Analysis Of Habitual Energy And Nutritient Intake Of Well-trained Triathletes

Por: L. Medijainen, S. Timpmann e V. Oopik.

Athens 2004: Pre-olympic Congress

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Introduction
Nutrition is among the major factors contributing to health and well-being of an individual. Moreover, it is commonly
recognised that besides genetics and exercise training proper nutrition forms the foundation for physical performance.
Thus, designing an optimal nutrition plan is of great importance for any athlete wishing to excel in sport. Valid
information on nutritional habits of athletes and on nutritional demands of the training activities they are involved in, is
a prerequisite for a sensible regulation of nutrition. Therefore, the present study was undertaken with the aim of
evaluating the adequacy of the habitual energy and nutrient intake of well-trained Estonian triathletes.

Methods
A group of nine well-trained male triathletes [age 22.6(5.4) years] volunteered for the study. The subjects were
instructed and trained to keep detailed 7-day weighing-based food diaries. The nutritional data collected by this method
was analysed using Micro-Nutrica 2.0 software, developed in Finland and adopted for use in Estonia at Tallinn
Technical University [1]. The body mass of subjects was measured at the beginning as well as at the end of the 7-day
period of investigation. The study was carried out during the preparatory stage of the year-round training cycle of the
athletes. The training load of the subjects was assessed on the basis of their individual training diaries.

Results
The mean body mass of the group of triathletes [80.5 (11.4) kg at the beginning and 79.7(9.0) kg at the end of the 7-day
study period, p>0.05, paired samples t-test] did not change. The mean as well as individual daily energy and selected
nutrient intake is shown in Table 1. The mean daily intake of energy, protein and carbohydrate relative to body mass of
the subjects was 46.4(11.1) kcal·kg-1, 1.6(0.5) g·kg-1 and 6.0(1.3) g·kg-1, respectively.

Discussion / Conclusions
Considerable inter-individual variability in energy as well as nutrient intake was evident among the triathletes studied.
Taking into account the training load of our subjects an energy intake of > 50 kcal·kg-1 ·24h-1 could be considered as
their minimum requirement [2]. However, there were only three subjects out of nine who exceeded this level. In five
subjects the intake of carbohydrate was apparently suboptimal - less than 6 g·kg-1 ·24h-1. However, stable body mass
throughout the study period suggests that the subjects were able to maintain energy balance. The results of the present
study suggest that further analysis of the nutritional needs and nutritional behaviour of the triathletes is warranted.

References
[1]. Micro Nutrica. Manual (1977) Tallinn Technical University
[2]. Economos CD et al. (1993). Sports Med ,16, 381-399.

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