Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Sports Nutrition at the Highest Level: America's Past Time

A recent sport nutrition article in the New York Times shined some light on what the highest level of athletics is doing to try and incorporate sport nutrition into their organizations. The article summarizes how the New York Yankees went out and hired a sports nutritionist to work with fueling their athletes during the season.

Below is excerpt from the article depicting how the nutritional recommendations are simply offered to the players but not mandated in the hopes of naturally instilling sound nutritional practices:

Nothing would be prohibited, but the unhealthy foods would not be on display. If someone desperately wanted a bacon cheeseburger and a strawberry milkshake, they could ask for it. Perhaps they would grow self-conscious, like a teenager trying to buy beer, and give in to the grilled salmon, quinoa and nuts.

I think this statement does a nice job of describing how the team sports nutritionists are relying on the players to make the decisions for themselves.

“I’m not there to shove it down their throat,” Sass said. “It’s not going to happen overnight. The goal is to make the best foods for athletes always available. If they want more of it, we’ll provide it.”
       -Cynthia Sass, a nutritionist,

This practice of hiring team sports nutritionists is a rapidly growing trend amongst professional organizations and those at the collegiate level that can afford it.  Mark Texiera of the Yankees is quoted in the article saying that they are actually behind the times a bit and I couldn't agree more. Nutrition is often an over looked aspect of optimal sport performance, particularly for baseball.  A lot of people think of previous baseball players and have images such as Babe Ruth, David Wells or other beer-bellied ball players that don't look anything like an athlete.  However, today's professional baseball players are beginning to treat their bodies more like prized possessions rather than a garbage disposal and are now realizing the value of sports nutrition.

In the past, most players across all levels just relied on their natural talents abilities and had an "if it ain't broke don't fix it" mentality however for a lot of players they may not necessarily be "broke" but they certainly aren't performing at their highest ability.  Optimal nutritional strategies can help enhance performance, facilitate recovery and prevent injuries; and during a 162+ game season, recovery and injury prevention are a top priority.

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