Monday, June 30, 2008

Endurance Sports Nutrition Book Review

Since we had a power failure that lasted more than 15 hours this past Saturday, I had a chance to sit and read a new sports nutrition book that I picked up a few weeks ago: Endurance Sports Nutritionby Suzanne Girard Eberle. I have at least a half dozen sports nutrition books, either required for graduate school or recommended reading from Registered Dieticians that I've met via professional activities. They all have their strengths and weaknesses - this is one of the best for endurance athletes.

The good:

*This book goes where most don't - extreme environments such as high altitude, extreme heat, extreme cold.
*Most sports nutrition books are geared for marathon runners. This one covers not only the marathon and shorter endurance events, but also has entire chapters devoted to ultras and multi-day events.
*Not just for runners, cyclists, and triathletes, but also an entire chapter devoted to long distance swimmers and rowers.
*Covers endurance eating for vegetarians.
*Covers how to use supplements effectively, timing of fuel and fluids, and how much of what to take (and when).
*Common problems encountered by endurance athletes, such as muscle cramping, upset stomach, runners trots, anemia, immune function, food intolerances or allergies, eating disorders, etc.
*The unique challenges to female endurance athletes, such as female athlete triad, PMS, and training during pregnancy or breast feeding.
*Gives more specific nutrition recommendations based on duration of training compared to other books (ie 1 hour/day vs 3 hours/day). Not just what to eat immediately before or during the event, but on a regular basis.
*Offers sport specific nutrition recommendations for certain events.
*Tips on how to lose body fat without losing strength or endurance.

What's missing:

*Recipes. Not necessarily a bad thing - Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook is another excellent resource that fills that bill if you're looking for easy and healthy recipes. Her book is more of a general sports nutrition book and not necessarily just for endurance athletes.
*Sports nutrition for strength and power sports, hypertrophy, etc. This one specializes in endurance. Again, not a bad thing - just be aware.

The bottom line:

I have both of the books mentioned, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend either of them. Right now I'm most interested in moving from general trail running to ultra trail running, and Suzanne Eberle's book is currently my main resource for that endeavor. If you are strictly an endurance athlete, this book is a great resource. If you are interested in sports nutrition for muscle hypertrophy, have specific chronic health challenges such as diabetes or hypertension, you'd do better somewhere else.