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Medical Journal of The Islamic Republic of Iran
National Research Centre of Medical Sciences of I.R. IRAN
ISSN: 1016-1430
Vol. 18, Num. 1, 2004, pp. 73-77

Medical Journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran , Vol. 18, No. 1, May, 2004, pp. 73-77



From the National Nutrition and Food Technology Research Institute, Shaheed Beheshti University and Medical Services, Tehran, I.R. Iran.

Address for correspondence: No. 46, West Arghavan St., Farahzadi Blvd., Shahrake Qods (west), Tehran, Iran. Zip Code: 1981619573, P.O.Box: 19395-4741, Tel: (98-21) 2360659, Fax:: (98-21) 2360660, 2360659 E-mail:

Code Number: mr04012


In this descriptive cross-sectional study 14 national basketball team players attending the preparatory camp for the Asian games with mean age of 25.6 ± 3.1 yrs, height of 191 ± 6 cm, weight of 87.3 ± 8.1 kg and BMI of 23.9±1.7 were surveyed. The subjects underwent anthropometric, aerobic power, body fat content and VO2max measurements in three stages of the training period (before training, during training and before the actual competition). In two stages (before and during training) nutritional assessment and food intake using weighing method in 7 intermittent days was made.

Anthropometric measurements showed body weight and BMI changes during the period of study to be negligible and non-significant.

Subcutaneous fat was reduced significantly (p< 0.02). Also VO2 max increased appreciably (p<0.001) from 42.3± 3.3 in the first stage to 44.3 ± 4.4 and 44.5 ± 2.2 mL/Kg body weight per minute in the second and third stage respectively which demonstrates the positive role of exercise on maximum oxygen uptake or VO2max. The results of quantitative food intake assessment showed the energy intake to be at 3900 kcal per day.

At this stage carbohydrate, fat and protein provided 50, 35 and 15% of energy respectively. In the second stage energy intake was 3600 kcal with 55, 30 and 15% of energy coming from carbohydrate, fat and protein respectively which were in the normal range in both stages.

Regarding vitamins and minerals, intake of iron, calcium and ascorbic acid was above the range, while thiamin, riboflavin and niacin were within the range and vitamin A as well as B6 were below the recommended levels.

Further research regarding nutrient intake monitoring, nutrition education of athletes and coaches as well as international nutrition research offering a defined menu in preparatory camps is necessary.

Keywords: Food intake, skinfold thickness, basketball, VO2max, athlete's nutrition.


There is a close relationship between nutritional practices and athletic performance, which lead to success.Nutrition is considered as one of the main factors as others like genetics and exercise, in this regard.1,2 Besides proper nutrition, physiological capacity and fitness including aerobic power expressed as maximum oxygen consumption (VO2 max) are important in athletic performance and success, distinguishing athletes in many sports activities from their competitors. Research has shown that improvement in VO2max through proper nutrition planning, exercise, technical education and body building can result in maximum physical capacity.3

Proper nutrition based on type of activity and the needs of athletes especially during preparatory camps for national, regional and global competition is vital.4 As basketball is a medal-winning sport in our country and nutrition has shown a positive influence on their success, in this study the nutritional status of male basketball players present in the Olympics camp was assessed by using food intake, anthropometry, body fat as well as physical fitness or aerobic ability by measuring VO2max in the subjects during July and August 1998.

As many other related factors such as motivation, training, and health status are considered, the results of nutritional study in this study would be used for future planning and programming in order to bring the national teams up to par with their international competitors.


In this cross-sectional descriptive study, 14 national basketball team players attending the preparatory camp for the Asian games were surveyed in three stages (before, and during training and competition). Height and weight were measured and body mass index (BMI) calculated. Skinfold thickness and VO2max were determined. Seven - day food intake was recorded in two stages in the camp. Height was measured without shoes using a plastic tape measure. The subjects were weighed with minimum clothing on a lever scale.5 Skinfold thickness was measured using Harpenden caliper at biceps, triceps, subscapular and suprailiac locations.6 Harvard Step test7 was employed to measure VO2max.8 These tests were performed at the beginning and in the end of each stage. Food intake was assessed in two stages for 7 intermittent days, each day recording 3 main meals as well as mid-morning, afternoon and after dinner snacks. Mean daily energy and nutrient intakes were analyzed using Nutritionist IV software. For chemical analysis of the food, the duplicate meals in plastic containers were frozen and transferred to the Institute's experimental food laboratory where Kjeldal and Suxelle measured protein, fat and carbohydrates and moisture for protein and fat respectively. Carbohydrate was calculated by difference.9

In the beginning 20 basketball players present in the camp with mean age 25.6 ± 3.1 years, weight 87.3 ± 8.1 kg, height 191±6 cm and BMI 23.9 were surveyed .At the end of this stage, six were eliminated from the competition list due to their physical difficulties and their final entrance records and therefore the remaining 14 were followed up in the second and third stages.


