siblings. Older athletes and those on higher scholarships were more likely to source supplements from training facilities and sports nutrition staff outside of the institute or direct from a supplier, whereas those on lower scholarships tended to rely more on family and friends for their supplements. Findings from this study show a high prevalence of supplement use and are the first to show an influence of social media, particularly in younger athletes. Opportunities exist to optimize how athletes are informed regarding supplement use and organizational and supplement policy.