n South African Journal of Sports Medicine - Body composition, dietary intake and supplement use among triathletes residing in the Western Cape : original research

Volume 23, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 1015-5163
  • E-ISSN: 2078-516X



The aim of this study was to determine body composition, dietary intake and supplement use among Olympic and Ironman distance triathletes residing in the Western Cape.

A descriptive, analytical, cross-sectional study design was conducted in Western Cape Province. Twenty-six triathletes registered with Triathlon South Africa were included. Percentage body fat was measured via multi-frequency bio-electrical impedance analysis and anthropometry. Dietary intake and supplement use were measured with an estimated 3-day food record and questionnaire.
The mean age of the men and women was 38±7 and 38±10 years respectively. The mean amount of training per week for men and women respectively was 15±4 and 15±5 hours. The percentage body fat (%BF) of men and women was 13±4% and 21±6%, respectively. The mean dietary macronutrient intake for men and women respectively was for total energy intake 14 535±4 510 kJ and 9 004±2 369 kJ, carbohydrate intake 5.3±1.9 g/kg and 3.5±1.0 g/kg, protein intake 2.0±0.5 g/kg and 1.2±0.2 g/kg and fat intake 35±10% and 30±6% of total energy intake. Seventy-three per cent of the triathletes used over-the-counter dietary supplements.
Percentage body fat of the men and women was at the upper end of the range associated with elite athletes. Overall the athletes had a fairly good intake of macro- and micronutrients. Inadequate habitual carbohydrate intake was attenuated by the vast majority of the triathletes taking additional carbohydrate supplementation. Various supplements were used widely among the athletes.

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