Female athletes often have inadequate diets due to lack of nutritional knowledge and nutritional misconceptions. Poor nutrition may lead to an increased chance of developing the Female Athlete Triad, a trio of low energy availability, menstrual dysfunction, and low bone mass. Physical therapists, as part of a healthcare team, must be prepared to address nutritional issues, recognize signs and symptoms of the female athlete triad, and make the appropriate intervention or referral.
The purpose of this study was to determine the nutritional knowledge of female collegiate swimmers and how effectively they apply their nutritional knowledge to their everyday eating habits.
Eighty-five female collegiate swimmers from six Michigan universities completed a nutritional knowledge questionnaire and a 24-hour food recall survey. Demographic, nutritional, and statistical data were analyzed.
The mean score on nutritional knowledge test was 54.53/76 (71.75% correct). Mean total caloric intake of swimmers was 3229.10 calories per day. Ninety-five point nine percent did not meet the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for all three macronutrients. No difference in total mean survey score existed between the three collegiate divisions.
This study suggests that athletes lack knowledge of nutrition, healthy food choices, components of a well-balanced diet, and the implications of nutrition on performance.