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Eur J Sport Sci. 2013;13(3):295-303. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2011.643923. Epub 2012 Mar 1.

Effect of nutritional intervention on body composition and performance in elite athletes.

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Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway.


Strength training and positive energy intake are the most important factors related to lean body mass (LBM) gain. Most studies investigating weight-gain interventions are based recreationally active subjects and less is known about optimal weight-gain protocols in elite athletes. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of nutritional guidance in an 8- to 12-week weight-gain period in elite athletes. Thirty-nine elite athletes were randomised to either a 'nutritional counseling group' (NCG, n=21, 19.1±2.9 years, 70.9±8.9 kg) or 'ad libitum group' (ALG, n=18, 19.6±2.7 years, 75.0±5.9 kg). All athletes continued their sport-specific training which included an additional four strength-training sessions per week. NCG followed a meal plan providing a positive energy balance, while the ALG athletes had an ad libitum energy intake. Body weight (BW), body composition, one repetition maximum (1RM), 40 m sprint and counter movement jump (CMJ) were measured pre- and post-intervention. Energy intake was higher in the NCG than in the ALG (3585±601 vs. 2964±884 kcal) and consequently BW increased more in NCG than in ALG (3.9±0.6% vs. 1.5±0.4%). Fat mass (FM) increased more in NCG than in ALG (15±4 vs. 3±3%), but gain in LBM was not different between groups. All 1RM results improved in both groups (6-12%), whereas 40 m sprint and CMJ remained unchanged, except for a significant decrease in 40 m sprint for the athletes in NCG. Athletes with nutritional guidance increased BW more, however, excess energy intake in a weight-gain protocol should be considered carefully due to undesirable increases in body fat.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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