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Medicina dello Sport 2017 March;70(1):69-83

DOI: 10.23736/S0025-7826.16.02945-8


language: English, Italian

How adequate are athletes’ diets?

Vanessa B. RODRIGUES 1, Christianne, de FARIA COELHO RAVAGNANI 2, Hellen C. NABUCO 3

1 Department of Nutrition, Federal University of Mato Grosso, Cuiabá, Brazil; 2 Department of Physical Education, Federal University of Mato Grosso, Cuiabá, Brazil; 3 Mato Grosso Federal Institute of Education, Cuiabá, Brazil


INTRODUCTION: An adequate intake of nutrients by athletes has a positive effect on their immune system, the process of recovery and muscle growth, bone mineral density and fatigue perception, among other aspects, which leads to improved performance in sports and general health. However, studies that describe the ingestion of nutrients in representative samples of athletes are scarce. This systematic review summarizes data on nutrient intake by athletes of different sports modalities, while comparing the same data with dietary recommendations for this specific population.
EVIDENCE ACQUISITION: Two authors independently performed a systematic search in three databases (SciELO, LILACS and Medline) from articles published in the period from 2010 to 2014. The PRISMA guidelines for systematic reviews were followed and quality of information of the articles was evaluated using the STROBE Initiative recommendations.
EVIDENCE SYNTHESIS: Seventeen articles were revised and all studies presented inadequacy in at least one macronutrient and/or energy. Eleven articles (44%) showed that researchers used a dietary record as their primary method of consumption assessment. All studies presented inadequacy in at least one macronutrient. The main inadequacies were for energy (88.9%) and carbohydrates (76.5%) which were below the recommendations. The proteins on the other hand, were within the recommendations in half of the articles (50.0%). In general, energy consumption ranged from 24 to 56 kcal/kg/day, and for proteins, carbohydrates and lipids consumption ranged from 0.9 to 2.5 g/kg/day, 3.1 to 9.7 g/kg/day, and 0.9 to 2.0 g/kg/day, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: Based on the reviewed data, dietary intake of athletes in different sports and countries presented inadequacies and requires greater attention among technicians and specialists. Research to evaluate the implications of nutrient inadequacy on the performance and health status of this population is needed, as well as discussion of these findings among health professionals.

KEY WORDS: Nutritional status - Athletic performance - Nutrition assessment - Nutritional requirements

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