Dietary Intake, Anthropometric Measurements and Plasma Lipid Levels in Throwing Field Athletes M. Faber, A.-J. Spinnier-Benadé, A. Daubitzer


M. Faber, A.-J. Spinnier Benadé and A. Daubitzer, Dietary Intake, Anthropometric Measurements and Plasma Lipid Levels in Throwing Field Athletes. Tnt J Sports Med, Vol 10, No 2,pp 140—145,1990.

runners and jumpers. They had large muscles and more body fat. It has been shown that normal-fat individuals had lower plasma total cholesterol (TC) and triacylglycerol (TAG) levels as compared to overfat subjects (29). Although Matter et al. (29) found similar HDL-cholesterol (HDL-C) levels in the above mentioned groups, many studies have indicated that HDL-C is inversely correlated with body weight (17,25), body mass index (17) and obesity (14).

Accepted after revision: July 7, 1989 Since little descriptive data for field athletes is

available, the anthropometric measurements, dietary intake and plasma lipid levels of 22 male and 15 female field athletes (throwers) are reported. Percentage body fat was calculated by using four skinfold thicknesses. Using this measurement as criterion, 53 % of the females were obese. Percentage body fat and body mass index showed a positive

correlation with total plasma cholesterol and plasma tnacylglycerol and a negative correlation with percentage HDL cholesterol for males and females. Five of the males and three of the females were hypercholesterolaemic. The seven day estimated dietary record was used to determine their dietary intake. The males as well as the females consumed a diet that was high in fat and cholesterol content. Their diets were low in carbohydrate. It is recommended that these athletes increase their carbohydrate intake and lower their total fat intake. It is also recommended that the obese subjects should lose weight.

Key words

field athletes, plasma lipids, dietary intake

It has been indicated that some types of exercise may have favorable effects on plasma lipid levels. An endurance training program resulted in lower TAG and higher HDL-C levels (11,22). The HDL-C elevating effect of a moderate physical training program is not because of body weight changes (21). Runners had lower TC levels and higher %HDLC as compared to weight-lifters and controls (6). These lower TC levels could not be demonstrated in speedskaters, but they did have higher HDL-C levels compared to weight-lifters and controls (12). It has also been shown that frequent tennis playing is associated with increased levels of HDL-C (36). A few studies indicated that weight training or other resistance training may improve plasma lipid levels. It

has been demonstrated that a weight training program

decreases plasma TC and increases HDL-C levels (23). The ratio of TC/HDL-C is decreased after a weight training program (18). Although McKillop and Ballantyne (30) could find no difference in plasma lipid levels between body builders and sedentary controls, it has been shown that body builders have lower IC levels but similar HDL-C levels as compared to sedentary controls (38). Power athletes (weight-lifters and

hammer throwers) had lower HDL-C and higher LDL-C anthropometry,


levels and a lower HDL-C/TC ratio as compared to athletes

who participated in aerobic and anaerobic exercise. The power athletes had a higher relative body weight than aerobic trained subjects. It was shown that the levels of TC, TAG, apo


Very few studies have been reported on field athletes, especially the throwers, in the international literature. The dietary intake and lipid profiles of these athletes are unknown. Malina and co-workers (28) studied anthropometric measurements in female field and track athletes. They found that the field athletes (discus throwers, javelin throwers and shotputters) were taller and heavier than sprinters, distance mt. J. Sports Med. 11(1990) 140—145

GeorgThiemeVerlagStuttgart NewYork

B and LDL-C were dependent on relative body weight (2). When studying weight training athletes, it should be kept in mind that many of these athletes use anabolic steroids in order to increase muscle mass and strength. Body builders using anabolic steroids had higher TC, higher LDL-C and lower HDL-C

levels as compared to body builders not using anabolic steroids (30). Since the plasma lipid profile of field athletes is unknown, we decided to study their plasma lipid levels. In this paper we report descriptive data on the plasma lipid profile of male and female throwers as well as anthropometric data and dietary intake.

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Research Institute for Nutritional Diseases of the South African Medical Research Council, P. 0. Box 70, Tygerberg, 7505, Republic of South Africa

Dietary Intake, A nthropometric Measurements and Plasma Lipid Levels in Throwing FieldAthietes

mt. J. Sports Med. 11(1990) 141


Blood sampling and analysis


Fasting blood samples (20 ml, blood) were drawn from the antecubital vein into plain vacutainer tubes using EDTA (1 mg x mV1) as anticoagulant. The blood was

the National championships in 1988. The group included shotputters, discus and hammer throwers as well as javelin throwers. Twenty-two males and 15 females participated in the study. All the athletes gave their written consent to take part in the study.

