Carbohydrate Selection and Consumption Among Division 1 Athletes: How Does This Compare to Recommendations?

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Idaho Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics


Pocatello, ID

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Carbohydrates are the main fuel source for exercising muscle. Adequate carbohydrate intake is crucial to meet the demands of training and support athletic performance. The Washington State University Athletics FUEL program recommends athletes adjust their carbohydrate intake, using a plate method, to meet training needs (e.g. light workout/off day = ¼ plate carbohydrates, moderate workout day = ⅓ plate carbohydrates, and heavy workout days = ½ plate carbohydrates). The purpose of this study was to assess Division 1 Collegiate Athletes’ carbohydrate selection at a university provided mid-day meal and consumption compared to plate method recommendations. Athletes completed a six-item demographic questionnaire. Researchers photographed athletes’ plates before and after eating. Plate percentages of carbohydrate selection and consumption was estimated for each photograph. Athletes (n=125) selected and consumed the following percent of carbohydrates: light/off training day (43 ± 16%, 34 ± 14% [n=32]), moderate training day (33 ± 20%, 29 ± 17% [n=48]), heavy training (34 ± 17%, 30 ± 15% [n=47]). Overall, athletes selected (43% [n=54]) and consumed (55% [n=69]) less than the recommended amount of carbohydrates. These results indicate a need for targeted nutrition education regarding the importance of carbohydrates for training demands and athletic performance.

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