Background: It is well known that healthy nutrition habits are associated with better general health state and can improve sports performance. However, many athletes have specific
dietary habits based on myths established in the “athletic universe” in which some people that low carbohydrates and high proteins diets are essential to improve athletic performance. So, an
inadequate knowledge about nutrition for the athlete can lead to nutrients imbalance, damaging both physical performance and health. This study aimed to evaluate the nutrition knowledge of athletes
with physical and visual disabilities.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted with 49 athletes (being 38 men) belonging to the following sports modalities: wheelchair rugby (n=8), goalball (n=16), judo (n=13),
5-a-side football (n=3) and paracanoe (n=9). All athletes filled up a validated questionnaire about dietary habits and knowledge, containing 11 affirmatives addressing topics on energy sources, role
of macronutrients, nutritional supplementation and rehydration. The subjects should agree, disagree or say that they didn’t know if the sentence was right or wrong. Data were presented as absolute and
relative frequency (SPSS 21.0).
Results: It was found that 25 athletes (51%) knew that carbohydrates and fats are the main energy sources. However, only 13 athletes (26.5%) knew that carbohydrate intake is not
necessarily associated with body fat increase. Thus, most of the athletes believed that they should avoid carbohydrate intake to improve body composition. The majority of the athletes (81.6%, n= 40)
believed that protein is the main source of energy for muscle contraction, and 37 participants (75.5%) responded that the supplementation of protein is absolutely necessary. All athletes knew that
dehydration decreases performance and most of them (95.9%; n=47) knew that fluids should be replaced before, during, and after exercise. A total of 81.6% (n=40) knew that thirst is not an adequate
indicator of fluid needs, and only 8.2% (n=6) responded that sports drinks are better than water. Concerning micronutrients and minerals, 79.6% (n=39) said that vitamin and mineral supplements
Conclusions: Our results indicate that athletes’ knowledge about sports nutrition is limited and it can negatively influence their dietary practices and performance. Therefore,
explaining to these individuals the relationship between nutrition and sport is fundamental to trace an individualized and more adequate dietary prescription. It is noteworthy that the adequacy of
diet for athletes can contribute to the rehabilitation and might improve sports performance.