Anthropometric Measurements The subjects were weighed in light clothing to the nearest 0.1 kg and height (without shoes) was measured in centimeters with a measuring rod to the nearest 0.1 cm. The

body mass index (BMI) was calculated as weight (kg) x heighr2 (m) (4). A Harpenden caliper was used to measure four skinfold thicknesses i. e. biceps, triceps, subscapular and supra-iliac on the right side of the body with the

subject in a standing position, as described by Durnin and Rahaman (8). Measurements were repeated three times at each site and the average values were used to calculate the percentage body fat using the tables given by Durnin and Womersley (9). Upper arm circumference was measured to the nearest mm with the right arm hanging relaxed. The measurement was

taken midway between the tip of the acromion and the olecranon process. Bone-free arm muscle area (AMA) was calculated using the following formula:

AMA (cm2)

((arm circumference (cm) —

it x triceps (cm))2/4ir)— 10 (13). Dietary Information Dietary information was collected using the 7day estimated dietary record method. Van Staden (35) has indicated that this method is a valid method for obtaining habitual macro-nutrient intake. Data were obtained during their winter training program. Recordings were made on standard

forms which were, together with a detailed instruction list, given to the participants by a dietitian who also instructed them about the recording of food intake. The amount of food eaten was reported in household measures, e. g. standard cups or tablespoons or the dimensions of the food eaten were given. If the weight of the food was known to the subject, it was recorded. The participants were asked not to alter their usual diet during this 7-day period. Special forms were provided for the recording of their physical training program during the 7-day

period as well as any supplements and medication taken during this period. All quantities of food consumed were con-

verted to grams and computer-coded. The weight of the volumes and household measurements were controlled by using the NRIND Food Quantities Manual (27), a manual which gives the weights for all the items included in the NRIND Food Composition Tables. Different household measurements (e. g. 1 heaped teaspoon, I level tablespoon,

kept on ice until it was centrifuged at 3000 rpm for 15 mm. The

plasma was used for the determination of uric acid and the isolation of the different lipid fractions. Uric acid was determined by the enzymatic colorimetric test (Boehringer Mannheim, catalogue no. 556726). Plasma triacylglycerol (TAG) was measured by the fully enzymatic UV method Test combi-

nation (Boehringer Mannheim, catalogue no. 240052). Plasma total cholesterol (TC) was determined by the high performance CHOD-PAP enzymatic colorimetric method (Boehringer Mannheim, catalogue no. 237574). High density lipo-

proteins (HDL) were separated by precipitating the Apo B containing lipoproteins in the plasma with heparin manganese chloride (16). The HDL2 was precipitated by the addition of dextran sulfate (MW 15 000) to derive the HDL3 fraction. The total cholesterol content of HDL (HDL-C) and HDL3 (HDL3C) was determined by an enzymatic iodide method (E Merck, Darmstadt, catalogue no. 14350). The cholesterol values for HDL2 were determined by subtracting the HDL3 values from the HDL values. Apolipoproteins Al and Al 1 were measured

directly on the plasma. Antibodies against human apolipoproteins were used for Apo Al (Boehringer Mannheim, catalogue no. 726478) and Apo Al 1 (726479). Standardized human serum was used as standard for measuring all apolipoproteins and cholesterol in the plasma and HDL fractions. Samples of control serum (Boehringer Mannheim GmbH, cat-

alogue no. 125067) were included in each batch of samples analysed for uric acid, cholesterol and triglyceride content. The combined VLDL and IDL (density range 1.006—1.019 g x mr') and LDL (density range 1.019—1.063

g x mr') were seperated by sequential preparative ultracentrifugation with density adjustments using NaBr (20). A fixed angle 40,3 rotor was used in a Beckman L8 80M ultracentrifuge at 10 °C, 40,000 rpm. Two spins of 20 hours each were done. Total cholesterol of the VLDL+ IDL and the LDL fractions were determined using an enzymatic iodide method as

for the HDL fractions. Apo B was measured in the plasma nephelometrically using antiserum against human apolipoprotein B (Boehringer Mannheim GmbH, catalogue no. 726494).

