Chinese Journal of Medical History / Zhong Hua Yi Shi Za Zhi

[This article belongs to Volume - 53, Issue - 03]

Abstract : Diet plays an important role in achieving physical benefits in many sports. Athletes tend to adjust their eating habits to reach their target weight in order to increase their performance. Disordered eating habits often have harmful consequences on health and performance. The objective of this study is to evaluate the Moroccan athletes’ eating habits with regards of their body weight. The subjects were 37 males’ athletes (20 athletes wish to maintain their weight and 17 athletes wish to lose weight). The Measures included sociodemographic (age, education level, and marital status) and anthropometric characteristics (weight, height and BMI), type of sport, frequency of meals consumption, nutritional habits and the strategy adopted to adjust the body weight. The mean age was 34.8 years (SD 6.4). The majority of the athletes were married (62.2%) and with a university level (64.9%). The mean BMI was 24.3 (SD 2.8) with 35.1% of the participants were overweight. 45.9% of the participants were extreme endurance athletes, 40.5% were endurance athletes, and only 13.5% were strength athletes. The mean weekly training sessions was 5.7 sessions (SD 2.4) and the mean weekly training hours was 11.9 hours (SD 2.9). The two athlete groups (Weight Maintenance vs Weight Loss) have similar age, marital status, education level, height, type of sport, and weekly training sessions and number of hours. A significant difference was reported between the two groups in terms of weight and BMI (p < 0.001). Considering the nutritional habits, while the majority of athletes are frequent consumers (6 to 7 days/week) of breakfast (89.2%) and lunch (86.5%), only 43.2% of them are frequent consumers of diner. The daily frequency of snack consumption was rare in 51.4% of participants in the morning, in 43.2% of participants in the afternoon and in 21.6% of them in the evening. No significant differences were found in meal and snacks habits between the two groups. All the athletes reported consuming meat and fruit. The majority of the athletes are a usually consumers of vegetables (97.3%), and milk and dairy products (94.6%). 78.4% of athletes eat French fries and 32.4% of them eat burgers. A usually consumption of nutritional supplements, cold meats and sweets was reported by 54.1%, 45.9% and 35.1% of the athletes respectively. Similar consumption of meat, fruit, vegetables, milk and dairy products, fries and nutritional supplements was reported in the two groups. However, a significant consumption of cold meats (p = 0.020) was found in Weight Loss group. To lose or maintain weight, most of the participants prefer to increase the number of sports sessions. 75.7% the of athletes said they never work with or have recourse to a specialist in sports nutrition, with no significant difference between the two groups. Similar eating habits and weight management practices among our athletes, whether for weight maintenance or weight loss, highlight the role of sports nutrition specialists in providing nutritional strategies to maintain ideal body weight, in a way that does not negatively affect the performance required in sports settings.