Possible correlation between seasonal body composition changes in a senior gaelic football team and macro nutrient intake values


Fintan Whelan1, Sarah McDonald2, Bernie McGowan2, Bryan Whelan2, Carmel Silke2


1Department of Life Sciences, Sligo IT. 2The North Western Rheumatology Unit, Our Lady’s Hospital, Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim


Increases in lean mass increase the force of muscular contractions making athletes more energy efficient when performing1. In order to maximize performance elite Gaelic players need to achieve an optimum sport-specific body size and body composition.


To analyse seasonal changes in body composition in a senior inter county Gaelic team and to identify a possible correlation between body composition measures and macro nutrient intake values.


Body Composition Analyses was performed on 31 members of a senior inter county gaelic team at 2 seperate study points 2014/2015 using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DXA) at the The North Western Rheumatology Unit. Results were compared to recommended values for athletes2. Nutritional assessment was conducted using the validated EPIC Norfolk Food Frequency Questionnaire3.


There was a decrease in mean percentage tissue fat from 15.89 (±SD 5.37) at pre-season to 14.65, (± SD 4.80) at mid-season with a corresponding increase in the mean lean mass. The players achieved the minimum recommended intake of protein, carbohydrate, iron and calcium but exceeded recommendations for fat % energy and saturated fat % energy. The mean values for fibre and Vit D were significantly lower than the recommended values. The players reported consuming a mean daily total of 1843.99, ±426 calories, lower than the page 36 recommended intake of 2400 to 2800 calories for athletes. There was no positive correlation identified between percentage tissue fat changes and various micro and macro nutrient intake.


Monitoring of body composition changes and dietary intake during a competitive playing season provide players and their management with valuable information in relation to reaching the required level of peak physical condition.