Getting it right
What does good nutrition advice for adolescent athletes look like? Maybe like this:
Simply put, good nutritional advice for teenage endurance athletes in general, and swimmers in particular, has the following characteristics:
- Athletic goals drive the nutritional advice.
- Guidance is specific to the athletes. Nutritional concerns that relate primarily to people in middle-age and later are not raised.
- The difficulty of consuming enough food is acknowledged.
- As such, nutritional guidelines for consumption of macronutrients and calories are mostly expressed as minimums, not maximums.
- The threat to the athlete’s health that comes from undereating is emphasized repeatedly.
- The threat to the athlete’s performance that comes from undereating is emphasized repeatedly.
- The dangers of fat restriction (or restriction of any macronutrient) are emphasized repeatedly.
- None of the macronutrients are demonized or discussed in a manner that suggests they are toxic or dangerous.
- The different nutritional needs of men and women are discussed.
- The seemingly extreme diets (in terms of quantity consumed) of elite athletes are openly discussed. These nutritional approaches are not disparaged or dismissed as unhealthy.
- The evidence for nutritional recommendations is candidly evaluated. Where the evidence is truly inconclusive, recommendations are not offered.
- The advice is kept as simple as possible, but not simpler than that.
I mean, is that so hard?