Strength Basics

Getting stronger, fitter, and healthier by sticking to the basics. It's not rocket science, it's doing the simple stuff the right way. Strength-Basics updates every Monday, plus extra posts during the week.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Book Review: Peak Performance - Sports Nutrition

by Donna Shryer
Published 2009
140 pages

Peak Performance Sports Nutrition is a book about nutrition for athletes, aimed at and written for a young adult (YA) audience. Since I work with kids and often hear teens discussing terribly inaccurate "facts" about eating, I thought this book would be worth looking into as a resource for parents and kids alike.

The upside of the book is that it really hones in on its target audience, and makes the material accessible without dumbing it down. That's a real plus. But it's strongly outweighed by the negatives.

The book is squarely centered on the food pyramid - a base of grains building up to meats eaten "sparingly." Meat and donuts, as usual, are lumped into the same category in terms of servings.

It does differentiated between the glycemic index (GI) and glycemic load (GL) and explain them. It also emphasizes the importance of fiber. But it also clings to the idea that the US RDA is perfectly accurate for an athletic population, even when it says elsewhere that you'll need more total calories and total macronutrients - without somehow exceeding the limits based on a caloric total nearly half of what you'd need to eat.

It makes statements that are potential bombshells, such as "Consuming excessive amounts of protein alone won't make anyone stronger. In fact, it can eventually make you weaker." It cites a source for this, but doesn't explain. Imagine you're a teen reading this - that's scary! How much is excessive? How much longer? Weaker how? If you drink that protein shake or eat that extra helping of chicken, will you get weaker? That kind of thing is something that should raise red flags, but it's just made as a statement in passing.

It makes odd errors, too - like saying Americans typically eat in excess of 100 grams of protein a day, and that this is "50 percent higher than the RDA, which is around 55 grams daily for a [...] male and 45 grams for [...] [a] female". Uhm, 50% more than 55 is 77.5, 50% higher than 45 is 67.5. One hundred grams is almost 100% higher than the RDA for a male and is more than 100% higher than the RDA for a female. So why the weaker figure of 50%, that doesn't even come close mathemetically? Errors of math make all of your numbers suspect to a reader that notices them.

It also has the typical madness of saying that saturated fats and trans fats are both to be avoided, but that 1/3 of your fat calories a day should come from saturated fats. So, if they are that unhealthy, why are you making them 1/3 of your fat consumption, along with 1/3 polyunsaturated and 1/3 monounsaturated? Look, just say to the reader that it's very easy to get saturated fat, and you want to have an equal amount of poly and mono along with sat fat. That's easy, and doesn't make a healthy and needed fat into a villain.

Content: 2 out of 5. It's the same-old, same-old, complex carbs, low fat, food pyramid. More than once it makes statements that cry out for supporting content, only to move on without supporting them
Presentation: 4 out of 5. Laid out well, attractively illustrated, with easy to understand writing.

Overall: Skip it. It's just the usual "follow" advice you get from any free resource, and nothing else.

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