Ten Things You Need to Know About Sports Nutrition

Dan Benardot, PhD, DHC, RD, LD, FACSM 

  1. Look Beyond Weight When Determining Health It’s not your weight that matters, it’s what constitutes your weight. Find a way to learn if you have too little muscle or too much fat and find a strategy (exercise and eating well) that increases muscle and lowers fat. The number on the scale might stay the same, but you will look better, perform better and will be healthier.
  2. Building Muscle Takes More Than Just Protein Building muscle requires a combination of:
    • Added resistance to muscles
    • Staying in a good energy balanced state to encourage anabolic hormone production
    • Having a good distribution of nutrients to sustain tissue health
    • Adequate sleep
    • Consuming more protein in the right amounts and at the right times to encourage muscle protein synthesis
  3. Protein: It’s Not Just More, But When and How Much If you are an athlete, you need about double the protein as nonathletes, but just eating more protein isn’t enough. It must be consumed in the right amounts, at the right times and when in a reasonably good energy balanced state. Randomly eating more protein doesn’t accomplish what the body needs.
  4. Infrequent Meals Cause Problems Meal skipping, or eating in a pattern that fails to satisfy energy requirements in real time, creates many problems including higher body fat levels, lower lean mass and greater cardiometabolic risk factors. Interestingly, more frequent eating is associated with lower total caloric intake because of better ghrelin (appetite hormone) control.
  5. Eating Good Foods Helps the Microbiome Keep You Healthy Inadequate intake of fresh fruits and vegetables may alter the microbiome, resulting in higher body fat percentage and reduced athletic performance. Consuming plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables helps to sustain good bacterial colonies that live in the gut. Additional benefit: Fruits and vegetables give you the carbs you may lack for maximal performance.
  6. Good Food, Bad Food, Wrong Choice There is no perfect food, and if you keep eating the same food(s) because you believe it’s good for you, you place yourself at nutritional risk. There is no substitute for eating a wide variety of foods that are well-distributed throughout the day. You don’t get too much of anything potentially bad, and you expose tissues to all the nutrients they need.
  7. Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) can be a Problem The best exercise performance occurs when you have enough energy to support the exercise. If you frequently post-load by consuming the energy (calories) after the workout/competition, be aware of the potential health and performance consequences. You can’t drive your car on an empty tank of gas, and neither can you perform well if your tank is empty.
  8. Poor Hydration, Poor Performance Sustaining the best possible fluid balance is important for many reasons, including sustaining heart stroke volume, sustaining sweat rates, enabling delivery of nutrients to working cells and enhancing removal of metabolic waste products from cells.
  9. Recovery from Exercise is Just as Important as the Exercise Putting stress on muscles through exercise isn’t enough to reap the full health benefits. You must give muscles an opportunity to recover from the stress so that they can benefit from the exercise. Adequate sleep is important by helping to sustain appropriate eating behaviors and muscle recovery.
  10. It Is Important to Learn How to Lower Stress Stress levels impact eating behavior. High stress levels can lead to the consumption of energy-dense foods that are high in fat and sugar. Find a strategy for stress-reduction that can help you sustain optimal nutrition, which will positively influence both performance and health.

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A Season of Football Head Impacts Does Not Affect Balance

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There is considerable public concern about the effects of repetitive football head impacts on a player’s brain health. Many studies suggest a link between head impacts and poorer health. Safe and efficient walking and balance are critical for activities of daily living and can reflect a person’s overall health.

In this study, investigators evaluated 34 collegiate football players who wore head impact sensors and compared their walking and balance to 13 cheerleaders before and after a single season at two different colleges. Surprisingly, there was no worsening of walking or balance performance in the football players over the course of the season compared to their status before a season or compared to the cheerleaders. The helmet sensor data showed that these players, on average, were exposed to 538 impacts over the course of the competitive season. However, neither the number of impacts nor the force of the impacts had much influence on walking or balance performance measures in the athletes.

The conclusion of this study is that repetitive football head impacts did not affect walking or balance performance over a single season. The possible effects of these impacts over multiple seasons or in later life remain unknown.

For more information, view the abstract

American College of Sports Medicine

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Does Female Teen-Aged Development Change Hip and Knee Landing Biomechanics: Are there Implications for Knee Injury?

Knee injuries in adolescent females, including anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture, are increasing in frequency. One of the suspected causes is poor landing technique characterized by ‘knock-knee’ posture. Pubertal development is associated with rapid growth of the long bones and surrounding soft tissue and is thought to be an underlying contributor to poor knee and lower limb biomechanics. Yet, no previous studies have investigated the effects of female pubertal development stages on knee and hip biomechanics during a single-limb landing task.

In this study of 93 healthy and physically active girls, the investigators grouped subjects according to pre-pubertal, early/mid-pubertal and late/post-pubertal development stages. All girls had their hip and knee biomechanics recorded with three-dimensional (3-D) motion analysis and force-plate technology while they completed a single-limb landing task. This experimental task was designed to mimic the mechanism of traumatic sporting knee injuries. Girls at latter stages of puberty were heavier, taller and landed with higher 3-D knee forces in comparison to girls at earlier stages of development.

These findings indicate that pubertal-related growth may contribute to higher rates of female adolescent knee injury.

For more information, view the abstract

American College of Sports Medicine

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Using Wearable Trackers to Re-examine Health Implications of Physical Activity Patterns Among Weekend Warriors

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The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend at least 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity per week, yet little guidance is given as to how best achieve this amount of weekly activity. Do those who participate in activity most days of the week have similar mortality benefits to those who only exercise on a few days?

