The Internet offers an amazing array of sports nutrition information, but it also contributes to great confusion. Many athletes complain to me about information overload. They have no idea whom to believe and how to determine which websites offer reputable advice.
No wonder: if you Google "credible sports nutrition information," the search results will list over four million links!
If you are like most sports parents, you simply want to know how to find valid information that tells you what and when to feed your young athlete so they can perform at their best. Here's a list of websites, books, and key resources to help you fuel wisely, eat healthfully, and feel confident with your food choices.
Some excellent Internet resources include:
- www.PowerBar.com/nutrition-in-training and www.gssiweb.org. Both PowerBar and The Gatorade Sports Science Institute offer excellent sports nutrition articles written by leading sports scientists. Educational, not just promotional!
- www.ausport.gov.au/ais/nutrition. The Australian Institute for Sport has abundant sports nutrition fact sheets as well as information on supplements and body size/shape.
- www.MomsTeam.com/nutrition. Information for parents of youth athletes
- www.whfoods.org. The World's Healthiest Foods website is packed with information about the healthiest ways of eating and cooking. (Check out "What happens when I eat a bowl of cereal?" to see animated digestion in action!)
- www.nationaleatingdisorders.org This website offers extensive resources for people who struggle with food, weight, and body image issues, as well as offers support for loved ones.
For monthly mailed newsletters that offer detailed yet easy to read coverage of current nutrition, wellness and fitness concerns, check out:
- Tufts Health & Nutrition Newsletter (tuftshealthletter.com; $24)
- Berkeley Wellness Letter (www.wellnessletter.com; $24).
- Nutrition Action Healthletter by the Center for Science in the Public Interest. CSPI challenges the food industry to clean up their act! (www.CSPInet.org; $20)
While few of today's sports parents have the time to sit down and read a book, you can certainly benefit from using well-indexed books as a resource. Some titles I recommend:
General nutrition books:
- The American Dietetic Association's Complete Food & Nutrition Guide by Roberta Duyff RD
- The Best Things You Can Eat by David Grotto RD
- Cooking Light. The Food Lover's Healthy Habits Cookbook with Janet Helm RD
- Secrets of Feeding a Healthy Family: Orchestrating and Enjoying the Family Meal by Ellyn Satter.
Sports nutrition books
And now for some shameless self-promotion:
- Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook, new 5th edition.
Having sold over 550,000 copies, this easy-to-read resource is considered by many athletes to be their "nutrition bible." It's comprehensive yet enjoyable-and even has recipes.
You might also enjoy my sport-specific books that make useful gifts for friends, family and teammates:
- Food Guide for Marathoners: Tips for Everyday Champions
- Food Guide for New Runners: Getting It Right From the Start
- Food Guide for Soccer: Tips and Recipes from the Pros
- The Cyclist's Food Guide: Fueling for the Distance.
Other excellent sports nutrition books include:
- Endurance Sports Nutrition, new 3rd Edition by Suzanne Gerard Eberle RD
- Power Eating, new 4th edition, by Susan Kleiner RD
- Vegetarian Sports Nutrition by Enette Larson-Meyer RD.
- Diabetic Athlete's Handbook by Sherri Colberg
- The Athlete's Guide to Sports Supplements by Kimberly Mueller RD and Josh Hingst
Books on weight issues, dieting, eating disorders
An estimated 30 to 60% of female athletes (as well as a smaller number of males) struggle with balancing food, weight, and exercise. If you or someone you know struggles with disordered eating patterns, let them know they are not alone and can benefit from these self-help books.
- 8 Keys to Recovery From an Eating Disorder by Carolyn Costin
- The Don't Diet, Live-It! Workbook: Healing Food, Weight and Body Issues by A. LoBue and M. Marcus.
- Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works by E. Tribole RD and E. Resch RD.
- The Exercise Balance: What's Too Much, Too Little, Just Right by P. Powers. and R. Thompson.
- Making Weight: Healing Men's Conflicts with Food, Weight, Shape & Appearance by A. Anderson, L. Cohn & T. Holbrook
- Body image: Body Image Workbook: An 8-Step Program for Learning to Like Your Looks by T. Cash.
- Food and Feelings Workbook: A Full Course Meal on Emotional Health by K. Koenig.
- Surviving an Eating Disorder: Perspectives and Strategies for Family & Friends by M. Siegel et al.
- Your Overweight Child: Helping Without Harming by E. Satter
Primarily for Professionals
While most professional journals offer "heavy" reading, one exception is the International Journal of Sport Nutrition & Exercise Metabolism. While it is far from "light" reading, you'll learn the latest research on carbohydrates, protein, sports supplements, fueling practices, plus more. (http://journals.humankinetics.com; $11/year).
No website or book can compare with sitting down and talking with a sports dietitian in person. A one-on-one, personalized approach is best to learn what, when, and how to eat to fuel your child's unique body for top performance. To find a local sports dietitian, enter your zip code into the referral networks at www.SCANdpg.org or www.eatright.org. You may be surprised to learn how much you don't know. (After all, you don't know what you don't know!)
Nancy Clark, MS, RD counsels both casual and competitive athletes, teaching them how to create a winning sports diet. Her private practice is in the Boston-area (Newton, MA; 617-795-1875). For information about her books and workshops, see www.nancyclarkrd.com and www.sportsnutritionworkshop.com.