Purpose: The purpose of this pilot study was to examine dietary intake and supplement use of competitive powerlifters (PL) and Olympic lifters (OL). Descriptive data and differences between groups may provide insight for future investigations into related areas. Methods: Subjects were recruited at PL competitions and through local OL clubs. All subjects were male (median bodyweight 203 lbs; median height 69 in), between the ages of 18-59 yr (median age 24.5 yr), had competed in a sanctioned lifting competition within the past 12 mo, and had not used performance enhancing drugs for 5 yr. The National Cancer Institute’s Food Frequency Questionnaire was used to assess dietary intake, while supplement use for the previous year was determined by an alternate questionnaire. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the data. Mann Whitney U tests were used to examine differences in the dietary intake and the number of total supplements taken between PL and OL. Chi square tests were run to examine if there were significant associations between supplements taken and lifter type. Results: Twenty-five persons completed the questionnaires (14 PL, 11 OL). There were no significant differences in age, height, or weight between groups. There was a significant difference in the number of years PL and OL have been lifting (U=32.500, p=.043) with PL reporting lifting for a greater number of years (Med.=15 years) than OL (Med.=6.5 years). The only significant differences in dietary intake between groups were higher iron intake (U=-2.080, p=.037), starch intake (U=-2.080, p=.037), and fruit consumption (U=35.00, p=.04) among OL. There was no significant difference in the number of supplements taken between PL and OL (U=53.000, p=.574), with a median intake of 5 supplements. A greater proportion of PL reported taking arginine-containing supplements (X2=4.738, df=1, p=.030) and Beta-alanine (X2=4.738, df=1, p=.030) than OL. There were no other significant associations between supplement type taken and lifter type. Conclusions: Diets between PL and OL are similar, with a greater number of PL using supplements that may not be of significant benefit for aiding resistance training adaptation or performance. Practical Applications: The rationale for supplement choice should be investigated as use was frequent among both groups. PL may wish to curb intake of arginine-containing supplements and Beta-alanine considering the current state of evidence. The dietary data for non-drug using PL support that the reported increased risk of death for PL compared to a control population is most likely due to factors other than diet, such as anabolic steroid use.
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