Enter your details:
Thank you for subscribing.
Subscribe to our newsletter!

Svetlana Nepocatych1, Gytis Balilionis1, Eric K. O'Neal2

1Elon University, Department of Exercise Science, Elon, USA
2The University of North Alabama, Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, Florence, USA

Analysis of Dietary Intake and Body Composition of Female Athletes over a Competitive Season


The purpose of the study was to examine dietary intake, body composition and bone mineral density changes at the beginning and end of a competitive season in female athletes of sports that have been less represented in the literature. NCAA Division I basketball (n=10) and softball (n=10) players mean age (20±1 years) completed 3-day food records at the beginning and end of season. Body composition and bone mineral density were measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Mean energy intake was significantly lower at the beginning compared to the end of the season (1925±466 vs. 2326±782 kcals/day; p=0.02). Lean, fat, and total body mass, and total and regional BMD were unaltered from the beginning to the end of season (p>0.05). Macronutrient consumption by percentage did not change across the season (p>0.05) with aggregate data equalling 3.5±1.3, 1.2±0.6, and 1.2±0.5 g/kg/day for carbohydrate, fat, and protein respectively. Carbohydrate and protein intakes were below the recommended levels. Low intake of fibre (17±6.3 g/day) and high sodium (3700±1120 mg/day) also raise concerns. Despite no major alterations in body composition or BMD many female athletes’ diets in the sports investigated while living on campus failed to meet recommended intake levels suggesting maximal athletic performance and health parameters may be stunted due to poor nutrient choices.


Nutrients, Vitamins, Minerals, Performance, Dietary Behaviour, Bone Mineral Density


Anderson, D. E. (2010). The Impact of Feedback on Dietary Intake and Body Composition of College Women Volleyball Players Over a Competitive Season. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(8), 2220–2226. https://doi.org/10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181def6b9

Black, A. E., Goldberg, G. R., Jebb, S. A., Livingstone, M. B., Cole, T. J., & Prentice, A. M. (1991). Critical evaluation of energy intake data using fundamental principles of energy physiology: 2. Evaluating the results of published surveys. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 45(12), 583–99.

Burke, L. M., Cox, G. R., Cummings, N. K., & Desbrow, B. (2001). Guidelines for Daily Carbohydrate Intake. Sports Medicine, 31(4), 267–299. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200131040-00003

Burke, L. M., Loucks, A. B., & Broad, N. (2006). Energy and carbohydrate for training and recovery. Journal of Sports Sciences, 24(7), 675–685. https://doi.org/10.1080/02640410500482602

Campbell, B., Kreider, R. B., Ziegenfuss, T., La Bounty, P., Roberts, M., Burke, D., … Antonio, J. (2007). International Society of Sports Nutrition position stand: protein and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 4(1), 8. https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-4-8

Clark, M., Reed, D. B., Crouse, S. F., & Armstrong, R. B. (2003). Pre-and Post-season Dietary Intake, Body Composition, and Performance Indices of NCAA Division I Female Soccer Players. International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism, 13, 303–319.

Driskell, J. A., Schake, M. C., & Detter, H. A. (2008). Using Nutrition Labeling as a Potential Tool for Changing Eating Habits of University Dining Hall Patrons. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 108(12), 2071–2076. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jada.2008.09.009

Gallagher, D., Heymsfield, S. B., Heo, M., Jebb, S. A., Murgatroyd, P. R., & Sakamoto, Y. (2000). Healthy percentage body fat ranges: an approach for developing guidelines based on body mass index. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 72(3), 694–701.

Guthrie, J. F., Lin, B.-H., & Frazao, E. (2002). Role of Food Prepared Away from Home in the American Diet, 1977-78 versus 1994-96: Changes and Consequences. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 34(3), 140–150. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1499-4046(06)60083-3

Hassapidou, M. N., & Manstrantoni, A. (2001). Dietary intakes of elite female athletes in Greece. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 14, 391–396.

Hedrick Fink, H., & Mikesky, A. E. (2015). Practical Applications in Sports Nutrition (4th ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Barlet Learnings.

Hinton, P. S., Sanford, T. C., Davidson, M. M., Yakushko, O. F., & Beck, N. C. (2004). Nutrient intakes and dietary behaviors of male and female collegiate athletes. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 14(4), 389–405.

Institute of Medicine (IOM) Food and Nutrition Board. (2006). Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Jeukendrup, A. E. (2003). Modulation of carbohydrate and fat utilization by diet, exercise and environment. Biochemical Society Transactions, 31(6).

Kohrt, W. M. (1998). Preliminary evidence that DEXA provides an accurate assessment of body composition. Journal of Applied Physiology, 84(1), 372–377.

