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A study conducted by Burns et al. (2004) Student Athlete Use of Nutritional Supplements and the Role of Athletic Trainers and Dietitians in Nutrition Counseling found that ~41% of athletes received nutrition information from their coaches, which often lead to a decline in players’ performance due to limited nutrition exposure by the coaches. Other factors include:

  • Food Lobbying
  • Unreliable Sources
  • Availability of Quality Foods

Essentially, the athletes don’t get the necessary fuel from their diets to refuel the batteries. This lack of energy results in a decrease in performance and an elevated risk for injuries.

Limited Nutrition Exposure in Schools

Generally, it doesn’t matter what level of education the coach possess, GED/High School Diploma or PhD, the core curriculum in schools and universities often doesn’t include any nutrition courses, unless the coach majored in Exercise Science (or related field of study). Therefore, finding the right coach, including the coach ’s level of education, can have significant implications on the coach’s overall expertise.

Same holds true for coaches who are certified by the national tennis teaching associations. Because nutrition isn’t part of the curriculum during the certification process, many coaches know little or nothing about nutrition.

Another option is to walk into the local book store or order a sports nutrition book online, such as:

Either way you slice it, coaches must have the desire to learn about nutrition.

Food Lobbying: Food Giants vs. You

Most people receive nutrition information through infomercials on TV. The problem is that companies try to make profits and hence will give out information that encourages one to purchase their product regardless if the product is “good” or not. Remember, the company’s goal is to sell food that tastes good, which generally is not the “best” food since “good taste” often comes from added sugars, fats, or oils. The objective must be to consume foods that supply the body with quality ingredients but quality ingredients often cost more money.

Example:

If you order a Big Mac Meal at McDonald’s you get fries, burger, and a big soda for ~$5. McDonald’s needs to make a profit from the $5 hence let’s assume that McDonald’s pays $3 for the Big Mac Meal they sell. In other words, you are eating food that costs $3. Do you believe that you get good quality for $3?

Generally speaking, one can follow the 60-30-10 formula when it comes to nutrition information/food infomercials:

  • 60% of the information are completely false
  • 30% has a little bit of truth to it
  • 10% is actually the truth

Unreliable Sources

The world of nutrition changes rapidly depending on new insights gained from scientific experiments. Unfortunately many sources, especially on the internet make claims that are not based on scientific evidence.

Example:

Don Lemmon introduces himself as “the #1 Online Nutritionist”. He claims on his website that his proprietary blend contains 30 different amino acids.

  1. First of all, what significance does the statement “I’m the #1 Online Nutritionist” have? None whatsoever; it doesn’t reveal any significant competency.
  2. Another problem is, there are no 30 amino acids known to mankind, as of today “only” 20. So, unless he has discovered 10 new amino acids that other leading scientists are unaware off, one can assume that his claim is imaginary.

Fast Food

Many talented athletes don’t plan when and what they are going to eat during the course of the day. Therefore, when they feel hungry they need to find food right away and convenience often becomes the decisive factor. What is more convenient than fast food restaurants? Any exit on US highways offers at least one fast food restaurant and you don’t even need to leave your car to eat. Fast food is also the cheapest food one can buy and it is heavily advertised– most commercial breaks feature an advertisement for fast food.

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