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Professors Jeukendrup and Gleeson comment on their new edition of Sport Nutrition

The authors of the textbook Sport Nutrition (4th edition), Professors Asker Jeukendrup and Michael Gleeson tell us what their book, published on 5th June 2024, is about, what is new, and why they think it should be adopted for college, university and online sport nutrition courses around the world.

Sport nutrition is a relatively young discipline

Michael begins by saying “It is usually helpful to begin with some important definitions” and continues “nutrition is usually defined as the substances that are taken into the body as food and the way that they influence health, growth, and body functions. Human nutrition can be described as the process by which substances in food are transformed into body tissues and provide energy for the full range of physical and mental activities that make up human life. The study of human nutrition is interdisciplinary in character, involving not only physiology, biochemistry, and molecular biology but also psychology and anthropology, which explore the influence of attitudes, beliefs, preferences, and cultural traditions on food choices. Human nutrition is also influenced by economics and politics as the world community recognises and responds to concerns such as malnutrition, obesity, cardiovascular/metabolic diseases and sustainable agriculture and eating choices.” He further elaborates that “Our book is specifically about sport nutrition which is a subdiscipline of human nutrition that is concerned with the foods, beverages and supplements used by athletes to achieve their goals of optimal performance, training adaptation, and recovery while maintaining appropriate body composition and good health. It also considers the types, amounts and timing of nutrient intake required to achieve these goals. Our book Sport Nutrition, considers all the aspects of nutrition described above and explains the science that underpins the current recommendations for athletes.”

Asker chips in with “We believe that to understand and apply the principles of sport nutrition, some basic understanding of nutrition is necessary, as is some knowledge of the biochemical and physiological processes that occur in cells and tissues. It is also important to understand the way in which those processes are integrated throughout the body. Our book introduces the reader to the principles that underpin sport nutrition and their relation to sports performance.”

Is everyone an "expert" in sport nutrition?

Asker goes on to explain that there is “a real problem of misinformation in sport nutrition” and why an evidence-based text written by authors who understand the science behind the guidelines is so valuable to those wanting a reliable resource to inform them about the subject: “One of the reasons why we have so much confusion about nutrition and sports nutrition is that many people who do not possess knowledge of this important background (nutrition, physiology, biochemistry) communicate beliefs (particularly on social media) without really understanding the background. In addition, there are many people trying to sell sport nutrition products, too often with misleading claims based on a selective and biased presentation of the evidence (if indeed they present any evidence at all!). Therefore, a book is needed that is written by qualified and experienced scientists who have taught, researched and practiced extensively in the field of sport nutrition that provides a scientific underpinning of current sport nutrition guidelines and advice for athletes in a variety of sports as well as a critical evaluation of popular nutrition foods, beverages and supplements.”

The authors believe that readers of their book do not need a deep understanding of biochemistry, biology, chemistry, or physiology, but it helps if they are familiar with some of the main concepts because, as Asker explains: “The physical, chemical, and biochemical properties of cells and tissues determine the physiological responses to exercise and the effect that nutrition has on these responses.” Readers lacking this knowledge can refer to Appendix A located in the free online ancillaries.

New full color illustrations

Sport Nutrition, fourth edition (now with HK Propel Access), is greatly enhanced with a new full-color format showcasing 40 new infographics and 50 additional figures and illustrations, some of which are shown below. Michael and Asker in collaboration with Human Kinetics artists designed these visual elements and celebrate that “they provide a more engaging experience, allowing students to fully comprehend important concepts, methods, and research findings.” They continue by declaring that “Our book is more than a simple prescription of recommendations as it offers a systematic presentation of the science supporting current nutrition guidelines. We believe it really is the ideal book to provide a comprehensive understanding of nutrition as it relates to sport, exercise performance, training, and recovery and that is one of the reasons why it is an ideal textbook for a college or university course in sport nutrition.”

What is new in this edition of Sport Nutrition?  

Asker tells us what in new in this the fourth edition of their book by first emphasizing that “This new edition has been updated in all areas and has been significantly expanded in areas that are most important in sport nutrition. But not only the theory has been updated, expanded and improved, the practical applications get a lot more attention too. And a big step up from previous editions is the inclusion of artist-inspired graphics that take the book illustrations to a new level. He goes on to list some of the topics new to this edition: “New topics include a discussion of the importance of nutrition in sport, how to recognize good versus bad information about sport nutrition, the role of the gut microbiota and how it is affected by diet and exercise, new guidelines to limit gastrointestinal problems during exercise and whether or not electrolyte replacement during exercise in the heat is desirable, the verdict on new popular supplements including ashwagandha, cannabidiol and cordyceps, nutrition for the athlete during a period of illness, and the highly topical issue of low energy availability and the causes and consequences of relative energy deficiency in sport, to name just a few.”

Who is the book is written for?

Asker has the final word about the sort of book this is and who it is aimed at: “We think anyone interested in sports nutrition can benefit from this book. It is not a book to read on a beach with a cocktail. Someone on twitter (X) asked if this would be available as an audiobook because they did not like to read.... well, this book is definitely not intended for that purpose. This book is for someone who wants to really expand their knowledge of sports nutrition, really get a deeper understanding and is willing to study! The book can of course also be used to look up a particular topic and thus function as a reference source of information (an encyclopedia or Wikipedia of sport nutrition, if you like!).”