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What is Sports Nutrition?
Good question!!!! The term “Sports Nutrition” is social misnomer, because it implies a special kind of nutrition only for people who play sports. Granted, anyone engaged in sport is a candidate for such a reference but ‘sports’ in this context is generic and much broader in its definition.
It’s much like how many of us refer to natural health products (NHPs) or dietary supplements as “vitamins”. For example, “Johnny, have you taken your vitamins today?”
Technically speaking, minerals & amino acids are not vitamins, neither are gingko or grape seed extract, but for ease of reference and understanding, the term “vitamin” is commonly used as a general label.
The same is also true regarding Sports Nutrition. It encompasses an extremely wide range of potential candidates, including athletes, weekend warriors, gym rats, fitness buffs, diehard aerobic queens and sport fanatics. It includes anyone engaged in physical activity. In fact, if you train and eat food, you’re engaged in sports nutrition. The Koran refers to life itself as a Sport, so viewed in this context, everyone’s a candidate by default.
Sports Nutrition product suppliers often create advertising strategies designed to reach a very specific and narrow range of audience, such as cyclists, skiers or bodybuilders. Performance benefits attract athletes and anything to do with muscle or ‘weight loss’ creates interest. So the perceived specificity of the term can also be very useful from a marketing point of view, but remember, sports nutrition is not just for people who play hockey, football or soccer.
If you look up “sport” in Webster’s New World dictionary, it’s first defined as “any activity or experience that provides enjoyment or recreation” and then goes on to include activity by way of bodily exertion. It also mentions both fun & play as vital components.
Sport is a derivative of Middle English ‘sporte’, which is short for ‘disporte’, and is translated from Old French ‘desport’, meaning pleasure, and from desporter, meaning to divert. Historically speaking, Sport was viewed as a non-essential form of pleasure utilized by men & women to distract them from the hardships and serious side of life. It provided entertainment and created a physical means of enjoyment to help people cope with the burden of living. Today however, watching and playing sport has become a national pastime for millions of people of all ages. It is also a huge business that involves government and some of the world’s largest corporations.
Sports Nutrition is an art and a science. The ART consists of nourishing an active body with high quality food and natural health products in a skillful, safe and consistent manner. This pertains not only to what we eat, but also when, where and how. Whole food and NHPs are administered with reference to dozens of variables including (but not limited to):
- food quality & quantity | macronutrient percentage | micronutrient density | glycemic index | biological value
- fatty acid ratio | enzyme activity | biochemical individuality | chronotype | somatotype | blood type | hydration
- athletic objectives | lifestyle | training volume, intensity & frequency | specificity of sport | body composition
- injury status | metabolic status | medication & OTC | sport type | functional type | metabolic type | hormonal profile
- blood chemistry profile | hair analysis profile | acid/alkaline balance | ethnic origin | current health status
The SCIENCE of sports nutrition helps all of us to understand the “how” and the “why”. Through observation, research and repeated experiment, experts in the field investigate the effect of controlled exercise, food and natural health products on the health, recovery and performance of athletes. To be successful in the world of sport, fitness and health, and to remain well and injury free, one must apply the art as a derivative of sound science. This is the essence of the natural health food & fitness movement. Both are inseparably and equally essential.
Sports Nutrition recognizes textbook nutrient deficiencies, but also explores the possibility of utilizing whole food and natural health products such as creatine or glutamine to obtain higher levels of performance and quality of living.
Sports Nutrition is for anyone who is ultimately concerned about health and fitness and their ability to perform with excellence in life!
From a biological point of view, the Chi Prime Directive and function of nutrition is to supply a living organism with the energy and micronutrients it requires for nourishment, optimum function and maintenance of life. Taste, texture and culinary pleasure are secondary to provision of such nutrients in relation to biological demand. The function of food is to sustain life (not simply to gratify sensory pleasure).
"No matter what one’s fitness or exercise goals, good nutrition can help improve exercise performance, decrease recovery time from strenuous exercise, prevent exercise injuries due to fatigue, provide the fuel required during times of high-intensity training and control weight. Combining good nutrition with exercise can also help reduce the risk of numerous chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, obesity, osteoporosis, and some cancer; moreover, physicians often recommend nutrition and exercise to treat individuals who already have these diseases. Learning how nutrition and exercise work together for optimal health is essential for health, nutrition, or fitness professionals who must teach the public how to maintain good health and reduce risks of chronic disease".
Sport Nutrition for Health and Performance (2009)
Melinda Manore PhD, RD, FACSM & Janice Thompson, PhD, FACSM
"As scientific fields go, sports nutrition is still in its infancy. In spite of this, enough has been learned over the past twenty-five years to confirm that sports nutrition is, indeed, a science, and this requires that established rules of scientific evidence be applied to the collection and distribution of information."
Avery’s Sports Nutrition Almanac (1999)
Edmund Burke PhD & Daniel Gastelu MS
Avery Publishing Group
"The science of sports nutrition consists of designing your individual nutrition, training, and lifestyle, so that your body can retain and use sufficient of the beneficial chemicals, and avoid or expel the detrimental. The first step is to realize that you and your environment are one single interacting system of chemistry."
Sports Nutrition Guide: Minerals, Vitamins & Antioxidants for Athletes (2002)
Dr. Michael Colgan
Sports nutrition is the salvation of the world. Why? Because sports nutrition incorporates exercise AND optimum nutrition, and without both, it is IMPOSSIBLE to achieve wellness, remedy obesity and prevent degenerative disease. This is scientific fact! Sports nutrition is not a trend. It is nourishment for life…and the antidote for the poison of refined food and physical inactivity. At the centre of its core lies the discipline of training surrounded by the science of nutrition.
As always, stay well and live free!...Dr.C