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Background: The detrimental adaptations on body composition characterized by rapid loss in lean mass and accumulation of fat mass are associated with several non-communicable diseases similar to type II diabetes mellitus, dyslipidemia and cardiovascular diseases in persons with spinal cord injury (SCI). Accurately evaluating dietary intakes is an essential component in management of body composition adaptations following SCI. We have previously shown that 7 days of diary recalls is an accurate method of capturing weekly caloric intake and providing accurate estimates of macronutrients (% carbohydrate, % fat and % protein). Purpose: The purpose of this pilot work is to examine whether three days are equivalent to five days of dietary recalls and whether it is more efficient than one day of dietary recall in evaluating caloric intake and the percent of macronutrients in persons with SCI. Methods: Three persons with complete SCI were enrolled as a part of a federally funded study investigating the effects of exercise and testosterone on body composition and metabolic profile after SCI (http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01652040). Participants were asked to turn in a 5-day dietary recall on a weekly basis for 16 weeks. Data of the first 8 weeks were analyzed using the Nutrition Data System for Research (NDSR 2012) software. Basal metabolic rate was measured using indirect calorimeter and participants received feedback from the dietitian every 4 weeks. The averages of 5-day, 3-day and 1-day dietary recalls for caloric intake and percentage macronutrients (% carbohydrate, % fat and % protein) were calculated. Results: One-way ANOVA revealed that the caloric intake of 5-day dietary recalls (1231 ± 66 kcal/day) was not different from 3-day (1228 ± 119 kcal/day) or 1-day dietary (1217 ± 166 kcal/day) recalls over 8 weeks (P > 0.05). However, the 1-day dietary recall did not show the same pattern, especially during the first 4 weeks. Percentage macronutrients were not different among 5-day, 3-day or 1-day dietary recalls. Conclusions: Three-day dietary recalls provide an accurate estimate of caloric intake and macronutrients compared to 5-day dietary recalls. The results did not show a difference from a one-day dietary recall; the pattern, however, in caloric intake was clearly not similar to 3 or 5-day dietary recalls.
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