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Diet and hydration of sportspeople improve during competition, finds out a Basque university researcher

The main goal of this research was to determine the composition of the ingestion of a group of volunteer skiers, participants in the XXX Andrés de Regil BBK Trophy Mountain Trek and correlate them with their anthropometric blood parameters, and with the time obtained in the trials.

The author of the thesis is Ms Elena Díaz Ereño and her work is entitled, The nutritional analysis of the ingestion of competition sportspersons in the period prior and posterior to the competition. The competition test involved undertaking two timed routes. They did a total of 19 km, with several differences in level and rising to 2,200 metres. The skiers studied filled in various questionnaires on health and physical activity and recorded their ingestion over the 4 days of the competition (before, during and after). The blood pressure and heartbeat for each sportsperson were taken, apart from blood and urine analyses before and after the competition. The data obtained were processed statistically. 21 male skiers with an average age of 37 were studied and the results showed normal body weight as well as fat and muscle percentage and a predominantly athletic body build. Likewise, the analysis prior to the competition was considered to be within normal parameters. After the trial, Ms Díaz observed significant blood changes in the erythrocyte and leukocyte counts, in the muscle enzymes and in certain proteins. All these changes correspond to stress response, to inflammation and to muscular damage due to the intense physical force undertaken. Also, the nutritional composition of the ingestion of the skiers, compared to the recommended one, showed imbalances in energy, carbohydrates, lipids and certain micronutrients that improve on the day of the competition. As regards stress response, inflammation and muscular damage, it was seen that these were less in those subjects that undertook higher energy ingestion of macronutrients. Finally, the best competition times were related to a greater proportion of carbohydrates and less of lipids in the diet. From the data, Ms Díaz believes that the appropriate energy contribution, provided by sufficient amounts of macronutrients and micronutrients, is related to less inflammation and muscular damage and to higher performance in competition sports. According to Ms Díaz, in the group studied, it would appear appropriate to harmonise energy needs with those of the macronutrients. Thus, increasing the consumption of cereals, dairy products, fruit, vegetables and lean meat around competition periods is recommendable. Ms Elena Díaz Ereño (Bilbao, 1959) is a doctor in Medicine and General Surgery and has completed a Master’s in Nutrition and another Sports Medicine. The supervisors of the thesis were Susana Maria Gil Orozko and Javier Gil Goikouria, from the Department of Physiology at the University of the Basque Country’s Faculty of Medicine and Odontology. Currently, Ms Díaz works as a lecturer at the same university.