In this population-based study of 3,438 adults over age 40, investigators used physical activity trackers, worn for a week, to classify individuals who did their weekly activity only one-two days per week (Weekend Warriors). The compared mortality rates for those Weekend Warriors over a period of about six years against rates for similar individuals who did their activity more frequently each week.

Both the Weekend Warriors and the more frequently active participants had similarly lower mortality rates than individuals in this large study group who were more sedentary – even after results were adjusted for overall activity per week. Physical activity was related to decreased mortality rate, even among those who were active only one or two days per week.

For more information, view the abstract

American College of Sports Medicine

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Are Minimalist Shoes Effective for Strengthening Foot Muscles in Runners?

Image result for minimalist shoes running

As the main point of contact with the ground, the foot plays a vital role in how humans move. The complex structure of the foot includes 26 bones, more than 20 muscles, many ligaments and various types of soft tissue. These features allow the foot to provide rigid support or flexibility, depending on the situation. Weakness of the basic foot muscles (those small muscles located solely within the foot that do not cross the ankle joint) has been associated with a variety of foot injuries. Strengthening these muscles may help prevent injuries.

In this research, the investigators measured the effects of walking in minimalist footwear or performing specific foot strengthening exercises on the size and strength of some of these basic foot muscles. A total of 57 runners participated over a period of eight weeks in one of these randomly assigned conditions: minimalist shoe walking, foot muscle strengthening or a control situation. Serial measurements of foot muscle strength and size were made during the study.

The research showed that walking in minimalist shoes results in strength gains and muscle size increases; the same was found in the group that performed the foot exercises. While minimalist shoes have mostly been associated with running, the general public and/or people who suffer from a variety of painful foot conditions may benefit from walking in minimalist shoes.

For more information, view the abstract

American College of Sports Medicine

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Ten Things You Need to Know About Sports Nutrition

Image result for sports nutrition

  1. Look Beyond Weight When Determining Health It’s not your weight that matters, it’s what constitutes your weight. Find a way to learn if you have too little muscle or too much fat and find a strategy (exercise and eating well) that increases muscle and lowers fat. The number on the scale might stay the same, but you will look better, perform better and will be healthier.
  2. Building Muscle Takes More Than Just Protein Building muscle requires a combination of:
    • Added resistance to muscles
    • Staying in a good energy balanced state to encourage anabolic hormone production
    • Having a good distribution of nutrients to sustain tissue health
    • Adequate sleep
    • Consuming more protein in the right amounts and at the right times to encourage muscle protein synthesis
  3. Protein: It’s Not Just More, But When and How Much If you are an athlete, you need about double the protein as non-athletes, but just eating more protein isn’t enough. It must be consumed in the right amounts, at the right times and when in a reasonably good energy balanced state. Randomly eating more protein doesn’t accomplish what the body needs.
  4. Infrequent Meals Cause Problems Meal skipping, or eating in a pattern that fails to satisfy energy requirements in real time, creates many problems including higher body fat levels, lower lean mass and greater cardiometabolic risk factors. Interestingly, more frequent eating is associated with lower total caloric intake because of better ghrelin (appetite hormone) control.
  5. Eating Good Foods Helps the Microbiome Keep You Healthy Inadequate intake of fresh fruits and vegetables may alter the microbiome, resulting in higher body fat percentage and reduced athletic performance. Consuming plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables helps to sustain good bacterial colonies that live in the gut. Additional benefit: Fruits and vegetables give you the carbs you may lack for maximal performance.
  6. Good Food, Bad Food, Wrong Choice There is no perfect food, and if you keep eating the same food(s) because you believe it’s good for you, you place yourself at nutritional risk. There is no substitute for eating a wide variety of foods that are well-distributed throughout the day. You don’t get too much of anything potentially bad, and you expose tissues to all the nutrients they need.
  7. Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) can be a Problem The best exercise performance occurs when you have enough energy to support the exercise. If you frequently post-load by consuming the energy (calories) after the workout/competition, be aware of the potential health and performance consequences. You can’t drive your car on an empty tank of gas, and neither can you perform well if your tank is empty.
  8. Poor Hydration, Poor Performance Sustaining the best possible fluid balance is important for many reasons, including sustaining heart stroke volume, sustaining sweat rates, enabling delivery of nutrients to working cells and enhancing removal of metabolic waste products from cells.
  9. Recovery from Exercise is Just as Important as the Exercise Putting stress on muscles through exercise isn’t enough to reap the full health benefits. You must give muscles an opportunity to recover from the stress so that they can benefit from the exercise. Adequate sleep is important by helping to sustain appropriate eating behaviors and muscle recovery.
  10. It Is Important to Learn How to Lower Stress Stress levels impact eating behavior. High stress levels can lead to the consumption of energy-dense foods that are high in fat and sugar. Find a strategy for stress-reduction that can help you sustain optimal nutrition, which will positively influence both performance and health.

By Dan Benardot, PhD, DHC, RD, LD, FACSM, Professor Emeritus at Georgia State University, and Visiting Professor in the Center for the Study of Human Health at Emory University. He is the author of the new title ACSM’s Nutrition for Exercise Science. For more information about the book and to download an excerpt, visit https://www.acsm.org/read-research/books/acsms-nutrition-exercise-science.

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