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The Truth About Nutrition

Nutrition is often talked about in ways that make it appear as an always evolving monster. Every day we hear of new trends, new diets, and new foods to eat with plenty of foods to avoid and even fear. After a few weeks, the foods we were supposed to avoid become the new foods to eat. If you have ever felt confused by this and not sure what to believe, you are not alone.

My job as a Registered Dietitian is to be the nutrition expert and help people make sense of all the talk out there. I take this a step further as a specialist in sport nutrition and help athletes understand what keeps them healthy and how to improve performance.

"If you ask for my honest opinion about the trends and diets out there, my response is this: the majority is nonsense and more likely to decrease performance than anything."

Imagine an athlete signed up to run their first marathon but has never run in their life. Instead of training and running to condition, they buy ultra-comfortable running shoes, flashy running clothes and download all of the best fitness apps. On race day they have all of the gear everyone talks about but still has not run a single mile. How do you think they will perform?

To be a successful athlete in any sport, you have to practice the basics before any gear or apps begin to matter. In the case of our runner, the basics of running and conditioning were skipped in favor of flashy gear. The action of running and conditioning makes up 98% of the training needed while gear makes up only 2%. All the gear in the world will not help this athlete complete all 26.2 miles.

Nutrition works the exact same way. All of the flashy new trends and products in food are often the 2%, while the basics of nutrition and human physiology make up 98%. The athletes who focus on the 98% are the athletes who often achieve their goals and win. Those who focus on the 2% are usually left in the dust wondering what happened.

The foundation for nutrition performance is based on eating the essential nutrients of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and water. From there we focus on eating a balance of each nutrient that is dependent on our individual goals. After this we begin to maximize performance with fueling, hydration, recovery and growth. When combined this makes up the 98% in sport nutrition. Only after conquering each topic should the newest trend or superfoods begin to have a place in our thoughts.

Mastering the basics is simple, but not easy. The ideas and education is simple to understand but difficult to apply in our lives without some guidance. That’s where a sport dietitian can help you not only learn the information you need, but also how to apply it so that you are maximizing your performance every day.

After seeing the misinformation and always changing conversations about nutrition, many athletes come to me feeling frustrated and confused. There needed to be a resource where athletes can cut through the confusion and learn what their bodies need. I created a four part series that covers this foundation of nutrition for performance to help athletes be their best. We cover the topics mentioned here and many more to bring your performance to new heights.

The best advice I can give an athlete on nutrition is this: focus on the basics and understand the foundations of nutrition. Doing so will improve your performance and help you know what to believe when the newest diet trend changes.


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