| ||Detroit Red Wings dietitian Lisa McDowell has a passion for fresh, functional food and enjoys sharing her knowledge with athletes to improve performance. McDowell applies the science behind sports nutrition and translates rigorous scientific research to food and meal planning for the Red Wings. Read more in this month's Priority Health Wellness Blog below. TO VISIT THE PRIORITY HEALTH MONTHLY DIGITAL MAGAZINE, CLICK HERE.
There is so much information–and misinformation–out there. How can you be certain the advice you are reading is really the best? Recommendations based on science offer the most credible resources while reducing confusion. I’m certainly in favor of cutting-edge techniques. For my work with the Detroit Red Wings, we are always looking for ways to incorporate new recipes or approaches that will help the players. But I will never risk the performance of any athlete because of a new, unproven fad in sports nutrition. The science must be sound, and for the most part, it must also be palatable for the athletes.
The pace of nutrition research in sports performance is increasing every year. Each day, I have at least 10 studies to read and three new podcasts to listen to while I run. It’s my job to stay current, and the players will be the first to say that standing still is a recipe for being beat.
So in the spirit of helping to avoid the misinformation that is out there, I have compiled some links to websites and other online resources I highly recommend, and that are based on science. Whether you are looking for guidance to complete an Ironman race, a recipe for dinner or a handout for your daughter’s soccer team, these links will help:
1. TEAM USA Resource & Fact Sheet
Team USA sports dietitians have put together these tremendous fact sheets and recipes, and while they are geared toward Olympic athletes, much of the information and recipes can be useful for the weekend warrior as well. This link will provide you with handouts and recipes that can be printed out to help you fuel like an Olympian.
When I work with sports teams, I feel that I am always sharing the handouts below. These provide snapshots of how an athlete’s plate should look on an easy, moderate and hard training day:
Click here for an example of one of our favorite recipes from the USA Olympic kitchen. Be sure to check out all the wonderful recipes included on the Team USA link.
2. Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN)
The next resource is brought to you by the Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutrition (SCAN) practice group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Board Certified Specialists in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) created the references you will find in this link, which is the first and only sports nutrition certification program to be accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).
Created by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, NCCA accreditation reflects achievement of the highest standards of professional credentialing. If you are looking for nutrition experts to help you improve performance, you will want to make sure your sport RD is board certified and has the credentials – RD, CSSD. Reproduction of the fact sheets is permitted for educational purposes with credit granted to SCAN.
Visit the SCAN website to view ‘Fact Sheets’ that contain information for any kind of athlete.
3. USA Triathlon Fuel Station
This is a phenomenal link for nutrition information for the multisport athlete. USA Triathlon Fuel Station provides great tips for fueling, recent research updates and delicious recipes. Check out some of their great topics on their web page.
4. Australian Institute for Sport
The Australian Institute for Sport is an indispensable resource for more in-depth information about the use of supplements. The supplements are divided into four categories according to how much evidence has been proven in scientific studies. For example, supplements are classified from A to D.
Category A incudes supplements that have evidence for sport-specific situations like electrolytes, whey protein, probiotics, multivitamins and minerals, with references including best practice protocols. Category B includes supplements deserving of further research or those being used as part of research situations. These may include curcumin, glucosamine, glutamine or exotic berries.
Category C includes supplements with little proof or known beneficial effect, and Category D includes a list of banned or high-risk supplements like ephedrine, testosterone and prohormones. You also will find links to the World Anti-Doping Agency list.
There are numerous fact sheets available about specific sports - from Alpine Skiing to Water Polo. Helpful information about different body types, various diet plans, medical nutrition therapy, and travel nutrition also can be found here. There is also a link to more sports nutrition recipes and drinks.
5. Moms Team
Moms Team provides excellent resources for parents of student athletes. Information on eating disorders, travel, special diets, hydration, healthy meal plans and advanced sports nutrition tips can be found here. I had the opportunity to write for Moms Team – see my article here: Dietary Supplements Article
6. National Sanitation Foundation
There are thousands of supplements out there, and many are downright dangerous. Half of the people in this country use a dietary supplement, spending more than $28 billion on supplements last year.
How do you know if your supplement is safe? The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) provides a supplement ‘certification for sports’ designed to ensure supplements are free of banned substances. This list is updated daily and is my go-to reference for knowing what products have been tested.
Of note, making this list does not mean the products are necessary, or even beneficial. It just means they are free from banned substances. Many of the products receiving NSF certification contain ingredients I would never recommend to my athletes. Examples include artificial dyes, fillers and artificial flavors. ‘Buyer beware’ is always sound advice, but starting with NSF certification can certainly help narrow the list. For example, if I were looking for a great fish oil product, I would choose Nordic Naturals because NSF has certified it for sport, and the product uses great ingredients.
7. My Sports Science
My Sports Science helps athletes achieve the best possible performance by applying the latest research behind nutrition science. Dr. Asker Jeukendrup is a leading sports physiologist, conducting revolutionary research on the interaction between nutrition and performance. If you are looking for evidence-based application of nutrition science, this is a vital resource.