The effect of egg consumption on inflammatory markers, psychological measures, dietary intake and quality, and body composition in NCAA division I female collegiate gymnasts
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Aesthetic sports, like gymnastics, requires attention to post-exercise recovery methods to attenuate repetitive overuse of the joints during high-intensity training. Essential nutrients are often supplemented in a condensed fashion through the use of post-workout sports drinks and bars. An increased interest in whole food consumption post-exercise has been seen as these promoted products are often high in added sugars and fat, which has increased the interest of whole food consumption post-exercise. Eggs are known as the standard reference protein containing all the essential amino acids and have been investigated in several population groups. Further, research is lacking in the collegiate athlete population. This study examined the effects of whole egg consumption on markers of inflammation, psychological measures, dietary intake and quality, and body composition post-exercise in division I collegiate female gymnasts. Collegiate female gymnasts (n=11), ages 18-22 years old, were recruited for voluntary participation in the study. Participants were quasi-randomly assigned to consume two boiled eggs post-exercise or to continue their normal dietary intake (while limiting egg consumption; control) from August to April (pre-season to post-season). In August, December, and April, dietary intake, diet quality and anthropometric measures were completed. Biochemical indices, including a blood lipid panel, complete blood count (CBC) with differential, and inflammatory markers were measured at the same time points with an additional measure in October. SPSS (v25) and SAS (v9.4) were used for statistical analyses. Following this nutritional intervention, there were no significant changes in CRP and IL-6 but sIL-6R significantly decreased in the no egg group from September to October. Further, results demonstrated a significant relationship between sIL-6R and poor sleep quality during this same time point in both groups. From August to April, dietary energy, carbohydrates and fat were significantly reduced in egg group participants. Among anthropometric measures, body fat percentage saw a reduction from August to December. In conclusion, results from this pilot study were suggestive that there may be a relationship between post-exercise whole egg consumption and improvements in inflammation, psychological measures, anthropometrics, and diet quality. However, due to the small sample size and variability in the data, additional research is needed to confirm or refute the study’s findings.