Nutrition influences performance in a variety of ways. For example, adequate intake of carbohydrates, proteins and fats facilitates the recovery process to build and repair damaged muscle, resynthesize glycogen and support endocrine function and nutrient absorption. In addition, nutritional intake can be manipulated to increase lean body mass and reduce fat mass which can directly impact relative strength, power and performance. The tricky part is getting athletes to comply with nutritional interventions and recommendations from the sports dietitian. As such, rather than simply providing athletes with diet templates or strict guidelines, it may be more useful to invest more time educating the athlete about nutrition and how it impacts performance and their body composition. This may encourage them to make better decisions that suit there personal needs and goals.
A new study published ahead of print in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine investigated the effects of a sport nutrition education intervention on player knowledge, body composition and performance in a group of NCAA Division 1 baseball players. Thirty players from the same baseball program were split into an intervention group (n=15) and a control groups (n=15). The intervention involved a 90-min information session where they were taught about calorie intake, macronutrients, food sources and hydration. Nutrition knowledge and 3-day diet logs were assessed before and after a 12-week off-season training program. Additionally, body composition, agility (5-10-5), vertical jump, broad jump and 1RM back squat were also tested before and after off-season training.
The results showed that nutrition knowledge significantly improved in the intervention group from pre to post. Protein and fat intake significantly increased from pre to post in the intervention group while carbohydrate intake did not significantly change. Both groups similarly and significantly improved their fat-free mass at post-testing. However, only the intervention groups saw a significant reduction in fat mass (-1 kg). The intervention group experienced significantly greater improvement in their agility time compared to control (-0.15 ms vs. -0.06 ms). Jump performance and 1RM back squat significantly improved for both groups with no significant between group differences. These findings indicate that educating players on nutrition affects their eating habits which may support favorable training responses.
Fabrício Eduardo Rossi, Andrew Landreth, Stacey Beam, Taylor Jones, Layne Norton, Jason Michael Cholewa, (2017) The Effects of a Sports Nutrition Education Intervention on Nutritional Status, Sport Nutrition Knowledge, Body Composition, and Performance during Off Season Training in NCAA Division I Baseball Players. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (16), 60 – 68.