A Comparison Between UK and Cyprus Based Male Football Athletes in Terms of Dietary Intake, Markers of Physiological Stress, and Training Load
Few studies have examined the relationship of nutritional intake and training load between different football teams. Additionally, there are not any comparison studies regarding training load in terms of energy cost and whether this is sufficiently balanced with energy intake. The present study aimed to examine if there was a difference in nutrition intake and training load between teams from different geographical locations across football training season, and how both influence training stress markers regarding training sessions. Methods: Following ethical approval, participants (n=45; age 24.47 ± 6.07 years; height 1.75 ± 0.08 m; mass 74.86 ± 9.57 kg) were male footballers from three different teams; one UK based professional team and two Cyprus based teams; professional (UKpro), semi-professional (CYsem) and recreational (CYrec). Data was collected from all teams at three time points across an annual training programme (pre, mid, end season). A food recall 4-day diary was used to record nutritional intake and metabolic equivalent (MET) values of physical activities method was used to quantify the energy cost of training. Saliva samples were collected during a standard training week on a fixed day pre- and post-training, and at rest 24hours post training. Samples were analysed in duplicate via enzyme linked immunoassay (ELISA) for secretory IgA, cortisol and testosterone. Results: It was found that across all three testing blocks none of the groups received inadequate nutritional energy intake. All groups showed consumption of the investigated micronutrients in higher than recommended daily amounts (RDA) but only vitamin C was significantly higher (> 20%) for UKpro compared to Cyprus groups . Furthermore, findings showed that pre-season average daily energy cost was not the highest across season and neither difference between blocks was significant. In parallel, both average daily energy intake and s-IgA did not show important changes. Conclusions: The collected results revealed that energy expenditure for UK based professional players was not significantly higher neither regarding the average daily or training day energy cost between all three testing blocks and with balanced nutritional energy intake. Monitoring Salivary IgA in football athletes may be an effective way to monitoring recovery.