Statistical analysis The mean and standard deviation (SD) for the anthropometric, dietary and plasma lipid values are given.

The non-parametric Spearman correlation coefficient between the major plasma lipid values and anthropometric measurements was calculated. The percentage body fat could not be calculated for two males and three females because of excessive subcutaneous fat. When calculating the Spearman correlation coefficient, the percentage body fat for these two males was set on 30% and that for the three females on 40%.

1/2 cup, etc.) of the food items were listed against the weight of

the food item. The food items were then computer-coded. Nutrient intake was analyzed by computer using the NRIND Food Composition Tables 1986 (19). This paper will report only the macro-nutrient intake.


Anthropometry It is shown in Table 1 that the athletes were tall and very heavy. Since at least one of the four skinfold measurements could not be taken from 5 of the athletes (3 females and 2

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Thirty-seven field athletes between the ages of 17 and 31 years were studied. All the athletes participated at

M. Faber, A.-J. SpinnierBenadE, A. Daubitzer

mt. J. Sports Med. 11(1990) Table 1 Mean (and standard deviation) values for the anthropometric data of 35 field athletes

Table 2 Mean (and standard deviation) values for the plasma lipids of 37 field athletes

FieldAthletes (n 37) Parameter

Males (n = 22) mean (SD)

Age (years) Height (cm) Weight (kg)

Skinfolds: biceps (mm) triceps (mm) subscapular (mm) suprailiac(mm) Arm circumference (cm)

%Bodyfata BMlb AMAC



187.8 99.0


3.6) 5.2)


3.7 9.0 15.3




3.2) 5.2)



36.1 16.7k


28.0 79.5


Fie/dAthietes (n Males (n 22) mean (SD)

Females (n = 15) mean (SD)


22.0 177.3 87.6

uricacid(mglOOmF1) plasmaTC(mglOOmr1) plasmaTAG (mg 100m1') HDL-C(mglOOmr1)

10.1 22.41 23.22

( 2.8) ( 6.4) (16.1)

( 9.2)



(10.0) (10.6) (12.6)

ApoAl (mg100mr') ApoAll (mg100mr') HDL3-C(mg100mr) HDL2-C(mg100mr)

3.6) 3.9) 3.4)


( 3.0)












( 7.4)

SD = standard deviation a Calculated from the sum of the 4 skinfolds using the tables given by Durnin and Womersley (9)

VLDL-C(mg100mr) ApoB(mglOOmr1)


Females (n = 15) mean (SD)


( 0.9)


( 1.4)

194.8 100.5 45.4 24.4

(43.2) (43.7) (11.6)

195.6 84.7 56.7 29.9





37.5 33.6 11.8 150.0 16.3 82.0

( 7.2) ( 6.7) ( 7.2)

154.1 40.1

( 8.1)



( 7.2) ( 7.1) ( 8.4) ( 8.3)

39.0 17.7 136.2 11.8 70.4


( 9.7) (32.7)


( 6.2) (17.7)

SD = standard deviation, TC = total cholesterol, C cholesterol, TAG = triacylglycerol, HDL = high density lipoprotein, LDL = low density lipoprotein, VLDL = very low density lipoprotein, Apo = apoprotein.

b BMI weight (kg) height2 (m) (4) AMA (arm circumference — it x triceps (cm))2( 4 it) —10(13) one subject could not be measured (> 40) 2 two subjects could not be measured (> 40) three subjects could not be measured (> 40) the % bodyfat of two subjects could not be calculated the % bodyfat of three subjects could not be calculated 1

Table 3 The Spearman correlation coefficients (r) and level of significance (p) for the plasma lipid levels and anthropometric measurements

RWiP 1

RWIP = onesubjectcouldnotbemeasured(> 40) males) because of readings of more than 40 mm, the percent-

age body fat of these 5 subjects could not be calculated. The mean values for the skinfolds and the percentage body fat are those for the remaining subjects. Obesity can be defined as a percentage body fat greater than 25% for males and greater than 30% for females (4). Using these criteria, eight (53 %)of the females and two (9%) of the males could be classified as being obese.


