Special Issue "Sport Nutrition Knowledge of Athletes and Implications for Dietary Habits, Nutrient Status and Energy Availability"

A special issue of Nutrients (ISSN 2072-6643). This special issue belongs to the section "Sports Nutrition".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 10 January 2022.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Andrew Jagim
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Mayo Clinic Health System, 700 West Ave S, La Crosse, WI 54601, USA
Interests: dietary supplements; pre-workout supplements; creatine; sport nutrition knowledge; dietary habits; energy availability; body composition

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Recent evidence has highlighted the growing concern among nutrition practitioners regarding the insufficient dietary habits of athletes. These dietary insufficiencies may contribute to a variety of conditions including relative energy deficiency in sport (REDs), female athlete triad, nutrient deficiencies, and a predisposition to injury and illness among athletes. REDs is underpinned by a continuous state of low energy availability and may contribute to a multifactorial state of physiological dysfunction including, but not limited to, menstrual dysfunction, impairments in metabolism, disruptions in bone health, reproductive health and cardiovascular health in both female and male athletes. Nutrition knowledge may play a causative role in the observed low energy and nutrient intakes among athletic populations, particularly among those without access to a dietician or nutrition resources to help facilitate positive dietary habits and food accessibility. This Special Issue may also be confounded by underlying body image/dissatisfaction concerns, thereby influencing dietary habits for aesthetic purposes. Therefore, this Special Issue will publish manuscripts that examine the potential relationships and causative roles of nutrition knowledge, body image/dissatisfaction and access to nutritional resources in the development of REDs, or associated nutritional insufficiencies such as low energy availability and specific nutrient deficiencies.

Dr. Andrew Jagim
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • sport nutrition knowledge
  • dietary habits
  • dietary intake
  • energy availability
  • nutrient status
  • relative energy deficiency in sport
  • energy balance

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

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Article
Energy-Adjusted Dietary Intakes Are Associated with Perceived Barriers to Healthy Eating but Not Food Insecurity or Sports Nutrition Knowledge in a Pilot Study of ROTC Cadets
Nutrients 2021, 13(9), 3053; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nu13093053 - 31 Aug 2021
Viewed by 724
Abstract
Military service is inherently demanding and, due to the nature of these demands, the term “tactical athlete” has been coined to capture the physical requirements of the profession. Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadets are a unique subset of the military service community, [...] Read more.
Military service is inherently demanding and, due to the nature of these demands, the term “tactical athlete” has been coined to capture the physical requirements of the profession. Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) cadets are a unique subset of the military service community, and the complexity of their training and educational pursuits increases their susceptibility to unhealthy eating patterns. The purpose of this pilot study was to explore the relationship between the perceived barriers to healthy eating, food insecurity, sports nutrition knowledge, and dietary patterns among Army ROTC cadets. The usual dietary intake was gathered from (N = 37) cadets using the General Nutrition Assessment Food Frequency Questionnaire. The perceived barriers to healthy eating were measured using a set of scales consisting of social barriers (6 items, α = 0.86), access barriers (2 items, α = 0.95), and personal barriers (2 items, α = 0.67), with higher-scale scores indicating greater perceived barriers. Spearman correlation coefficients were used to measure the association between the energy-adjusted dietary intakes and the scores on the barriers scales. Energy-adjusted intakes of calcium (ρ = −0.47, p ≤ 0.01), fiber (ρ = −0.35, p = 0.03), vitamin A (ρ = −0.46, p ≤ 0.01), vitamin C (ρ = −0.43, p ≤ 0.01), fruit (ρ = −0.34, p = 0.04), and vegetables (ρ = −0.50, p ≤ 0.01) were negatively correlated with the perceived personal barrier scores. The energy-adjusted intakes of fiber (ρ = −0.36, p = 0.03), vitamin C (ρ = −0.37, p = 0.03), and vitamin E (ρ = −0.45, p ≤.01) were negatively correlated with perceived social barriers, while energy-adjusted vitamin C intake was negatively correlated with perceived access barriers (ρ = −0.40, p = 0.01). Although additional research is needed to better understand the dietary patterns of ROTC cadets, among the participants in this study, greater perceived personal, social, and access barriers were associated with less nutrient-dense eating patterns. Interventions aimed at addressing such barriers may prove beneficial for the improvement of diet quality among ROTC cadets. Full article
Article
Possible Association of Energy Availability with Transferrin Saturation and Serum Iron during Summer Camp in Male Collegiate Rugby Players
Nutrients 2021, 13(9), 2963; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nu13092963 - 26 Aug 2021
Viewed by 621
Abstract
Low energy availability (LEA) may persist in rugby players. However, timely assessment of energy balance is important but is difficult. Therefore, a practical index that reflects energy availability (EA) is essential. A total of 19 male college rugby players participated in a 2-week [...] Read more.
