Purpose: To assess the dietary intake, nutrition knowledge and hydration status of Irish Gaelic footballers. Method: One hundred and sixty-eight male club/county level Irish Gaelic footballers (median [IQR]; age 23 years [20.0, 27.0]; height 1.79 m [1.74, 1.84]; body mass 78.0 kg [73.5, 84.8]) participated in this cross-sectional study. Dietary intake was assessed using a 4-day semi-quantitative food record, with the application of Goldberg cut-offs to define acceptable reporters (n = 62). Nutrition knowledge was assessed using the validated Nutrition for Sport Knowledge Questionnairen a sub-group of athletes (n = 24), while hydration status was measured using urine specific gravity pre-exercise (USG) in 142 athletes. Results: Dietary analysis indicated an energy deficit at the group level (485 kcal [IQR 751,6]) (p < 0.001), with carbohydrate intakes (3.6 g/kg [IQR 3.0,4.1]) below current guidelines for athletes participating in one hour moderate intensity exercise per day (5–7 g/kg; p < 0.001). Average vitamin D (3.8 µg [IQR 1.8, 5.5]) and selenium intakes (54.2 µg [47.2, 76.7]) were significantly below the reference nutrient intakes (p < 0.001). A high proportion of individual athletes also had sub-optimal intakes for: vitamin D (95.2%), selenium (72.6%), vitamin A (38.7%), potassium (30.6%), zinc (25.8%), magnesium (19.4%) and calcium (12.9%). Nutrition knowledge was deemed poor (40.2 ± 12.4%), while pre-exercise hydration status (median USG 1.010 [IQR 1.005, 1.017]) was significantly below the cut-off to denote dehydration (1.020; p < 0.001). Conclusions: Our findings suggest that Irish Gaelic footballers have sub-optimal dietary practices and lack nutrition knowledge. Individualised nutrition support may benefit these athletes to meet their nutrition requirements, to support health and performance.
- Team sport