Eating for performance should be cheap and easy
Eating well doesn’t come cheap. At least not according to the sports nutrition industry. For $ 220 per month, Renaissance periodization connect you with a certified coach who will tell you what and when to eat based on your body composition and training goals. For $ 100 you can have a fitness influencer set macro targets for you (which you can then follow for free via MyFitnessPal). And for a relatively tiny price of $ 20, you can learn to eat exactly like seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback Tom Brady, though his supplement package will set you back $ 147.
We are constantly being marketed with products that promise us better workouts, bigger muscles, improved circulation, and more. Caffeinated drinks, gummy candies, and even vegetables have all been reformulated and rebranded as performance foods.
Before, things weren’t that complicated or expensive. According to an article by Muscle and Fitness, bodybuilders of the 1970s stuck with basic (albeit boring) meal plans consisting mostly of protein (beef, eggs, cottage cheese, chicken, and fish) and vegetables. The only thing that looked like a supplement was an analog protein shake, which was either made from soy protein powder or milk, with powdered milk added. Among runners, even basic energy bars were not common to marathoner Brian Maxwell created the PowerBars in 1984 and began marketing them to other athletes.
The idea that fitness and healthy eating are complicated and expensive perpetuates privilege in the wellness world. Regardless of the effectiveness of supplements, meal plans, and the like, it’s important to determine whether they make good sports nutrition – and, by extension, performance – seem out of reach for anyone who can’t afford it. to allow.
Standardizing expensive supplements, meal plans and snacks only adds another barrier to entry for low-income individuals and families, when whole foods and simple healthy diets will suffice. Journalist Anne Helen Petersen recently wrote about this in her bulletin, Cultural study, explaining how this message is particularly difficult for young athletes from low-income households, who are already massively disadvantaged due to the high cost of playing competitive peewee sports: “$ 4,000 to $ 6,000 per year spent on every kid in hockey, from $ 3,700 for baseball, and between $ 2,500 and $ 6,000 for football, âwrites Petersen, citing statistics from USA today.) And that’s certainly not a useful message for college athletes, more than a quarter of whom are food insecure (including 24 percent of Division 1 athletes), according to one. 2020 survey.
Predictably, a 2015 review in PLoS A states that those with the highest incomes are more likely to participate in any type of physical activity than those with the lowest incomes, and that those in the highest income group spent about 26% more energy per exercise than those in the lowest income group. The researchers can’t pinpoint the exact cause, but they cite time constraints as a possible explanation: Low-income people generally have less free time because they work longer hours and can’t afford as many amenities. There’s also the fact that even basic forms of physical activity require investments like athletic shoes and clothing, not to mention gym memberships, expensive equipment, and travel required for more specialized sports.
A personalized refueling strategy can complement training and improve performance, but focusing too much on how you eat can have diminishing physiological returns. âUnless they aspire to go pro or achieve elite status, the everyday athlete doesn’t need to be overly concerned with fine-tuning their nutrition,â says Cara Harbstreet, dietitian. and owner of Smart food on the street. In fact, she says, athletes who rely heavily on supplements or buy âperformance enhancingâ meal plans often end up eating too little, which has a significant negative effect on performance.
The basics of good sports nutrition are eating balanced snacks and meals, each containing protein, carbohydrates, and fat, every two to four hours, and making sure you’re well hydrated, explains Rachel Manor, sports dietitian and former director of sports nutrition at the University of North Carolina. That alone can be enough for many people, as long as you eat a variety of nutritious foods in sufficient amounts to make you feel full and energized. And while some athletes may need to supplement specific nutrients that they are not getting enough from their diet (vitamin D, iron, and calcium are common deficiencies. for athletes), it is not necessary to have a cabinet full of pills and powders.
Plus, sport-specific supplements don’t necessarily offer something that food doesn’t. “The ingredients of many sports supplements, such as creatine, branched-chain amino acids, and nitric oxide boosters, are actually food components, and athletes need to be reassured that food is an effective way. and inexpensive to consume “, states Kathleen searles, a sports dietitian based in Littleton, New Hampshire. She recommends protein-rich staples (poultry, meats, fish, dairy, and legumes) in place of powders and inexpensive snacks like chocolate milk or a bowl of cereal instead of marketed bars and shakes. as recovery aids.
The bottom line is that expensive meal plans and sports supplements don’t offer much value, although they cost a lot more than whole food alternatives. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich has roughly the same nutritional profile as a peanut butter ProBar, and at a fraction of the cost (about 44 cents for the PB&J, against more than three dollars for the Bar Pro). The next time you think about shell out for any of these things, ask yourself if you really take advantage of it or if you just buy into marketing or convenience. And remember, a lot of people don’t even have the luxury of making that choice.