Food intake and body composition in novice athletes during a training period to run a marathon

Int J Sports Med. 1989 May:10 Suppl 1:S17-21. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-1024949.


The change in diet and body composition was studied in a group of 9 female and 18 male subjects, starting a training program for 18 months with the ultimate goal of running the marathon. Mean daily intakes from 7-day dietary records for macro- and micronutrients were calculated at the start, after 1 year of training, and just before running the marathon. Anthropometric measurements were taken on the same occasions. In males the body fat mass decreased 2.4 kg, while in females no change in body composition was observed over the 18-month training period. Energy intake increased significantly in males from 131 to 159 kJ/kg/day. In women no significant change was recorded (141 to 147 kJ/kg/day). However, in both sexes CHO intake was significantly higher after 18 months (males 63.7-81.7 kJ/kg, females 68.0-81.9 kJ/kg). Also En% CHO increased significantly in males from 48 to 52 EN% and in females from 47 to 55 En%. This extra energy intake of CHO in women was covered at the expense of dietary fat. These changes in food habits in both groups are favorable in relation to the nutritional guidelines for better cardiovascular health. Whether the sex difference found in economizing energy exchange as a response to an intensive training program is based on an increased food efficiency will require further investigation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Composition*
  • Eating
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Physical Education and Training*
  • Physical Fitness
  • Running*
  • Sex Factors