Nutrition News from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics
There are many methods and recommendations for a competitive athlete that is looking to manage their fitness during their soccer career. Although there are many factors that contribute to maintaining top physical form, players tend to be given general suggestions about what to eat and what not to eat.
GoalNation’s nutrition columnist Nancy Clark discusses the latest tips provided by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), and the need to look beyond just food intake when regulating your diet.
Soccer News: The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND) is the nation’s largest group of registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs). This year, over 12,000 RDNs convened in Boston (Oct 15-18, 2017) to learn the latest food & nutrition news. Here’s a taste of some of topics that were discussed and might be of interest to hungry soccer players, their coaches and parents.
- If you want to lose weight, should you count calories?
While learning about calories can be helpful, an alternative and equally effective weight loss method can be to choose primarily wholesome foods.
Research subjects who curbed their intake of processed food, refined grains, and foods with added sugar simultaneously reduced their intake of calories.
Dieters lost the same amount of weight as the dieters who counted calories.
- A survey of ~1,600 college students suggests those with higher stress reported having fewer healthy behaviors than their less-stressed peers.
The five healthy lifestyle behaviors they measured included: eating a healthy diet, not smoking or binge drinking, having a healthy BMI, and being physically active. In general, the females had more healthy behaviors than the males unless they were stressed. Thank goodness soccer is an excellent way to relieve stress!
- Many soccer parents offer their budding athletes nutrient-poor recovery snacks after soccer practices and games.
Is it counterproductive to encourage kids to exercise for fun and fitness, and then enable them to eat for bad health? Offering sports snacks that are both yummy and healthy gives a consistent message. Apple and peanut butter? Yogurt and granola bar? Watermelon?
- Some soldiers, like some soccer players, are more fit than others.
Results from an Army Physical Fitness Test indicated that soldiers with the highest fitness test scores made healthier food choices than those who got lower scores. The fittest soldiers consumed more fiber and whole grains, and fewer fatty foods and refined grains.
The top performers reported their food choices helped them feel energized all day (50% vs. 32% of the soldiers with lower fitness scores), be sharp mentally (45 vs. 35%), have improved response to stress (40% vs. 29%) and sustain fewer injuries (37% vs. 21%). They reported that good nutrition played a role in their ability to perform well.
Eating Disorders and Athletes
- What predisposes some soccer players to developing an eating disorder?
In a survey of women with eating disorders (12 athletes, 17 non-athletes), predisposing factors shared by 75% of the women included: low self worth, poor body image, and issues with peers.
Additional predisposing factors included depression and anxiety. Among the athletes, getting injured triggered disordered eating behaviors.
Tip: If you are an injured soccer player who has big fears about “getting fat” because you are doing less exercise, you’ll benefit from seeking guidance from a sports nutritionist (SCAN).
- Perfectionism is a trait that contributes to high levels of achievement, but it can also lead to the pursuit of a perfect but biologically unrealistic body type.
This same advice applies to all athletes—soccer players included—who struggle with food, weight and body image. The sooner you get help, the quicker you’ll be able to recover. And yes, you can eat well and still remain lean.
- Food packaging has a big impact on food purchases.
A survey of 6-year old kids indicates packaging influenced their food choices 9 of 12 times. Fifty-eight percent of parents reported they purchased what their child wanted. Yikes, healthy foods need better packaging.
- Color-coded food cues are often used to guide healthy food selection.
Researchers taught college students about foods that are Go (green), Slow (yellow) or Whoa (red). They placed signs on snack vending machines and created a food marketing campaign via Intranet, email, and posters. Two months after the campaign ended, food purchasing records indicated the students chose better quality snacks. We need more healthy eating campaigns…
As part of a marketing research study, Dunkin Donuts employees asked the customers who ordered a latte, “Would you like to make that a lite latte?”
With this nutrition nudge, sales for lite lattes increased from 19% to 52% during the 10–day experiment. In the 20 days afterwards (with no prompting), sales of lite lattes dropped by only 1%.
If this choice were to be maintained on a daily basis, the consumer could save 60 calories per drink, for a total of 4,550 calories per year. This would potentially eliminate the yearly pound or two of weight gain experienced by most Americans.
Small changes can make a big difference!
- Does adding calorie information to a menu alter food choices? Yes, if you pay attention to the information.
Students who were instructed to make meals from food photos created lower calorie meals when the photos included calorie information. Hopefully, calorie information that is available for chain-restaurants will help traveling soccer players make wise choices.
If you have ever wished that ice cream could comes in healthy-enhancing flavors, stay tuned. Raspberry-beet ice cream might be on the horizon!
SIDEBAR: Nutritional and medical advice changes with new discoveries and interpretations. Always check with your medical provider and/or nutritionalist for what is best for you and your family. And research and read information on nutrition!
Sports nutritionist Nancy Clark MS RD CSSD has a private practice in the Boston-area, where she helps both fitness exercisers and competitive athletes create winning food plans. Her best-selling Sports Nutrition Guidebook, and Food Guide for Soccer, as well as teaching materials, are available at www.nancyclarkrd.com.
For online and live workshops, visit www.NutritionSportsExerciseCEUs.com.