The Nutrition Trap

Some of the reasons why many tennis parents and players alike don’t know anything or very little about nutrition are:

  • No exposure to nutrition in schools
  • Food giants try to keep the general public as uneducated about nutrition as possible
  • Unreliable sources
  • Fast food is the cheapest food, most heavily advertised, and most convenient to buy

No Exposure to Nutrition in Schools

It doesn’t matter what levels of education you possess, GED/High School Diploma or PhD, the core curriculum in schools and universities generally doesn’t include any nutrition courses hence people don’t know anything about nutrition; you need to have self motivation and elect to take a nutrition class.Another option is that you walk into your local book store or order your nutrition books online. Either way you slice it, you must have the desire to learn about nutrition.

Why Most College Athletes Are Clueless When It Comes To Nutrition Principles

The main reason is that they receive 5 different answers for one single question, depending on who they ask. The sources student athletes consult for nutrition advice are often inadequate. A recent study found that NCAA Division I athletes get most of their nutritional advice from:

  1. Strength & Conditioning Coaches or Athletic Trainers
  2. Personal Trainers
  3. Commercials

Even though most NCAA Division I schools have a registered dietitian (RD) on staff and available to the athletes, most of the athletes are not aware of it. According to a recent study conducted by Burns et al. Student Athlete Use of Nutritional Supplements and the Role of Athletic Trainers and Dietitians in Nutrition Counseling found that:

  • 27% of respondents in study did not realize that a RD was available for the athletes
  • ~ 41% of athletes received information from their Strength Coach or an Athletic Trainer
  • 88% of respondents used some form of nutritional supplement (Most common supplements were vitamins/minerals and the athletes believed they improved performance)

Food Giants vs. You

Most Americans receive nutrition information through infomercials on TV. The problem is that companies try to make profits and hence will give you information that encourages you to purchase their product regardless if the product is “good” for you or not. Remember, the company’s goal is to sell food that tastes good, which generally is not the “best” food for you since “good taste” often comes from added sugars, fats, or oils. Your objective must be to consume food that supplies your body with quality ingredients.

Example:

If you order a Big Mac Meal at McDonald’s you get fries, burger, and a big soda for ~$5. McDonald’s needs to make a profit from the $5 hence let’s assume that McDonald’s pays $3 for the Big Mac Meal they sell. In other words, you are eating food that costs $3. Do you believe that you get good quality for $3?

Generally speaking, one can follow the 60-30-10 formula when it comes to nutrition information/food infomercials:

  • 60% of the information are completely false
  • 30% has a little bit of truth to it
  • 10% is actually the truth

Unreliable Sources

The world of nutrition changes rapidly depending on new insights gained from scientific experiments. Unfortunately many sources, especially on the internet, make claims that are not based on scientific evidence.

Example:

Don Lemmon introduces himself as the #1 Online Nutritionist. He claims on his website that his proprietary blend contains 36 different amino aids.

First of all, what significance does the statement “I’m the #1 Online Nutritionist” have? None whatsoever; it doesn’t reveal any significant competency. Another problem is, there are no 30 amino acids known to mankind, as of today “only” 20. So, unless he has discovered 10 new amino acids that other leading scientists are unaware off, one can assume that his claim is imaginary.

Fast Food

Unlike citizens of many other nations, many Americans usually don’t plan when and what they are going to eat during the course of the day. Therefore, when they feel hungry they need to find food right away and convenience often becomes the decisive factors. What is more convenient than fast food restaurants? Any exit on US highways offers at least one fast food restaurant and you don’t even need to leave your car to eat. Fast food is also the cheapest food you can buy and it is heavily advertised – most commercial breaks feature an advertisement for fast food.