Kolodinsky, J., Harvey-Berino, J. R., Berlin, L., Johnson, R. K., & Reynolds, T. W. (2007). Knowledge of Current Dietary Guidelines and Food Choice by College Students: Better Eaters Have Higher Knowledge of Dietary Guidance. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 107(8), 1409–1413. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jada.2007.05.016

Kovacs, M. S. (2007). Tennis Physiology. Sports Medicine, 37(3), 189–198. https://doi.org/10.2165/00007256-200737030-00001

Malousaris, G. G., Bergeles, N. K., Barzouka, K. G., Bayios, I. A., Nassis, G. P., & Koskolou, M. D. (2008). Somatotype, size and body composition of competitive female volleyball players. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, 11, 337–344. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsams.2006.11.008

Martin, L., Lambeth, A., & Scott, D. (2006). Nutritional Practices of National Female Soccer Players: Anlysis and Recommendations. Journal of Sports Science and Medicine, 5, 130–137.

Mullinix, M. C., Jonnalagadda, S. S., Rosenbloom, C. A., Thompson, W. R., & Kicklighter, J. R. (2003). Dietary intake of female U.S. soccer players. Nutrition Research, 23, 585–593. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0271-5317(03)00003-4

Ousley-Pahnke, L., Black, D. R., & Gretebeck, R. J. (2001). Dietary intake and energy expenditure of female collegiate swimmers during decreased training prior to competition. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 101(3), 351–354.

Papadopoulou, S. K., Papadopoulou, S. D., & Gallos, G. K. (2002). Nutrient Intake of Adolescent Volleyball Players / 71 Macro-and Micro-Nutrient Intake of Adolescent Greek Female Volleyball Players. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 12, 71–78.

Pelletier, J. E., & Laska, M. N. (2013). Campus Food and Beverage Purchases Are Associated With Indicators of Diet Quality in College Students Living Off Campus. American Journal of Health Promotion, 28(2), 80–87. https://doi.org/10.4278/ajhp.120705-QUAN-326

Petersen, H. L., Peterson, C. T., Reddy, M. B., Hanson, K. B., Swain, J. H., Sharp, R. L., & Alekel, D. L. (2006). Body Composition, Dietary Intake, and Iron Status of Female Collegiate Swimmers and Divers. International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism, 16(3), 281–295.

Rodriguez, N. R., DiMarco, N. M., & Langley, S. (2009). Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 109(3), 509–527. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jada.2009.01.005

Sammarone Turocy, P., DePalma, B. F., Horswill, C. A., Laquale, K. M., Martin, T. J., Perry, A. C., … Utter, A. C. (2011). National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Safe Weight Loss and Maintenance Practices in Sport and Exercise. Journal of Athletic Training, 46(3), 322–336.

Shriver, L. H., Betts, N. M., & Wollenberg, G. (2013). Dietary Intakes and Eating Habits of College Athletes: Are Female College Athletes Following the Current Sports Nutrition Standards? Journal of American College Health, 61(1), 10–16.

Trumbo, P., Schlicker, S., Yates, A. A., & Poos, M. (2002). Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 102(11), 1621–1630. https://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0002-8223(02)90346-9

Tsunawake, N., Tahara, Y., Moji, K., Muraki, S., Minowa, K., & Yukawa, K. (2003). Body Composition and Physical Fitness of Female Volleyball and Basketball Players of the Japan Inter-high School Championship Teams. Journal of Physiological Anthropology and Applied Human Science, 22(4), 195–201. https://doi.org/10.2114/jpa.22.195

US Department of Health and Human Services. (2015). 2015–2020 dietary guidelines for Americans. Washington (DC): USDA.

Valliant, M. W., Pittman Emplaincourt, H., Kieckhaefer Wenzel, R., & Garner, B. H. (2012). Nutrition Education by a Registered Dietitian Improves Dietary Intake and Nutrition Knowledge of a NCAA Female Volleyball Team. Nutrients, 4(12), 506–516. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu4060506

Volpe, S. L. (2007). Micronutrient Requirements for Athletes. Clinics in Sports Medicine, 26, 119–130. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.csm.2006.11.009

Wenzel Kieckhaefer, R., Valliant Wells, M., Chang, Y., Bomba K., A., & Lambert G., L. (2012). Dietary assessment and education improves body composition and diet in NCAA female volleyball players. Topics in Clinical Nutrition, 27(1), 67–73. https://doi.org/10.1097/TIN.0b013e318246223b

Wilborn, C., Beckham, J., Campbell, B., Harvey, T., Galbreath, M., La Bounty, P., … Kreider, R. (2005). Obesity: Prevalence, Theories, Medical Consequences, Management, and Research Directions. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 2(22), 4–31.