Date of Award

8-11-2020

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Nutrition

First Advisor

Rafaela G. Feresin

Second Advisor

Anita M. Nucci

Third Advisor

J. Andrew Doyle

Abstract

Background: Studies examining the dietary intake of collegiate athletes agree that common nutritional problems exists that put this population at high risk for nutrient and energy deficiencies. Additionally, nutrition knowledge deficit has been associated with improper dietary fueling in collegiate athletes. Furthermore, collegiate athletes often rely on coaches and athletic trainers for nutrition information, yet studies have shown that 64.1% of coaches and 28.6% of athletic trainers have inadequate nutrition knowledge.

Objectives: To assess nutritional intake, body composition, sports nutrition knowledge, and nutrition sources knowledge of NCAA Division I female volleyball players.

Methods: Nutritional intake was assessed using three-day food records during the pre-, during- and post-season while a 24-hour interview recall was used in the off-season. Daily average energy, carbohydrate, protein, fat, and specific vitamins and minerals intakes were analyzed using Food Processor 11.1. These values were compared to the recommendations from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). Sports nutrition knowledge was assessed using an 87-question validated nutrition for sports knowledge questionnaire (NSKQ). Athletes were also asked to state their sources for nutrition knowledge. Body composition was assessed using bioelectrical impedance analysis.

Results: Fourteen female volleyball players (age: 19.6 ± 1.3 y, height: 69 ± 3 in, weight: 73 ± 8.5 kg, BMI: 24.1 ± 3 kg/m2; body fat: 25 ± 3%) participated in this study in the pre-season with five having completed all four time-points. Athletes’ mean energy intake across all 14 participants in the pre-season was 25 ± 6.4 kcal/kg BW/day, while carbohydrate, protein and fat intake were 3 ± 0.9, 1.3 ± 0.4, and 0.9 ± 0.3 g/kg BW/day, respectively. Vitamin D intake was 137 ± 91 IU/day and calcium intake was 673 ± 353 mg/day. Energy and carbohydrate intake were lower than the ACSM recommendations (37-41 kcal/kg BW/day and 6-10 g/kg BW/day, respectively). Protein intake fell within the recommended ranges (1.2-1.7 g/kg BW/day). Additionally, vitamin D and calcium were lower than their established recommendations. Likewise, the off-season dietary intake followed similar trends. The average NSKQ score was 45 ± 9.6%, which is below the adequate score of 75%, and was found to be positively associated with pre-season weight (r = 0.738, p = 0.003) and vitamin D intake (r = 0.587, p = 0.03). Four athletes included a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) as a source of nutrition information. In contrast, twelve athletes listed athletic trainers as a source.

Conclusions: The athletes in this study did not meet the established recommendations for adequate energy, carbohydrates, or select vitamins and minerals. Further, the athletes’ average NSKQ scores reflect inadequate sports nutrition knowledge. Taken together with the information that the athletes’ current nutrition knowledge is not wholly derived from professionals with the appropriate nutrition training, our team suggests that nutrition education provided by an expert in the field will improve dietary intake, health, and ultimately, sports performance.

Funding Sources: There are no funding sources.

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