Energy and macronutrient intakes of elite figure skaters.J Am Diet Assoc 2001; 101(3):319-25JA
Dietary guidelines for athletes emphasize complex carbohydrates. This study examined dietary intakes of elite figure skaters relative to current recommendations in sports nutrition.
Subjects were male (n=80) and female (n=81) figure skaters taking part in a series of training camps held in Colorado between 1988 and 1995. Mean age was 18 years for men and 16 years for women.
Measures of height, weight, and skinfold thickness were used to calculate body mass index and percent body fat. Blood samples were drawn for analysis of nutritional status. Energy and nutrient intakes were based on 3-day food records.
Multivariate regression model and correlation analyses used the SPSS for Windows program.
Values of body mass index and percent body fat were similar to those obtained for elite athletes in other studies. Plasma chemistries were in the normal range. Energy intakes (2,329 kcal/day for men and 1,545 kcal/day for women) were below recommended values for sex and age. The skaters derived approximately 50% of their daily energy from sugars and fat. Sugars alone accounted for 25% of daily energy intakes--the skaters consumed between 100 g (women) and 142 g of sugars per day. Sugar and fat intakes, when expressed as percent of daily energy, were inversely linked, providing evidence of a fat-sugar seesaw. Higher-energy diets were higher in fat but lower in carbohydrate and protein.
High consumption of sugars and fat by elite athletes was not associated with overweight or excess body fat. Although recommended diets are usually built around complex carbohydrates, dietetics professionals can address the increased energy needs of elite athletes by recommending energy-dense foods. Sugars and fats are efficient sources of energy per unit volume.