Low energy availability (LEA) may persist in rugby players. However, timely assessment of energy balance is important but is difficult. Therefore, a practical index that reflects energy availability (EA) is essential. A total of 19 male college rugby players participated in a 2-week pre-season summer camp. Their blood sample was collected after overnight fast prior to (Pre), in the middle (Middle), and after (Post) the camp. Their physical activity in the first half of the camp was calculated using the additive factor method in the forwards (FW; numbers 1–8) and backs (BK; numbers 9–15). The participants were categorized as tight five (T5; numbers 1–5), back row (BR; numbers 6–8), and BK for analysis. All the participants lost weight during the camp (range: from −5.9% to −0.1%). Energy balance in the first half of the camp was negative. Transferrin saturation (TSAT) and serum iron levels significantly decreased to half, or even less, compared with the Pre levels at week 1 and remained low. The changes in TSAT and serum iron levels exhibited a significant positive correlation with the changes in body weight (R = 0.720; R = 0.627) and with energy intake (R = 0.410; R = 461) in T5. LEA occurs in rugby summer camp but is difficult to assess using weight change. Alternately, TSAT and serum iron levels after overnight fast may be better predictors of LEA. Full article
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Article
Assessment of Sport Nutrition Knowledge, Dietary Practices, and Sources of Nutrition Information in NCAA Division III Collegiate Athletes
Nutrients 2021, 13(9), 2962; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nu13092962 - 26 Aug 2021
Viewed by 773
Abstract
Nutrition knowledge is a critical component of meeting sport nutrition guidelines. The present study aimed to evaluate the sport nutrition knowledge of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III (DIII) athletes using a validated questionnaire, and to assess the dietary practices and sources [...] Read more.
Nutrition knowledge is a critical component of meeting sport nutrition guidelines. The present study aimed to evaluate the sport nutrition knowledge of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III (DIII) athletes using a validated questionnaire, and to assess the dietary practices and sources of nutrition information in this population. A total of 331 student-athletes (n = 149 males, n = 181 females, n = 1 no sex indicated) completed the questionnaire. The mean score for total sport nutrition knowledge was 6.49 ± 8.9 (range −49 to 49) with a mean percent (%) correct score of 36.9 ± 19.1%. Athletes who had a previous college-level nutrition course (n = 62) had significantly higher (p < 0.05) total sport nutrition, carbohydrate, and hydration knowledge compared to those who did not (n = 268). Individual sport athletes (n = 90) scored significantly higher (p < 0.05) on hydration and micronutrients knowledge than team sport athletes (n = 237), while females scored higher than males for hydration knowledge (p < 0.05). The majority of athletes reported sensible dietary habits, such as not frequently skipping meals and eating carbohydrate and protein foods peri-workout. Athletes also reported their primary sources of nutrition information, the top three sources being social media, coaches, and athletic trainers, despite most frequently rating registered dietitians/nutritionists as “extremely knowledgeable”. Despite low sport nutrition knowledge, NCAA DIII collegiate athletes practiced seemingly prudent dietary habits but lacked exposure to high-quality sources of nutrition information. Full article
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Article
Measuring Athletes’ Perception of the Sport Nutrition Information Environment: The Adaptation and Validation of the Diet Information Overload Scale among Elite Athletes
Nutrients 2021, 13(8), 2781; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nu13082781 - 13 Aug 2021
Viewed by 682
Abstract
The exponentially growing quantity of nutrition information creates a new situation and challenge for every stakeholder, from athletes, coaches and nutritionists to policymakers. To measure the perception of the information environment related to healthy eating, the diet information overload scale was developed. The [...] Read more.
