Adequate dietary intake is crucial for optimum training and performance of athletes. There is almost no available information related to dietary practices among Omani athletes, especially during the competition. This study aimed to assess the nutritional practices (nutritional knowledge, eating habits and daily nutrients intake) among Omani male handball athletes in Muscat city, Oman.
This is a cross sectional study including 35 male handball athletes involved in serious training for no less than three years. Data collection was done through personal interviews using a study questionnaire which enlisted questions relating to socio-demographic information, anthropometric measurements and nutritional practices. All the study participants declared no intake of anabolic steroids.
The mean age of the study participants was 27 ± 3 years. Their anthropometric assessment revealed that their mean height was 166 ± 12 cm, mean weight was 75 ± 10 kg, and body mass index was 27 ± 3. Nutritional knowledge analysis revealed that 80% had no nutritional supervision by a nutritionist/dietitian. Their knowledge of nutritional requirements was only 23% correct for total energy intake, 63% for protein intake, 46% for carbohydrate intake, 11% for fat intake and 83% for water intake. Eating habits indicated that 55% had <3 meals/day, 51% had lunch as the principal meal, 51% always added extra salt to their food, 28% took protein supplements on a daily basis, and 51% used pre-competition glycogen load diet. However, none consumed vitamins or mineral supplements. The mean daily caloric intake was 3674 ± 265 kcal/day, which was roughly comprised of 596 ± 66 g carbohydrates, 147 ± 28 g of protein and 78 ± 20 g of total fat.
Professional nutritional supervision is needed in order to improve the nutritional knowledge and eating habits of Omani athletes, and therefore improve their athletic performance.