There is limited information regarding the dietary habits and energy availability (EA) of collegiate athletes. Therefore, the purpose of the present study is to assess the nutrient intakes, dietary habits, and prevalence of low EA (<30 kcals/kg FFM) in a group of National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III male and female swimmers. Energy and nutrient intake, body composition, and exercise energy expenditure was assessed in 30 (n = 15 males, n = 15 females) NCAA Division III swimmers during pre-season using three-day diet and seven-day activity records alongside multi-frequency, bioelectric impedance analysis. A validated screening tool was used to assess for low EA in the female swimmers. Mean EA in male and female athletes was 32.7 ± 12 and 34.9 ± 13.7 kcals/kg FFM, respectively, and was not significantly different between the sexes (p = 0.65). Twenty percent of swimmers (n = 3 males, n = 3 females) presented with optimal EA, 37% (n = 5 males, n = 6 females) presented with sub-optimal EA, and 43% (n = 7 males, n = 6 females) presented with low EA. Swimmers who presented with a low EA consumed significantly less calories, carbohydrates, and proteins than non-low EA swimmers (p < 0.02). The validated screening tool failed to classify 50% of female swimmers who presented with low EA. Only eight athletes achieved the USDA MyPlate recommendation for fruits, whereas three athletes achieved the recommendation for vegetables, with no differences between the sexes (p > 0.05). The present findings show that there was a high prevalence of low EA during the pre-season among male and female collegiate swimmers that was not fully captured using a validated screening tool for females. Low EA occurred alongside lower intakes of calories, carbohydrates, and proteins, and the majority of swimmers did not meet the United States Department of Agriculture recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake. These data stress the need for improved dietary intakes in NCAA Division III collegiate swimmers.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Nutrition and Dietetics