Information from the ADA addresses common misconceptions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The recent conference of the Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutritionists (SCAN), a dietetic practice group of the American Dietetic Association (ADA), included a discussion about the top 5 nutritional superstitions. Chris Rosenbloom, chair of the department of nutrition at Georgia State University and ADA spokesperson, addressed the following myths and their fallacies — all of which are worth sharing with your members.

  1. Never consume sugars before training and competition. While eating carbohydrates does cause the body to release insulin, relatively few athletes have hypoglycemia, in which the low blood sugar levels would limit energy available to muscles. Proven research shows that consuming carbohydrates one hour before exercise will help athletes reach optimum performance levels by providing them with the energy needed for endurance and strength.

  2. Sports drinks are unnecessary if an athlete exercises for under one hour. Recent research simulating stop-and-go sports like basketball or soccer proves this myth's fallacy. Athletes competing in shorter-term sports have fewer “mental errors” late in competition if they consume a well-formulated sports drink vs. water. Additionally, athletes tend to drink more when consuming a sports drink as opposed to water, thus staying better hydrated.

  3. Protein is all an athlete needs. Contrary to what many muscle magazines tell them, athletes who rely on protein as the mainstay of their diet risk energy deficits late in competition. Carbohydrates are the main fuel source for working muscles.

  4. Vitamin and mineral supplements provide energy. Only calories from food provide energy to the body. Vitamins and minerals play a role in energy metabolism, but they, in of themselves, do not provide energy. Athletes who rely heavily on supplements for increased energy do so at the risk of not having enough body resources to win the game.

  5. Body image distortion is a “woman's issue.” Men can suffer from “reverse anorexia.” As a result, they may consume high amounts of protein (at the expense of other nutrients, including the all-important carbohydrates) to increase muscle size.