(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) A study, 'Nutritional Practices of Athletes in Oman' has revealed that sportsmen in the country have poor dietary practices and most have no supervision by a nutritionist/dietician. The study, which included 35 male handball athletes involved in serious training for no less than three years, showed that 54 per cent of them had poor dietary practices (less than three meals a day).
Published in the September issue of Oman Medical Journal, it said that 51 per cent indicated that lunch was their principal meal, 51 per cent always added extra salt to their meals, 28 per cent took protein supplements daily, and 51 per cent had pre-competition glycogen load diets. However, none consumed vitamins or mineral supplements.
Data was collected over a few months in 2012 by Hashem A Kilani, professor at Physical Education Department, Sultan Qaboos University and two other SQU researchers Mostafa Waly and Majid al Busafi.
Nutritional knowledge analysis of the athletes revealed that 80 per cent had no supervision of a nutritionist/dietician. Their knowledge of nutritional requirements was only 23 per cent correct for total energy intake, 63 per cent correct for protein intake, 46 per cent for carbohydrate intake, 11 per cent for fat and 83 per cent for water intake.
The study suggested that professional supervision is needed to improve nutritional knowledge and eating habits of Omani athletes, and improve their performance and that adequate dietary intake was crucial for optimum training and performance.
The results also revealed that the subjects exhibited poor eating habits and dietary practices - their meals were rich in carbohydrates, red meat, saturated fats, and they had less intake of fresh fruits and vegetables. The average daily percentage of energy contribution from carbohydrates, fats and proteins was however within recommended limits.
The study indicated that the nutritional knowledge of the enrolled Omani athletes mainly came from their coaches, as there was no direct professional nutritional or dietary supervision available. It was observed that 54 per cent of the participants acquired information from their coaches, 26 per cent from sports magazines, 11 per cent from peers and nine per cent from television.
'Most of the athletes tend to acquire nutritional information from magazines, health food store personnel, coaches, gym owners, and from other athletes. Some athletes also sought nutrition information and guidance from their parents, friends, physicians, dieticians and nutritionists.
'Coaches however, often play an important role in influencing the dietary habits of athletes, but have been reported to recommend inappropriate macronutrient and protein intake, fluid restriction and weight gain for athletes. Most coaches have limited knowledge and training in nutrition, yet often provide nutritional advice. It is therefore important that people who provide nutritional guidance to athletes have the appropriate knowledge base and dispense accurate information,' the study stated.
The researchers suggested that both the athletes and their coaches are required to have sufficient nutritional knowledge to enhance their performance and optimal health.
'A development of effective nutrition-education programmes is required to increase the nutritional knowledge of athletes as well as their trainers, since nutritional education may significantly influence towards changing their dietary behaviours,' suggested the report.