Dietary analysis and comparison of inter-county and club Gaelic football teams
Reeves, S. & Collins, K (2002) 'PART III: KINANTHROPOMETRY', Journal of Sports Sciences, 20:1, 31 - 45 dx.doi.org/10.1080/026404102317126155
Gaelic football is a physiologically demanding game with irregular changes of pace and anaerobic e ̨orts superimposed on light to moderate aerobic activity (Reilly and Doran, 2001: Journal of Sports Sciences, 19, 181±193). Hence, for optimal performance, adequate nutritional intake is essential. Increasingly, teams are turning to the ®eld of sports science, not only for physiological and psychological support but also nutritional counselling. However, little information is available regarding the nutritional requirements of Gaelic football. The aims of this study were to determine the dietary intakes of inter-county and club Gaelic football players and to compare these with that of non-sporting controls. Twelve inter-county players, 12 club players and 12 con- trols, all males of median age 25 years (range 21±30 years), were recruited.The participants were given verbal and written instructions on how to complete a 7 day food and drink diary. These diaries were then analysed using Diet 5 (Univation, Aberdeen). Anthropometric measurements were made to allow appropriate nutrient intakes to be calculated. The participants’ height was 1.81 ± 0.04 m, their body mass 84 ± 3 kg and their estimated body fat 18.3 ± 2.1% (mean ± s). In addition, the participants were interviewed about their training schedules, occupation and general lifestyle. From the dietary analysis (Table 1) it was apparent that all three groups had similar energy intakes that were in line with theDepartmentofHealth’sguidelines(DepartmentofHealth, 1996: Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the UK. London: HMSO). However, the energy intakes were below those recommended for athletes (Economos et al., 1993: Sports Medicine, 16, 381±399). The inter-county team players consumed signi®cantly more of their energy from carbohydrate (P < 0.01), but again this could be increased further, in line with the recommendations for athletes. Protein and fat intakes were similar in all groups and were appropriate for athletes and the general population. Iron and vitamin C intakes were above recommended values but calcium was low in the inter-county and control groups. The main finding was that the daily intakes of the inter-county team were less than the recommended values for athletes. Following this nutritional analysis, Gaelic football players and coaches should emphasize to their teams the need for adequate amounts of energy from appropriate carbohydrate-rich sources. More specific dietary corrections should be made on an individual basis.