Climber, coach and training expert Dave MacLeod is looking for participants for his latest University of Glasgow research study into dietary patterns of regular climbers over the age of 16. The online survey takes around 30 minutes and asks questions about climbing and eating habits. Dave is especially keen to receive more responses from female climbers, as their participation has been low so far.
Dave told UKC:
'I've been delighted with the response to my questionnaire so far and it has potential to be a really significant piece of data, so I'm keen to maximise this and would be extremely grateful if as many climbers would respond as possible.
'It's open to anyone who climbs regularly and is over 16 years old. We specify three sessions per week of either climbing, or any type of exercise/training which is geared towards your climbing. The responses so far have been mostly from male climbers and I'd really appreciate if more female climbers would be willing contribute their data. All the responses are completely anonymous and the form takes about 30 mins to complete. I'll discuss the results when they are published in due course.'
Dave also shared some background on the topic and his motivations for carrying out the study. He said:
'My study is assessing what climbers currently eat across a range of abilities and disciplines. I think it's important to have some data on where we currently are in order to be able to identify potential problems or ways for climbers and coaches to improve their diets for health and performance.'
Additionally, Dave hopes that his study will help us to understand disordered eating practices in climbing - an issue that's been talked about on and off in the climbing sphere for decades. He explained:
'There have always been well-known climbers who have come forward to talk about problems with eating in an effort to maintain a very low body weight or fat percentage. It's good that climbers have been discussing this more openly of late, but we don't have much real data on how prevalent it is. There have been a couple of small recent studies, but these have mainly been in sport climbers. I would really like to add a larger sample of data to get a clearer picture of the extent of the problem. In particular I think it would be good to know if participation in certain climbing disciplines or competitions has any relationship to disordered eating practices.'
In recent years, general studies into nutrition and opinions on what might be best suited to climbers have flooded the Internet and caused widespread discussion while often leading to confusion. Dave told UKC:
'Climbing is changing pretty fast and think its fair to say that we've transitioned from too little information to help us decide how to improve to having an overload of information and having to try to judge which is correct or applicable to us. Nutrition is no different and there is a wide spectrum of dietary patterns which all appear to be becoming more popular, such as vegan, vegetarian, paleo, keto etc. I'm interested how often these are actually adopted in reality.
'Finally, it's also really useful to know more details about climber's diets generally - how much protein we eat, carbs and fat and other aspects of our general nutrition habits.'