The exponentially growing quantity of nutrition information creates a new situation and challenge for every stakeholder, from athletes, coaches and nutritionists to policymakers. To measure the perception of the information environment related to healthy eating, the diet information overload scale was developed. The scale consists of eight items, measuring the perceived importance of pieces of information overload on Likert-type scales. The objective of the study was to test the applicability and validity of the diet information overload scale among athletes. A cross-sectional validation study was conducted with elite athletes (n = 177). To validate each item of the scale, we applied Cronbach’s alpha test, and the inner consistency of the scale was analyzed with linear correlation coefficients of the different variables. To evaluate the relationship between question groups, we applied factor analysis. The different fit indices showed a good fit to the model; the Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA) value was 0.09 and the Tucker–Lewis index (TLI) value was 0.84. The indicators of reliability (α based upon the covariances = 0.81) produced suitable results; thus, the sport nutrition information overload scale showed high reliability and applicability. Based on the sport nutrition information overload scale, further analysis could be carried out on how to optimize the content of key pieces of sport nutrition-related information. Full article
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Article
The Effects of a Nutrition Education Intervention on Sports Nutrition Knowledge during a Competitive Season in Highly Trained Adolescent Swimmers
Nutrients 2021, 13(8), 2713; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nu13082713 - 06 Aug 2021
Viewed by 1155
Abstract
The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of a seven-week nutrition education intervention on the sports nutrition knowledge (SNK) of highly trained UK adolescent swimmers. Fifteen national and international adolescent swimmers (males = 5; females = 10, 15.5 ± 1.1 [...] Read more.
The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of a seven-week nutrition education intervention on the sports nutrition knowledge (SNK) of highly trained UK adolescent swimmers. Fifteen national and international adolescent swimmers (males = 5; females = 10, 15.5 ± 1.1 years, 170.2 ± 7.5 cm, 60.3 ± 5.7 kg) participated in the study during seven consecutive weeks of the competitive swimming season. The participants received 30 min of nutrition education once per week in a classroom-based setting after they had completed their regular swim training. An undergraduate sports nutrition student delivered all nutrition education sessions and SNK questionnaires were administered to the participants pre- and post-intervention. The mean total SNK score improved by 8.3% (SD = 8.4%, 95% CI = 4.1–12.6; p = 0.006; ES = 1.0) following the nutrition education sessions. On an individual basis, ten swimmers significantly improved their total SNK score, whereas four swimmers did not improve, and one swimmer performed significantly worse after the intervention. Moreover, the swimmers’ knowledge of hydration improved by 22.2% (SD = 20.6%, 95% CI = 11.8–32.6, p = 0.004, ES = 1.1) over the seven-week timeframe, which was the only nutrition topic to have a significantly increased knowledge score. The current study therefore suggests that a nutrition education intervention can positively influence the SNK of highly trained adolescent swimmers. Full article
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Article
Examining the Relationship between Exercise Dependence, Disordered Eating, and Low Energy Availability
Nutrients 2021, 13(8), 2601; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nu13082601 - 28 Jul 2021
Viewed by 983
Abstract
Both dietary and exercise behaviors need to be considered when examining underlying causes of low energy availability (LEA). The study assessed if exercise dependence is independently related to the risk of LEA with consideration of disordered eating and athlete calibre. Via survey response, [...] Read more.
Both dietary and exercise behaviors need to be considered when examining underlying causes of low energy availability (LEA). The study assessed if exercise dependence is independently related to the risk of LEA with consideration of disordered eating and athlete calibre. Via survey response, female (n = 642) and male (n = 257) athletes were categorized by risk of: disordered eating, exercise dependence, disordered eating and exercise dependence, or if not presenting with disordered eating or exercise dependence as controls. Compared to female controls, the likelihood of being at risk of LEA was 2.5 times for female athletes with disordered eating and >5.5 times with combined disordered eating and exercise dependence. Male athletes with disordered eating, with or without exercise dependence, were more likely to report signs and symptoms compared to male controls-including suppression of morning erections (OR = 3.4; p < 0.0001), increased gas and bloating (OR = 4.0–5.2; p < 0.002) and were more likely to report a previous bone stress fracture (OR = 2.4; p = 0.01) and ≥22 missed training days due to overload injuries (OR = 5.7; p = 0.02). For both males and females, in the absence of disordered eating, athletes with exercise dependence were not at an increased risk of LEA or associated health outcomes. Compared to recreational athletes, female and male international caliber and male national calibre athletes were less likely to be classified with disordered eating. Full article
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Article
Food Choice Decisions of Collegiate Division I Athletes: A Qualitative Exploratory Study
Nutrients 2021, 13(7), 2322; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nu13072322 - 06 Jul 2021
Viewed by 1025
Abstract
Limited research has examined athletes’ food and health beliefs and decisions and the congruence of these decisions with recommendations from nutrition professionals. This study aimed to improve understanding of athletes’ food-related beliefs and practices to enable nutrition professionals to more effectively enhance performance [...] Read more.
