Nutritional Adaptations in Elite Soccer Referees: First Evidence and Perspectives

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Although the physiological cost of refereeing has been already studied in the literature, especially in soccer umpires, it remains unknown whether referees spontaneously adapt their energy intake during game days. Six national soccer referees completed 24-hour dietary recalls (assisted by the SU.VI.MAX copybook) during a control day (CON) and a day with a game (GAME). The stress level and hunger feelings were assessed using visual analogue scales. Total energy intake, energy derived from macronutrients and energy intake at each meal were analyzed using the Bilnuts nutrition software. Total daily energy intake was not significantly different between conditions (CON: 2270 ± 535 vs. GAME: 2782 ± 293). Energy derived from fat and protein was not different between conditions but the participants ingested more calories derived from carbohydrates during the GAME day (45.5 ± 5.9% vs. 54.9 ± 5.5%, respectively, p<0.05). The calories ingested during snacking were significantly increased during GAME compared with CON (p<0.05). The stress level was significantly higher during GAME and especially before the breakfast, lunch and snack (p<0.05). Hunger feeling was not different between conditions. Referring leads to nutritional adaptations in elite soccer umpires, who tend to increase their energy intake mainly during snacking, by increasing their carbohydrate consumption.

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