Competitive Swimming and Nutrition

It is well understood that the adoption of healthy eating by adolescent athletes is imperative for normal growth as well as enhancing sports performance. Unfortunately, very little data is available on the nutritional adequacy of adolescent athletes, including those that engage in competitive swimming. For this reason, researchers from the University of Memphis undertook a cross-sectional study to examine the diets of 96 adolescent competitive swimmers (aged between 13 and 16 years). In completing the study, swimmers completed a demographic questionnaire, 12 month physical activity assessment, 12 month food frequency questionnaire and assessment for pubertal status. Results of this study identified the following:

• Swimmers consumed significantly more protein, dairy, iron and calcium than non-swimmers
• Swimmers consumed no more than 30 percent of their energy intake from fat, and no more than 10 percent of energy from saturated fat.
• Interestingly, and perhaps concerning, swimmers were found to consume inadequate fibre, fruits and vegetables.

On account of this study, researchers explored the impact of a nutrition workshop on improving adherence to a Mediterranean Diet (MD) (rich in vegetables), and nutrition knowledge among adolescent swimmers. In this follow up study, healthy adolescent swimmers (aged 13-19) participated in a half-day educational workshop with emphasis on MD. Adherence to an MD diet was assessed utilising the KIDMED index at baseline and at 6 weeks post workshop. Results of the intervention showed an improvement in nutrition knowledge, significant increase in the consumption of vegetables, olive oil, pulses and fish, with a significant reduction in food consumed in fast food stores. This being so, a short educational workshop can improve adherence to healthy eating behaviours with possible implications for the health and performance of adolescent competitive swimmers.

If you have any questions regarding this post, or would like me to speak to your team of athletes please make contact:
A: Mark Hinchey Naturopathy and Sports Nutrition, 601 Glebe Road Adamstown, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia.
P: 0432234822 (all appointments)

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