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Female Soccer Players Perform Best On A High-Fat Diet, UB Study Finds

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Female soccer players were able to perform longer at a higher intensity on a diet composed of 35 percent fat than on diets of 27 percent fat or 24 percent fat, researchers at the University at Buffalo have found.

The higher-fat diet, achieved by adding peanuts to the athletes' normal diet, had no effect on weight, percentage of body fat, heart rate or blood pressure, findings showed.

Peter J. Horvath, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, Exercise and Nutrition Sciences in UB's School of Health Related Professions, presented the study here today (April 19, 1999) at the annual meeting of the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology.

"The women went 1.2 to 1.5 kilometers farther before reaching exhaustion while doing very-high-speed intermittent exercise when on the high-fat diet, compared to the lower-fat diets," said Horvath. "That is really a striking difference.

"Women are better fat metabolizers than men. Our earlier dietary studies with male and female competitive runners showed that while both improved their performance on a higher-fat diet, women benefited more than men. One implication of these findings is that dietary recommendations for women athletes should be different from men's," he said.

The study involved nine female collegiate soccer players who ate three diets in a randomized crossover design -- their normal diet, normal diet plus 415 calories of oil-roasted peanuts per day, or normal diet plus an equal amount of extra calories from carbohydrate-rich energy bars. The women consumed each diet for seven days during the luteal phase (the second half) of the menstrual cycle, when a woman's ability to metabolize fat is greatest, Horvath said.

Carbohydrate intake was highest -- 63 percent of total calories -- during the energy-bar diet, and lowest -- 51 percent -- during the peanut diet. Fat was highe
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Contact: Lois Baker
ljbaker@buffalo.edu
716-645-2626
University at Buffalo
19-Apr-1999


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