Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Nutrition


Food Science and Nutrition


College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences


Scott K. Reaves

Advisor Department

Food Science and Nutrition

Advisor College

College of Agriculture, Food, and Environmental Sciences


Dietary protein is required to support recovery and adaptation following exercise training. While prior research demonstrates that many athletes meet total daily protein needs, intake seems to be predominantly skewed toward the evening meal. An even distribution of protein doses throughout the course of a day is theorized to confer greater skeletal muscle anabolism compared to a skewed pattern of intake. Protein quality is also an important dietary consideration for athletes, with the amino acid leucine being the primary driver of the postprandial anabolic response. The present thesis investigates the protein consumption characteristics among a selected cohort of NCAA Division 1 collegiate soccer players and evaluates differences between male and female athletes. Athletes were instructed to complete 3-day food diaries, which were subsequently analyzed and compared to nutrition guidelines for soccer players. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner explained 81.4% of total daily dietary protein intake. Most athletes (77.8%) ingested optimum amounts of protein at dinner, but not at breakfast (11.1%) or lunch (47.2%). In addition, statistically significant sex-based differences in daily dietary protein intake, meal-specific protein amounts, and protein quality measures were detected. Findings indicate suboptimal dietary protein intake practices among the collegiate athletes.

Available for download on Friday, December 05, 2025

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