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By Diane Spicer
Hiking nutrition news:
Do I mean the "fluff" articles in women's magazines?
You know, the "Eat all the candy bars you want and STILL lose weight" headlines that grab your attention in the check out line?
Trail snacks = candy bars?
Nah! That's just marketing hype!
I mean REAL hiking nutrition news, hot off the press.
The scientific press, that is.
Here's an example: ISSN Exercise & Sport Nutrition Review: Research & Recommendations.
I can hear you yawning already!
Give me 5 seconds to explain why I LOVE journals which publish review articles.
It's one stop shopping.
Now that's hiking nutrition news a hiking woman can love.
Here's what the latest hiking nutrition news, summarized in that juicy little 43 page article, says.
Let's begin with this:
There's been a lot of time and energy devoted to tightening up the definition of "ergogenic aid", meaning things used as training techniques to enhance performance (physical, mechanical, nutritional, pharmacological, or psychological aids, as the case may be).
Hiking nutrition news should definitely include this topic!
Let's bottom line this with this question:
Do nutritional supplements marketed to hikers (and other athletic people) really work?
That's a question I always have when I'm standing in front of a shelf full of products screaming "I'm great! Take me home!"
The article goes into great detail explaining how to unravel this question about sports nutrition.
Nutritional supplements are regulated in the United States - sort of.
This, in turn, drives marketing standards - what the manufacturer is allowed or not allowed to say in advertising the product.
Have you noticed this disclaimer on supplements?
Hmmmm ... then why are you buying it? Just because it tastes good?
There's gotta be motivation, right?
And who told you it's the thing to buy and use?
Where does your information come from, and is it trustworthy?
Just because Oprah or Ellen recommend it, doesn't mean it will give YOU good results.
Especially since popular media isn't a particularly reliable source of hiking nutrition news (or any other type of nutrition news, in my humble opinion).
Which brings us to the next interesting topic in hiking research news: product safety and quality.
Seems like many companies are going the extra mile (a little hiking pun, sorry...) to assure customers that their products are:
An interesting recommendation in the paper:
Request a copy of the quality tests for a product.
So how can you evaluate the claims on a dietary supplement?
For example, you have this question:
Will what's in this bottle really do for me what the company says it will?
This is a thorny question, and there are many layers to the answer.
The short and sweet version goes like this.
My humble advice?
Stick to reputable companies:
And always evaluate the claims on the products with a grain of salt: Is this a reasonable claim?
The rest of this lengthy article is devoted to outlining recommendations for energy intake and nutritional needs for active individuals (such as hikers).
Here's an example:
If you are exercising at moderate to high intensity (hiking uphill, perhaps) for an hour or more, you will of course deplete your stores of nutrients.
What should you do to stay energized?
An interesting table embedded in the article breaks down vitamins (an example of nutritional ergogenic aids) according to:
It's a fascinating table, given the long list of ingredients on some of the "sports" type beverages and bars.
So if you're into vitamins, take a look at this table.
Even if you're just into eating the latest "energy" bar, this table will let you see if you're paying for hype, or evidence-based fact.
One more thing I like is this sentence from the paper: "The most important nutritional ergogenic aid for athletes is water."
Right on! I've been saying that for longer than I'd care to admit!
Water is a nutrient, and when I hike, I replace it regularly.
One last plug for reading this entire article (use link above):
If you're curious about the safety and efficacy of muscle building/sports enhancing supplements, the authors (remember, there's a lot of them!) analyzed the scientific literature and classify each of them into useful categories:
Alas, here's where things get a little sticky: some of the authors take money from industry, meaning that there's potentially a conflict of interest in some of this information.
Nevertheless, it makes for some interesting reading in your non-trail time if you're going to be tackling some tough trail in the future.
For your reading pleasure, here are a few more tidbits on various types of hiking nutrition news:
Hiking Nutrition News