Comparison of diet consumption, body composition and lipoprotein lipid values of Kuwaiti fencing players with international norms

Journal Title (Medline/Pubmed accepted abbreviation): J. Intl. Soc. Sports Nutr.
Year: 2011
Volume: 8
First Page: 13

Summary of background and research design:

Background: Fencing is a combat sport that requires both aerobic and anaerobic activity. Many Kuwaiti fencers are not educated on healthy nutritional practices to maximize health and performance in their sport.  

Research goals: To collect data on nutritional practices and physiological profiles (body mass, fat percentage, blood lipid profile) and compare them to international measures.

Subjects: Fifteen male, national-class fencers age 21.5 ± 2.6 y.

Experimental design:field study (no intervention) 

Protocol:Body composition was assessed via BODPOD and calculation of BMI. In order to assess diet habits, athletes completed 3-day dietary records (two training days and one rest day). Lastly, blood samples were collected after an overnight fast for assessment of total serum cholesterol, triglycerides, high-, low-, and very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and hemoglobin. VO2max was determined on a treadmill.

Summary of research findings:
  • BMI and percent body fat were within the range of international norms for fencers.
  • The average plasma glucose, the plasma lipid profile, and hemoglobin were within healthy ranges.
  • The calculated caloric consumption for the athletes was approximately 2655 calories per day but actual consumption was 3459 ± 917 calories per day. It is unknown if the athletes were intentionally in positive energy balance (intentionally gaining weight).
  • Athletes exceeded the dietary recommendations for carbohydrates, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, protein, and sodium. Caffeine intake (69.9 ± 55.6 mg/d) compared to the population norm of 25 mg/day). However, their percent calories from carbohydrates was lower than the recommendation.
  • Athletes did not meet recommendations for dietary fiber.
  • Athletes met recommendations for iron, calcium, vitamin C, and potassium.
  • Breakfast was only consumed 7.4% of the time.

Key practice applications:

Despite the fencers’ healthy body composition, their diet was very poor (high in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium; low in dietary fiber). This diet may lead to heart disease and other health problems later in life. Nutrition should be a key component of any athlete’s lifestyle and it is important for coaches to assure that athletes understand nutritional recommendations and aid them in implementing them. Poor nutritional practices may lead to suboptimal performance, and often times it is unknown how improving the diet of an athlete could further improve athletic performance that is already well developed.


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