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Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2018 Mar;28(3):881-892. doi: 10.1111/sms.13006. Epub 2017 Nov 22.

Nutrition strategies before and during ultra-endurance event: A significant gap between science and practice.

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Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Technological Institute of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece.
Athletics Laboratory, School of Physical Education and Sport Science, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece.
Department of Biology, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece.
Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Faculty of Health Sciences and Education, Harokopio University, Athens, Greece.
Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece.


The purpose of this study was to investigate and assess the nutritional practices of open-water swimmers, during the preparation period and the competition, as well as their implications on performance and anthropometric parameters according to their age. Twenty-four (n = 24) men open-water swimmers, twelve young (26.3 ± 4.9 years) and twelve older athletes (45.8 ± 9.7 years), participated in this study. Nutritional behavior-energy intake consumption, and anthropometric characteristics were evaluated prior to the Toroneos Gulf crossing (26 km). In addition, nutritional intakes during the race and anthropometrics after the race were also evaluated. Significant differences between the two groups were found for Toroneos Gulf crossing performance, BMI, and all variables of body composition at the preparation period (P < .05). The results involving energy consumption, in both preparation period and during the race, displayed significant differences between the two groups, while both groups exhibited significantly negative energy balances. During the race, significant differences were found also for the energy expenditure, relative energy intake, negative energy balance, relative consumption of carbohydrates per hour, and relative protein intake (P < .05). In both groups, lower intakes than the recommended were observed for macronutrient-micronutrient elements at any time point. Significant correlations were found between selected variables of body composition, nutritional intakes during the preparation period and the competition, and athletes' performance. In summary, this study provides strong evidence about the malnutrition of ultra-endurance swimmers prior and during their competition, with potential dangers for their health and performance as certain deficiencies in both macro- and micronutrient contents are present.


malnutrition; nutritional preparation; ultra-endurance athletes

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