%BodyFat Females





0.65586 0.0009

0.52879 0.0427

0.21632 NS

0.61429 0.0148


—0.44825 NS














0.58447 0.0043

0.48119 NS

0.20384 NS

0.59560 0.0246

0.58618 0.0041







Plasma TC

r p HDL-C

r p %HDL-C

r p LDL-C

r p

Two of the male subjects admitted taking


steroids at the time that the blood was drawn. Another three of


the male subjects admitted having taken anabolic steroids

NS = not significant.

plasma TAG, LDL-C and Apo B and lower HDL-C and



Plasma lzpids

some time before the study. Since there is no certainty that all the other athletes have no history of using steroids, there is no differentiation between those athletes that are using steroids and those that are clean. There were specific differences between the males admitting using steroids and those not using steroids. The steroid users had markedly higher plasma TC,

BMl Males

Plasma TAG

are being considerede as a high risk for coronary heart disease

(34). Five males and three females had plasma cholesterol levels above 240 mg x dl. Six males and four females had LDL-C levels above 160 mg/dl and four males and one female

had HDL-C levels below 35mg x dl.

%HDL-C levels, with almost all of the HDL-C in the form of

HDL3-C (results not shown). The Spearman correlation coefficients between the main plasma lipid levels and the anthropometric measurements are indicated in Table 3. Percentage body fat correlated positively with plasma TC, LDL-C (males) and plasma TAG (males) and negatively with %HDLC. BMI correlated positively with plasma TC (females) and

LDL-C (females) and negatively with HDL-C (males) and %HDL-C. The desirable level for plasma cholesterol is below

200 mg/dl and that for LDL-C below 130 mg/dl. A high plasma cholesterol level is above 240 mg/dl, a high risk value for LDL-C is above 160mg and HDL-C levels below 35 mg/dI

Dietary Intake Only 30 athletes (20 males and 10 females) completed the dietary record in usable form. This gives a response rate of 81 %. This response rate is in accordance with that as summarized by Gersovitz et a!. (15). The means and standard deviations for the dietary intake are given in Table 4. Values for the general population are also included in Table 4. As compared to the dietary guidelines (31), the athletes had a

very high cholesterol intake and a high percentage of the energy in the diet was supplied by fat.

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Dietary Intake, Anthropometric Measurements and Plasma Lipid Levels in Throwing FieldAthletes

mt. J. Sports Med. 11(1990) 143

Table 4 Mean (and standard deviation) values forthe dietary intake data of 3ofield athletes Males (n = 20) mean (SD)

energy (calories) energy(kJ)

kJkg1 bodyweight

3485 14612 152

1015 24.8

cholesterol (mg)

fibre(g) alcohol(g)

2.1 18.6

%E-protein %E-fat




%E-PU fat %E-CHO

8.0 41.1 0.51 1.65

P/S ratio

gprotkg1 bodyweight

(780) (3272) (36) (459) (10.0) (3.3) (3.8) (4.4) (1.9) (1.9) (7.4) (0.20) (0.90)

Females ( n = 10) mean (SD) 2215 9285 112 625 19.3 1.4

17.2 38.0 13.5 6.8 46.4 0.45 1.14

(479) (2013) (28)

(450) (8.1) (3.7) (2.3) (5.5) (2.2) (0.9) (7.8) (0.09) (0.29)

General P opulation1 Males mean (SD) —

12000 —

509 18.8 3.2 15.1

35.0 13.2

6.2 46.6 0.51 —

(4300) —

(339) (12.9) (6.4) (3.9) (7.2) (3.6) (2.4) (10.3) (0.24) —

Females mean —

7100 —

302 14.6 1.0

15.5 36.1 13.5 . 6.7

46.8 0.55 —

(SD) —

(2600) —

(214) (8.0) (4.9) (4.9) (6.8) (3.6) (2.8) (10.1) (0.32) —

1 Wolmaransetal. (37). SD = standard deviation, CHO = carbohydrates, %E- = percentage of total energy intake, PU = polyunsaturated, P/S = polyunsaturated fat/saturated fat ratio.


ficult to express the protein needs interms of ideal weight since the ideal weight of the athletes cannot be determined. To over-

