Increasing exercise increases food cravings. It’s one of the first stumbling blocks many face when aiming for weight loss; the counterproductive need to eat more. Then I discover that balancing nutrition gets even trickier if you are trying to create some muscle mass while reducing fat stores.
Good decisions come from good research using quality information. Don’t you wish every voter had this tattooed on their arm in the lead up to an election.
For the 2013 Year of Sweat, I’ve started with some internet-based resources. Of course, as readers may be aware, I’m a fan of the Better Health site run by the Victorian State government. There are lots of fact sheets on physical activity and exercise. There are a couple of sheets about sports nutrition. I’ve also had success in the past with the Australian Institute of Sport, and it has fact sheets on nutrition designed for the general reader. But this time things got a little interesting.
The Australian Institute of Sport’s publication, Current Concepts in Sports Nutrition, seems to be sponsored by (or have a strong association with) something called PowerBar. At least the document does include references so I can track anything I wish to check.
This brings me to the first problem with finding information on sports nutrition. Any publication, including a government one, can be sponsored by a private company. The reader must look out for a possible skewing of the information to benefit that private company. It is always a concern. Did the publisher seek the sponsorship because the science already supported what the private company was doing? Or did the private company offer the sponsorship, with conditions, and the publisher saw no significant harm, at that time, in taking up the offer?
The second problem is using the internet as a source. How current is the information? Is it the latest or has the science moved on?
These two problems are not new and have been discussed widely in many corners of the internet and media. The third problem gets less attention – sports nutrition as commercial-in-confidence information.
When researching general nutrition last year, I found some comprehensive and detailed information on government websites. This year, in comparison, the amount of government-sourced information on sports nutrition is much less. It could just be that it is harder to find. The other possibility is that governments have stepped aside on this one. Governments are not supposed to contribute in areas where it would reduce competition or limit the ability of others to make a living. It’s ok for government to pitch in on general nutrition because that’s a public health issue. But the financial basis of sport, where teams are privately owned, tickets are sold to games and the advertising dollar is critical, means that any advantage one team can gain over the other has a commercial component. This includes nutrition.
So, having given up on finding comprehensive .gov sites, my attention turned to the .com sites. My first, and only, port of call was the Sport Dietitians of Australia. This organisation provides a number of factsheets that are useful for beginners like me.
So far, I’m only finding general information on sports nutrition. Perhaps that is all I need as there are no plans to be an athlete or run marathons. I just want to prevent the pitfalls that would limit the successful implementation of this Year of Sweat.