Limited research has examined athletes’ food and health beliefs and decisions and the congruence of these decisions with recommendations from nutrition professionals. This study aimed to improve understanding of athletes’ food-related beliefs and practices to enable nutrition professionals to more effectively enhance performance while protecting athletes’ health. Division I college athletes (n = 14, 64% female) from a variety of sports were recruited to participate in 20-min semi-structured phone interviews about food and nutrition-related behaviors and cognitions. Data were content analyzed to identify themes and trends. Prominent factors influencing athletes’ food choices were potential benefits to health and performance, availability of foods, and recommendations from sports dietitians. Foods commonly consumed by athletes, including fruits, vegetables, and lean protein, were generally healthy and aligned with sports nutrition recommendations. Athletes avoided energy-dense nutrient-poor foods, such as fast food and fried foods, with the goal of improving performance. Some athletes took supplements (i.e., multivitamin, iron, protein) on the premise that they would improve health and enhance performance or recovery. While athletes’ nutrition behaviors are generally congruent with current recommendations, findings highlighted misconceptions held by athletes related to the benefits of some supplements and the belief that packaged/processed foods were inherently less healthy than other options. Nutrition misconceptions held by athletes and incongruities between athletes’ nutrition knowledge and behaviors suggest that dietitians should aim to dispel misconceptions held by athletes and provide additional guidance and information to support athletes’ current healthful behaviors to ensure these behaviors extend beyond their college athletic career. Full article
Article
The Influence of Sport Nutrition Knowledge on Body Composition and Perceptions of Dietary Requirements in Collegiate Athletes
Nutrients 2021, 13(7), 2239; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nu13072239 - 29 Jun 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 973
Abstract
Sport nutrition knowledge has been shown to influence dietary habits of athletes. The purpose of the current study was to examine relationships between sport nutrition knowledge and body composition and examine potential predictors of body weight goals in collegiate athletes. Participants included National [...] Read more.
Sport nutrition knowledge has been shown to influence dietary habits of athletes. The purpose of the current study was to examine relationships between sport nutrition knowledge and body composition and examine potential predictors of body weight goals in collegiate athletes. Participants included National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III women (n = 42, height: 169.9 ± 6.9 cm; body mass: 67.1 ± 8.6 kg; fat-free mass: 51.3 ± 6.6 kg; body fat percent: 24.2 ± 5.3%) and men (n = 25, height: 180.8 ± 7.2 cm; body mass: 89.2 ± 20.5 kg; fat-free mass: 75.9 ± 12.2 kg; body fat percent: 13.5 ± 8.9%) athletes. Body composition was assessed via air displacement plethysmography. Athletes completed a validated questionnaire designed to assess sport nutrition knowledge and were asked questions about their perceived dietary energy and macronutrient requirements, as well as their body weight goal (i.e., lose, maintain, gain weight). Athletes answered 47.98 ± 11.29% of questions correctly on the nutrition questionnaire with no differences observed between sexes (men: 49.52 ± 11.76% vs. women: 47.03 ± 11.04%; p = 0.40). An inverse relationship between sport nutrition knowledge scores and body fat percentage (BF%) (r = −0.330; p = 0.008), and fat mass (r = −0.268; p = 0.032) was observed for all athletes. Fat mass (β = 0.224), BF% (β = 0.217), and body mass index (BMI) (β = 0.421) were all significant (p < 0.05) predictors of body weight goal in women. All athletes significantly (p < 0.001) underestimated daily energy (−1360 ± 610.2 kcal/day), carbohydrate (−301.6 ± 149.2 grams/day [g/day]), and fat (−41.4 ± 34.5 g/day) requirements. Division III collegiate athletes have a low level of sport nutrition knowledge, which was associated with a higher BF%. Women athletes with a higher body weight, BF% and BMI were more likely to select weight loss as a body weight goal. Athletes also significantly underestimated their energy and carbohydrate requirements based upon the demands of their sport, independent of sex. Full article
Article
Athletes’ and Coaches’ Perceptions of Nutritional Advice: Eating More Food for Health and Performance
Nutrients 2021, 13(6), 1925; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nu13061925 - 03 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1732
Abstract
Background: Low energy availability results in physiological adaptations which contribute to unfavourable health outcomes. Little information exists on perceptions of nutritional advice to eat more food to maintain health and enhance performance. The aim of this study was to explore athletes’ and coaches’ [...] Read more.
