Nutrition Condition

I have always been a top-level athlete, but was never World Champion material until I got serious about my nutrition.

—Kristin Armstrong, World Champion cyclist and Olympic Gold Medalist, road cycling

Athletes often make the mistake of either taking for granted that their talent will be enough and not realizing the importance of proper nutrition or becoming fanatical about their nutrition to a point that it becomes a burden.

—Michael Johnson, five-time Olympic gold medalist; nine-time world champion in the 200-, 400-, and 4 x 400-meter relay, dubbed "world's fastest man"

Sooner or later athletes realize it's not how hard you train, it's about how you adapt to training, and that largely depends on nutrition.

—Jeremiah Bishop, professional mountain biker

"We all know the saying "you are what you eat." it's not entirely correct, but we do know that what you eat can make you a better athlete.

We wrote this book to provide readers with the most current, science-based sports nutrition information and tools to help you eat and drink for optimal performance. As registered dietitians certified in sports dietetics, we hear and see firsthand how much sports nutrition misinformation there is on the Internet, in magazines, and being touted by athletes and coaches themselves. After talking to hundreds of athletes—from weekend warriors to world champs—we knew that many athletes would benefit from a book like this.

Success in sports is determined primarily by your genetic potential and training. However, the most genetically gifted athletes may not be the best because they may have poor conditioning, while athletes with less natural talent—but with good training—may become the world's best in their sport. When you get the combination of great genes and top training, you get a sports phenom. Think of Roger Federer, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, and Lance Armstrong. All are genetically gifted and have or had some of the most dedicated training programs of athletes ever in their respective sports.

Most athletes never come close to reaching their true potential because their training is suboptimal due to fatigue, recurring injuries, or lack of time, commitment, or motivation. That's where optimal sports nutrition can help. Sports nutrition strategies that provide the right amount of energy and nutrients to facilitate training, recovery, and in-competition fueling can help make up the difference between winning and losing.

Chances are that you probably have your training program under control, probably even have a coach you work with individually or with a team. However, we find that most athletes don't have a "nutrition coach" or hire a sports dietitian for consulting. And, unfortunately, there aren't very many people who are truly qualified to provide evidence-based sports nutrition information. All too often, athletes tell us, "My coach recommended it," or "I know my competition is on this," or "I read about it in a magazine."

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR NUTRITION INFORMATION?

According to a 2008 survey commissioned by the American Dietetic Association, Americans said that their main sources for nutrition information included: 63% TV 45% magazines 24% Internet 19% newspapers Energy-to-burn nutritionism: Eighty percent of individuals surfing the Web for nutrition information used .com sites and only 20 percent were logging onto more unbiased .gov or .org sites, according to the 2005 survey.

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