Table I shows mean anthropometric, skinfold thickness and VO2max in the subjects. Anthropometric measurements show the alterations in weight were insignificant during the study period. Subcutaneous fat decreased (p<0.02) while VO2 max increased (p<0.01).

Quantitative food intake analysis showed energy in-Table III. Mean vitamin and mineral intake in comparison with take in the first stage to be 3900 kcal, 50% from carbohy-the recommended levels in the subjects.drates, 15% from protein and 35% from fat in the diet. In the second stage average daily energy intake was 3600 kcal, 55% from carbohydrate, 15% from protein and 30% from fat.

The mean energy, protein, fat and carbohydrate intake in the subjects are presented in Table II. The vitamin and mineral intakes including iron, calcium and vitamin C were above, that of thiamine, riboflavin and niacin were within and that of vitamin A and B6 were below the recommended levels (Table III).

The percentage calorie intake from various food groups in two stages of the camp are shown in Fig. 1.

The mean food intake and their calories in the subjects showed that bread and rice provided 30% of daily energy need (Table IV). There was a significant correlation between VO2max with subcutaneous fat and weight (p<0.02), BMI with subcutaneous fat (p<0.02), and body weight with carbohydrates, protein and fat in the diet (p<0.02).


In this study a reduction in subcutaneous fat during the preparatory period was observed as with other stud-The recommended levels (RDA) are in parentheses.ies.10 On the other hand previous studies reported the changes in subcutaneous fat thickness to depend on the original fat content in the basketball players, in that, ing period was observed similar to previous studies.12,13 those with the least subcutaneous fat only gained weight Other studies have recommended exercise at 50% VO2max while those with average fat thickness lost some body for 15 minutes, three times per week for 3 to 9 month fat as well as gaining weight during the exercise period.11 periods based on American College of Sports Medicine, A significant increase in VO2max at the end of the train-in order to achieve maximum aerobic activity.14

In general, those with regular and continued exercise, besides increasing maximum oxygen uptake, will be able to engage in more physical activity with less fatigue. Also, return to the original physiological state will occur faster in these individuals. The energy expenditure of playing basketball is considered to be 360 - 660 kcal per hour.15 Therefore, 540 - 990 kcal is needed for each 1.5 hr of practice in the morning and in the afternoon, adding to 1500-2000 kcal above the normal requirement. The recommended energy intake is 4500-5000 kcal for male basketball players.16 The present study shows total energy intake for these players was lower than the recommended range. Others have reported similar find-17,18,19 Our data demonstrates the percentage of energy received from carbohydrates was within the acceptable usual range.16 Similar results have been shown during training and before competition in basketball play-19,20 Protein intake in our subjects was within the recommended levels.20,21

In heavy physical activity up to 17% of energy was derived from proteins, about 50% above the RDA.16 The percentage of the energy received from fat was within the recommended level, which is below 30% total en-ergy.22 As for vitamins and minerals no considerable variation in iron, calcium and vitamin C was observed and the mean intake was above the RDA. Although thiamine, riboflavin and niacin intakes were lower in the second stage, they were within the recommended range in both stages. Vitamins A and B6 were below the recommended level during the survey period.

Food frequency recall showed the majority of the athletes consumed dairy and milk groups 3-5 times per week while cereals, vegetables and fruits were consumed daily. This is similar to the observations of previous studies.23

In conclusion although nutrient intake with the exception of vitamin A and B6, were generally within the recommended levels, further research is needed to determine the relationship between the type, duration and severity of sports activities with the actual needs of the athletes as well as interventional nutrition studies to arrive at a suitable dietary plan to achieve maximum physical fitness for heavy sports activities.

This study was funded by the National Nutrition and Food Technology Research Institute. We wish to thank Dr Ali Ghazanfari, Mr Gholam Reza Fathalian & Ali Hosseini Khirabadi for assistance in the field survey.

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Copyright 2004 -Medical Journal of the Islamic Republic of Iran

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