Introduction: A varied and well balanced diet is an important factor in maintaining health and optimization of the exercise capacity of athletes. The nutritional behaviors of players depend on various factors, including their sports level.
Aim: Evaluation of nutritional behaviors of athletes playing volleyball, depending on the nature of practicing sports (recreational vs. competitive).
The material and methods: The research was carried out in a group of 200 volleyball players (100 professionals and 100 amateurs) using the proprietary dietary behavior questionnaire. Statistical analyzes were performed using the Chi-square independence test from the PQStat ver. 1.6 package.
Results: The volleyball players strictly implemented the recommendations regarding eating at least 3 meals a day (95.5%), including cereal products in each main meal (83.0%) and preferring mineral water for rehydration (82.0%). In the smallest percentage, volleyball players declared daily consumption of at least 2 servings of milk and/or the dairy products (36.5%) plus 2–3 servings of vegetables (26.0%), as well as limiting the consumption of animal fats (26.5%). Assessment of nutritional behaviors depending on the sports level showed that the competitive volleyball players in a significantly higher percentage declared regular meals (p < 0.01) and the consumption of the most caloric meal after training (p < 0.01). In addition, competitive athletes significantly more often properly rehydrated themselves during their training sessions (p < 0.01), they included carbohydrate products in each meal (p < 0.01) and limited the consumption of sugary and salty snacks (p < 0.01), fast food products (p < 0.01) and energy drinks (p < 0.05). In fact, they also consumed 1–2 portions of fruit (p < 0.05) and 2–3 portions of vegetables (p < 0.01) and vegetable fats
(p < 0.01) more often every day. In turn, amateur volleyball players in a significantly higher percentage preferred mineral water and other unsweetened drinks for rehydration (p < 0.01).
Conclusions: The role of practicing sport (competitive vs. amateur) has been demonstrated in relation to some of the nutritional behaviors of athletes practicing volleyball.