The study collected data from a total number of 51 bodybuilding athletes implying a response rate of 78%. The mean age of the athletes was 23.6(±3.2) years. These findings are comparable to those reported by Monteiro and colleagues7. In their study, a sample of 33 athletes was studied. Additionally, Gaines (2001) found a total sample of 37 while comparing the anthropometry of competitive bodybuilders to judge’s score8. However, Ogita, 2010 and Trabelsi et al., 2012 obtained fewer (27 or less) participants during their investigations9,10. Even lower samples (n=≤18) of athletes were used by Lenzi et al. (2019); Mitchel et al. (2017) and Trabelsi et al. (2012) during the investigations of bodybuilders’ body composition and anthropometry2,11,10. Similar to these bodybuilding studies, the researcher in the current study obtained smaller samples. This could suggest that bodybuilding sport has not yet gained sufficient popularity, especially among women, around Polokwane Municipality. Also, given the nature of this sport, it is suspected that there could be less interest for participation by individuals around the Municipality.
In the current study, almost all (94.1%) of the athletes were males. Again, these results are divergent to those by Monteiro and colleagues (2012) who in their study had a fair gender distribution of 54.5% and 45.5% for men and women bodybuilders’ respectively12. However, in a study by Gaines (2001) majority were males (78.3%) than their counterparts (21.6%) females8. It is, therefore, not uncommon for bodybuilding sport to be predominated by males around the Polokwane municipality.
A two-thirds majority of the athletes (66.8%) in the current study participated in bodybuilding sport for a period of 6 months to 2 years; the majority of whom (86.3%) trained for an hour or more, 2 – 3 times per week. The duration spend during training influences the fatty acids and carbohydrates oxidation13. Furthermore, in the review article by Barakat et al. (2020), it is emphasised that the extent of muscle gain and fat loss among individuals may be influenced by several things, among others, the training status, exercise interventions, and the individual’s body composition status at baseline14.
Nutrition information sources
The most commonly used nutritional information sources by athletes in the current study were coaches (37.3%), followed by both social media (29.4%) and teammates (29.3%). Of those who used social media, more than two-third relied on internet search while the rest used Facebook. In all the studied gyms, coaches offered bodybuilding sports training guidance, possibly making athletes count on them for nutritional guide and/or recommendations. The latter is factual for a study conducted among bodybuilding athletes on strategies during different competitive cycles. In the very previous study, >60% of the athletes used the self-management approach, coaches, and websites as their strategies for obtaining nutrition information11. In another study in Ahwaz (Iran) by Jazayeri and Amani (2004), almost half (47%) of the trainers/coaches were reported to prescribe diet programs for the bodybuilding athletes. The majority (65.6%) of these coaches studied by Jazayeri and Amani (2004), recognised protein and carbohydrates as the two most essential nutrients required for bodybuilding sports other than minerals and water15. Additionally, Mitchel et al. (2017) reported website media, fellow teammates, and coaches as the most commonly used sources for nutritional information by the athletes11. Relying on nutritional information sources such as coaches and/or social media may at times offer inconsistent or deviating evidence-based practices2 posing a threat to the health outcomes of athletes, sooner or later in life. For instance, in a study by Masoga et al. (2019), bodybuilding athletes around the Polokwane municipality were reported to consume macronutrients suboptimally6. The current researcher postulate that the nutrition information source used by the majority of these athletes in the latter study misguided them towards nutritionally unreliable standards.