Facts and fallacies of the sports nutrition world
Did you know there are several Sports Dietitians Australia accredited and practicing dietitians in New Zealand? We’ve asked our friends at SDA to once again share their knowledge and insights, and this time they’re myth-busting!
Are carbohydrates fattening? Is drinking red wine good for your health? Are we cyclists truly addicted to coffee? All this and more… And remember, contact SDA today if you’re looking to improve your sporting performance through nutrition, and would like to find out about accredited dietitians in your area.
Carbohydrates are fattening – Fallacy
Carbohydrates have the same energy value (16kJ per gram) as protein (17kJ per gram), less than half the energy value of fat (37kJ per gram) and about half that of alcohol (29kJ per gram)!
It is the total energy (kilojoule/calorie) intake versus your expenditure that counts. If you eat more than you expend you will put on weight, usually stored as body fat, a good reason to be mindful of the calorie intake during your ride and at your coffee pit stops.
Protein does seem to have a greater satiety value than carbohydrate though, so include some of each in your meal.
Take up drinking red wine, it’s good for your health – Fallacy
Red wine may offer some protection against heart disease if drunk in moderation. However there are other adverse effects that alcohol consumption increases the risk of greatly. These include accidents (on the road, home and at work), increased risk of cancer and liver disease, let alone the excess readily stored kilojoules often found around the waist line, increasing your risk of heart disease.
Although you may enjoy a glass the night before a ride, it is not advised to take up drinking if you don’t already. The beneficial antioxidants of the wine can be found in many other plant foods for the same protective effects, try some fresh red grapes or raisins!
Drinking tea can help improve alertness – Fact
Tea contains antioxidants that we know are strongly associated with general health benefits.
Tea may also improve brain alertness by an amino-acid L-Theanine, which is found in the tea plant and virtually in no other plant. Around three to four cups of tea a day can show the improved alertness, so take your tea pot to race day! The evidence, while not overwhelming, is quite strong.
Caffeine will dehydrate you and is addictive – Fallacy
Whilst caffeine has a mild diuretic effect the body will still gain more fluid from a standard caffeinated drink than it will lose. It shouldn’t be consumed as your only fluid though and fluids containing electrolytes will be the most effective for rehydrating. Caffeine is a central nervous stimulant which gives the ‘perk up’ effect. It is thought by some authorities that caffeine is more a habit rather than physically addictive, which is why you might experience the headache and irritability without the morning habitual fix. Pleasing to know you can still stop and enjoy a tea or coffee along the way!
Special thanks to Simone Austin BSc MND, Accredited Practicing Sports Dietitian and currently working with Hawthorn Football Club and Melbourne Heart A League Soccer team, but who also consults in private practice to the novice and the elite (M: 0409435904)