The height, weight and percentage body fat of our male athletes were in accordance with those recorded by Fahey (10). The height and weight of the females were higher than those of the female athletes studied by Malina (28). The percentage body fat of our athletes was, however, the same as that found by Malina (28). It should be kept in mind that the actual mean value of percentage body fat was higher than the given value since the percentage body fat of five of the athletes could not be calculated and is therefore excluded from the mean. If it had been possible to calculate the percentage body fat of these five obese athletes, the mean percentage body fat would have been higher. If percentage body fat is used as crite-

come this problem, protein requirements can also be ex-

rion, a very high 53% of the females studied would be

energy intake is below 4000 kcal per day, the athletes should have no problem in consuming most of the carbohydrate in the form of complex carbohydrates. If the energy intake is higher than 4000 kcal per day, the bulk associated with a high complex carbohydrate intake may be intolerable for some people

classified as being obese. Ideal weight cannot be indicated because, firstly, the weight for height tables do not include the very tall people and, secondly, because the weight of muscular

athletes can be 30% greater than average body weight recorded in standard weight for height tables (26). Although skinfold thicknesses cannot be used to calculate ideal body weight as such, they can give an indication of ideal percentage

body fat. In males, 15—18% of body weight is fat, and for

pressed in terms of percentage of the total energy intake. It has been stated that diets containing 12% of the energy as protein is sufficient for all athletes (32), provided energy intake is sufficient. The athletes, especially the males, can therefore reduce their protein intake without any negative effects on performance.

The percentage of the energy supplied by carbohydrates is 41 % for the males and 46% for the females. It has

been recommended that athletes should consume at least 55%

of their energy intake as carbohydrates (5). As long as the

and they may have to make more use of refined or energydense foods such as sugar (5). If the carbohydrate content of the athletes diet is increased, the intake of protein and fat will automatically decrease.

females 20—25%.

Since the percentage body fat as well as the BMI correlated positively with plasma total cholesterol and TAG and negatively with %HDL-C, it is advisable that the obese subjects who were also hypercholesterolaemic should lose weight. A high plasma TCD and low %HDL-C is associated with an increased risk for coronary heart disease (24). Twenty-three percent of the males and 20% of the females were hypercholesterolaemic (plasma TC> 240 mg x 1100 mFt). In order to decrease their plasma TC levels, these hypercholesterolaemic subjects should change their dietary intake to meet certain dietary guidelines recommended to decrease the risk for certain degenerative diseases such as coronary heart disease. These guidelines recommend that fat should not still within the range of 1.0—1.2. The females in our study were supply more than 30% of the total energy intake. LeSS than heavy due to a high body fat content and not solely because of 10% of the energy should be supplied by saturated fat and apextra muscle mass. It should therefore be more appropriate to proximately 10% of the energy should be supplied by polyunexpress protein needs in terms of g per kg ideal weight. It is dif- saturated fat. Cholesterol intake should not exceed 300 mg per

The athletes were studied over a one-year period in which their weight remained stable. However, 53 % of the females were obese. Since there is no scientific evidence that this extra body weight is of any benefit for performance, it is advisable that the obese athletes should reduce their energy intake in order to lose surplus body fat. It has been stated that a daily protein intake of 1.0—1.2 g per kg body weight is sufficient during hard training for an hour per day. For a power athlete increasing muscle bulk, protein requirements could be 1.3 to 1.6 g per kg body weight per day (5). The males in our study averaged 1.65 g per kg body weight per day. The protein intake per kg body weight for the females was, however, lower but

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FieldAthietes (n 30) Parameter

M. Faber, A.-.J. SpinnierBenadé, A. Daubitzer

in!. .1. Sports Med. 11(1990)

day (33). Neither the males nor the females reached these dietary guidelines. These guidelines are usually recommended for the total population. If the athletes increase their carbohydrate intake as suggested, their fat intake will decrease to close to 30% of total energy intake.

Eighteen percent of the males and 7% of the females had HDL-C levels below 35 mg/l00 ml. These unfavorable plasma lipid levels can be due to the use of anabolic steroids. Two males admitted taking steroids at the time of the

study. They both had a %HDL-C of below 10%. The three males admitting having taken anabolic steroids before had a %HDL-C of between 10% and 20%. It is of great concern that these athletes with an unfavorable plasma lipid profile indulge in a high fat, high cholesterol diet.

It can be concluded that a high percentage of the female athletes were obese. Percentage body fat correlated positively with plasma total cholesterol and LDL-C and nega-

tively with %HDL-C for males and females. Favourable effects on plasma lipid values could be expected if the obese athletes lost weight. We recommend that the athletes should increase their carbohydrate intake with a parallel decrease in fat intake. A lowering in fat and cholesterol intake could possibly reduce the plasma TC levels of the hypercholesterolaemic sub-

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Dietary intake, anthropometric measurements and plasma lipid levels in throwing field athletes.

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