Examining dietary behaviours, diet quality, motives and supplementation use in physically active individuals following vegetarian-based eating patterns
The adoption of vegetarian-based dietary patterns among athletes has been gaining popularity. However, limited research examines the dietary behaviours within this group. Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine self-reported dietary behaviours in a cohort of physically active individuals following vegetarian-based dietary patterns, recruited via social media. A 52-item online survey was created with questions related to demographics, physical activity, eating patterns and supplementation use. An external link to the Australian Automated Self-Administered 24-h (ASA24-AU) recall was included to examine nutrient intakes. Dietary quality was assessed using the Alternate Healthy Eating Index-2010 (AHEI-2010) and the Dietary Phytochemical Index (DPI) tools. A total of 781 (84.8%) respondents completed the survey in 2018. Principal motives for adhering to a vegetarian-based dietary pattern included animal rights (86.5%), environmental concerns (75.4%), health reasons (69.6%) and improving physical performance (24.1%). Vitamin B12 was the most commonly reported supplement (58.1%) followed by protein powder (36.3%) and vitamin D (35.9%). A total of 133 respondents completed the ASA24-AU dietary recall with generally adequate nutrient intakes and a high-quality diet as assessed by the AHEI-2010 and DPI. A significant minority of physically active individuals following vegetarian-based diets do so with the aspiration of improving their exercise performance. Dietary quality was considered high in this group for recreational physical activity, although intakes of vitamin B12 and LC n-3 PUFA were low.
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