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J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2016 Apr 2;13:15. doi: 10.1186/s12970-016-0127-x. eCollection 2016.

Critical evaluation of food intake and energy balance in young modern pentathlon athletes: a cross-sectional study.

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Federal University of Rio de Janeiro/Josué de Castro Nutrition Institute, Av. Carlos Chagas Filho, 373 - Centro de Ciências da Saúde, Bloco J, 2° andar, Cidade Universitária, Ilha do Fundão, RJ 21941-902 Brazil.



Modern pentathlon comprises five sports: fencing, swimming, equestrian jumping, and a combined event of pistol shooting and running. Despite the expected high energy demand of this sport, there are few studies that provide support for the nutritional recommendations for pentathletes. The purpose of the present study was to evaluate young modern pentathlon athletes with respect to body composition, biochemical profile, and consumption of food and supplements.


Fifty-six young modern pentathletes aged 13.5 ± 2.4 years participated in the study: 22 adolescent girls and 34 adolescent boys, weight 55.8 ± 13.3 kg, height 1.6 ± 0.1 m, and body fat 21.1 ± 3.1 %. Food consumption was analyzed through a 24-h recall method and food-frequency questionnaire. Assessment of body composition was carried out by checking anthropometric measures (body mass, height, and skinfolds) and using protocols according to participants' age and sexual maturity.


Male participants consumed less energy than the general recommendations for athletes from the American Dietetic Association (2749 ± 1024 kcal vs. 3113 ± 704 kcal, p < 0.01), whereas female participants consumed more energy than those recommendations (2558 ± 808 kcal vs. 2213 ± 4734 kcal, p < 0.01). Neither young men nor young women followed the carbohydrate intake recommendations for athletes (6.3 ± 2.5 g/kg/day and 6.6 ± 2.2 g/kg/day, respectively). Lipid and protein intakes corresponded to recommendations for both sexes; however, insufficient intakes of calcium, fruits, and vegetables were seen, as well as frequent consumption of baked goods and sugared soft drinks.


Adolescent modern pentathlon athletes presented inadequate eating habits with respect to consumption of carbohydrates and energy. Many participants had insufficient intake of micronutrients, especially calcium. However, future research is needed that is aimed at elucidating the real nutritional demands for good physical performance in this sport and the impact of inadequate eating habits on performance, especially among young athletes who are in the growth-stage years and are exposed to intense physical exercise routines.


Adolescents; Body composition; Eating habits; Physical exercise; Sports nutrition

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