Sports Science

The Science Behind Sports Nutrition: Fueling the Champion Within

Sports nutrition is a complex field. It requires a solid understanding of biochemistry and metabolism, as well as knowledge of the sport in which the athlete is participating. In addition to these core competencies, sports nutritionists must also have a deep understanding of how food is utilized by their clients in order to maximize performance and facilitate the optimal use of ergogenic aids. Today’s athletes are demanding more than just the basic academic fundamentals from their sports nutritionists. They expect us to understand their sport and how food plays a role in fuel utilization, mechanics of movement, as well as psychological processes that motivate them to push themselves to the limit both during practice and competition.

To accomplish these goals, sports nutritionists need to be able to identify the best nutrient strategies for their athletes to maximize their training and racing potential. This is only possible if they have an in-depth and complete understanding of the research literature. To accomplish this, science mapping is a powerful tool that allows for the exploration of the structural-thematical structure, trends and dynamism in the literature. Science mapping uses the bibliometric characteristics of referencing, text-similarity and authorial relationships to create proximity networks that allow for the delineation of coherent groups of articles based on common themes. This method provides a more holistic view of the science in this area and is a great tool for exploring the current state-of-the-art in sports nutrition research (Fig. 1).

The most commonly discussed topics in the literature on sports nutrition are muscle mass gain and dietary supplementation, carbohydrate metabolism, and oxidative stress (Fig. 2). The most recent and emerging topics are protein intake and muscle damage, energy balance in high-intensity exercise, and the role of ergogenic aids. Providing the right nutrients is essential to optimize athletic performance and prevent injury. Whether it is an endurance marathon, a speedy track race, or a tough basketball game, proper nutrition can make or break the outcome of the event.

For example, an athlete who consumes the right amount of carbohydrates can experience a positive performance-enhancing effect via the central nervous system. In contrast, an athlete who consumes too many carbohydrates can experience a negative performance-decreasing effect. Choosing the right foods, fluids and supplements can help athletes train longer and recover faster so they can get back on the field as soon as possible. In this book, a sports nutritionist and two chef-athletes walk you through the latest in nutrition research to reveal what really works. Part myth-busting scientific thriller, part mouth-watering cookbook, this book is a must for any endurance athlete.

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