Background: Low energy availability results in physiological adaptations which contribute to unfavourable health outcomes. Little information exists on perceptions of nutritional advice to eat more food to maintain health and enhance performance. The aim of this study was to explore athletes’ and coaches’ perceptions towards advice to athletes to eat larger than their current quantities of food and to explore how nutritionists could deliver this advice. Methods: Semi-structured interviews (~20 min in length) were conducted using online communication technology, audio-recorded, and transcribed verbatim. The interview explored perceptions of the nutritional advice provided, its role in health and performance, and the challenges to eating larger amounts of food. Data were analysed using NVIVO 1.2 using an inductive thematic approach. Results: Nine elite athletes (female = 6; males = 3) and nine high-performance coaches (female = 3; male = 6) completed the semi-structured interviews. Athletes reported improved training consistency, fewer injuries and illnesses, and improved resilience when consuming adequate energy and nutrients to meet their needs. Lack of time and meal preparation difficulties were the main challenges faced to fuelling. Conclusions: Although education about under-fuelling is important, motivating, enabling, and supporting athletes to change behaviour is pivotal to increasing athlete self-awareness and to make long-term nutritional changes. Full article
Article
Exploring Sports Nutrition Knowledge in Elite Gaelic Footballers
Nutrients 2021, 13(4), 1081; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nu13041081 - 26 Mar 2021
Viewed by 1448
Abstract
Nutrition intake plays a crucial role in improving athletic performance, enhancing adaptations to training, and augmenting recovery from exercise. However, research has reported that Gaelic footballers consistently fail to meet energy and carbohydrate recommendations. Sports nutrition knowledge (SNK) can influence the dietary intake [...] Read more.
Nutrition intake plays a crucial role in improving athletic performance, enhancing adaptations to training, and augmenting recovery from exercise. However, research has reported that Gaelic footballers consistently fail to meet energy and carbohydrate recommendations. Sports nutrition knowledge (SNK) can influence the dietary intake of athletes, and therefore has the potential to have a significant impact on athletic performance. The aim of this study was to investigate the current level of SNK in elite Gaelic footballers (n = 100). An online version of the Nutrition for Sport Knowledge Questionnaire (NSKQ) was used to assess sports SNK. The overall mean SNK scores for Gaelic footballers and practitioners were 47.6 ± 12.3% and 78.1 ± 8.3%, respectively. There were no differences in knowledge between age groups, education level or divisional status. The top three sources of nutrition information identified by participants were team dietitian/nutritionists (84.0%), athletic trainers/strength and conditioning coaches (73%), and social media (37%). The results show that there is a major gap in the SNK of Gaelic footballers, while practitioners demonstrated a promising SNK, that could support Gaelic footballers. There is a need for development of interventions and knowledge transfer partnerships, including more effective methods of educating Gaelic footballers and translating sports nutrition principles to players. Developing appropriate nutritional education strategies using online resources and mobile applications could help to improve nutritional knowledge and practice of Gaelic footballers. Full article

Review

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Review
Nutrition Knowledge of Collegiate Athletes in the United States and the Impact of Sports Dietitians on Related Outcomes: A Narrative Review
Nutrients 2021, 13(6), 1772; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/nu13061772 - 22 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1713
Abstract
In the last decade, the number of full-time registered dietitians (RDs) serving intercollegiate athletes in the United States has more than quadrupled. However, many student athletes may be at increased risk of nutrition-related problems that impact physical and academic performance, which include inadequate [...] Read more.
In the last decade, the number of full-time registered dietitians (RDs) serving intercollegiate athletes in the United States has more than quadrupled. However, many student athletes may be at increased risk of nutrition-related problems that impact physical and academic performance, which include inadequate macronutrients, inadequate micronutrients, and excessive macronutrients. This narrative review reports the current literature to date on nutrition-related knowledge in collegiate athletes and the impact of sports RDs on student athletes’ nutrition knowledge and behaviors. To date, only observational and quasi-experimental studies have been published with regard to changes in nutrition knowledge and behaviors in NCAA athletes. While these studies report benefits of the RD as a member of the interdisciplinary student athlete support team, more well-designed randomized control trials are warranted to determine benefits related to health outcomes and sport-specific performance outcomes. Full article
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