Food provision is crucial for rational diet and improvement in exercise tolerance and performance in elite athletes. In addition to balanced and adequate nutrients, nutritional adherence is also an
important interfering factor for food intake. However, there is insufficient research investigating effects of food provision on athletes’ dietary intake. This study was conducted to assess the impact
of food components and overall satisfaction with meal on nutrient and energy intake in elite female water polo players.
Six-day buffet food component (weighed records) and dietary intake including all food, fluid, and supplements consumed (24-h recalls) were assessed for 3 times with one month interval in Chinese
Women’s Water Polo Team (23±4 yr, 23±2 kg/m2, n=32). The animal source food mainly came from general or high quality of sea food depending on freshness and size, or came from meat and poultry
respectively. Sources of other food, cooks, dinning environment, and variety of menu were remained the same during the study. The subjects trained 32 hours per wk, and ate buffet together at meal
times. Overall satisfaction with meal were assessed by a five-point Likert scale ranged from "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree".
There were no significant differences concerning levels of morning proteinuria, morning pulse, and rating of perceived exertion among the three survey periods. Significant differences were observed
concerning levels of energy density, percentage of energy from macronutrient, dietary fiber, retinol, niacin, ascorbic acid, calcium, phosphate, sodium, potassium, iron, zinc, selenium, and copper in
food prepared for buffets, and scores of overall satisfaction with meals among the three food provision survey periods. Significant differences were observed concerning percentage of energy from
carbohydrate and fat, levels of dietary fiber, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, ascorbic acid, vitamin E, sodium, iron, zinc, selenium, magnesium, and copper but not daily energy intake among the three
dietary intake surveys.
Calorie and nutrient intake are the two most important components of dietary intake. Due to the energy expenditure caused by physical activity, athletes need to consume more energy to meet elevated
energy requirements. On the other hand, the regulation of nutrient intake is more complicated. Besides sufficient nutrients sources, nutrition supply satisfaction and compliableness are also
important. The different alteration of calorie and nutrient intake accompanying changes of food components and overall satisfaction with meal in this study provide evidence that food provision
influences daily nutrient intake, but not energy intake, in elite female water polo players.