Dietitian-Observed Macronutrient Intakes of Young Skill and Team-Sport Athletes: Adequacy of Pre, During, and Postexercise Nutrition

in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism
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Context:

Sports nutrition experts recommend that team-sport athletes participating in intermittent high-intensity exercise for ≥1 hr consume 1–4 g carbohydrate/kg 1–4 hr before, 30–60 g carbohydrate/hr during, and 1–1.2 g carbohydrate/kg/hr and 20–25 g protein as soon as possible after exercise. The study objective was to compare observed vs. recommended macronutrient intake of competitive athletes under free-living conditions.

Methods:

The dietary intake of 29 skill/team-sport athletes (14–19 y; 22 male, 7 female) was observed at a sports training facility by trained registered dietitians for one 24-hr period. Dietitians accompanied subjects to the cafeteria and field/court to record their food and fluid intake during meals and practices/competitions. Other dietary intake within the 24-hr period (e.g., snacks during class) was accounted for by having the subject take a picture of the food/fluid and completing a log.

Results:

For male and female athletes, respectively, the mean ± SD (and percent of athletes meeting recommended) macronutrient intake around exercise was 1.4 ± 0.6 (73%) and 1.4 ± 1.0 (57%) g carbohydrate/kg in the 4 hr before exercise, 21.1 ± 17.2 (18%) and 18.6 ± 13.2 (29%) g carbohydrate/hrr during exercise, 1.4 ± 1.1 (68%) and 0.9 ± 1.0 (43%) g carbohydrate/kg and 45.2 ± 36.9 (73%) and 18.0 ± 21.2 (43%) g protein in the 1 hr after exercise.

Conclusion:

The male athletes’ carbohydrate and protein intake more closely approximated recommendations overall than that of the female athletes. The most common shortfall was carbohydrate intake during exercise, as only 18% of male and 29% of female athletes consumed 30–60 g carbohydrate/hr during practice/competition.

The authors are with the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, Barrington, IL.

Address author correspondence to Lindsay B. Baker at lindsay.baker@pepsico.com.