It is important for athletes to make sound food choices as optimal dietary intake is known to enhance sport performance. However, little is known about the factors important to athletes when making decisions about what to eat. Food choice and eating behaviours are a complex area to understand and research demonstrates there are many reasons behind individual food choice decisions. Using a quantitative research design this study explored nutrition knowledge, eating behaviours and factors important in the food choices of a sample of recreational triathletes (n = 164, males = 94, females = 70) compared to an age-matched group not currently participating in triathlon (n = 134, males = 58, females = 76) that included both active and non-active individuals. Three validated questionnaires were administered via the internet, including the General Nutrition Knowledge Questionnaire (GNKQ), an adapted version of the Food Choice Questionnaire (FCQ) and the rigid (RC) and flexible (FC) control subscales of the Three Factor Eating Questionnaire (TFEQ). The GNKQ assessed four areas including knowledge of dietary guidelines, food sources of key nutrients, skill in choosing healthy foods and the relationship between diet and disease. The FCQ measured the importance of 13 factors in food choice decisions and the RC and FC subscales measured two types of dietary restraint.
Submitted in the fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Masters of Sports Nutrition by Research, University of the Sunshine Coast, 2014.