Energy expenditure, dietary intake and nutritional knowledge of elite, school-aged gymnasts
Objective. To compare energy balance and nutrient intake of elite and non-elite school-aged gymnasts, as well as to evaluate their nutritional knowledge and eating attitude and its effect on dietary intake and practices. Methods. Demographic information, anthropometric measurements, menstrual status, sources of nutritional information, nutritional habits as well as supplement use was documented. Eating attitudes were measured by the EAT26 test and nutritional knowledge by a standardised questionnaire. Dietary intake and practices were determined with a 3-day weighed food record, while energy expenditure was measured with an Actical® accelerometer (Mini Mitter Co., Inc. Bend, OR, USA). Results. The total daily energy intake (non-elite = 6 944.37 ± 1 272.28 kJ vs. elite = 6 543.01 ± 2 570 kJ) in both groups was similar to their daily energy expenditure values (non-elite = 6 393.77 ± 1 244.19 kJ vs. elite = 6 696.09 ± 1 676.58 kJ). Elite gymnasts tended to have higher protein (21.37 vs. 15.4% total energy intake (TE), small effect size, d = 0.1) and lower fat (28.9 vs. 33.6% TE, medium effect size, d = - 0.6) intakes. More non-elite gymnasts (n = 7, 88.88%) used micronutrient supplements than elite gymnasts (n = 4, 45.45%, medium effect size, d = 0.45). Most of the gymnasts (55%) ate snacks during the day, which consisted mostly of refined carbohydrates. In the total group of gymnasts the most frequently used source of nutritional information was the coach (60%). There was no difference in nutritional knowledge between the groups (elite = 61.8% vs. non-elite = 62.8% respectively). Lastly, elite gymnasts had a practically significantly higher risk than non-elite gymnasts to follow a diet (large effect size, d = 1.32), while non-elite gymnasts exercised practically significantly more self-control over their food intake com pared to elite gymnasts (large effect size, d = - 1.03). Conclusions. South African elite gymnasts do not differ from non-elite gymnasts in terms of energy-, carbohydrate-, protein-, or fat intake. There is also no difference in energy expenditure or risk in developing an eating disorder, probably due to less competitiveness compared to other international gymnasts.
- Health Sciences