E-Nutrition: Resources for Athletes on the Web

By Nancy Clark, MS RD CSSD
For Active.com

Whether you want to analyze your sports diet, get an answer to your questions about creatine, or find a new recipe for chicken, you can get an amazing amount of high-quality food, nutrition and health information on the Web.

The trick is, what’s quality information and what’s hokum? Here are some of my favorite websites; perhaps this information will be a helpful resource for you, as well.

If you have questions about fueling for exercise, The Australian Institute of Sport (whose mission is to help educate Olympic athletes and coaches) offers abundant sports nutrition information. Click on Sport Science/Sport Medicine and you can find out how to fuel for your particular sport (triathlon, running, rugby, rowing, etc.), as well as fact sheets and articles that offer answers to your questions about sports supplements, including antioxidants, bovine, colostrum, glutamine and more.

Wonder how your sports diet stacks up? This website lets you analyze the protein, carbohydrate and fat content of your diet, and helps tract your food, exercise and weight goals. Just enter into their nutrition calculator what you typically eat in a day, and you’ll learn how well you eat. Note: The key to getting accurate nutrition information is to measure the true portion sizes of what you eat. That is, how much granola do you actually consume–one cup? Two cups? Measure food; don’t guess!

Wonder about caffeine? Aspartame? Chocolate? You’ll find the answers to your food questions on this site sponsored by the International Food Information Council Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to communicate reliable information about food, food safety and nutrition. Just go to “search”, enter the topic and enjoy articles that answer your questions.

Do you have questions or concerns about how to eat to lower your cholesterol? Either search for information about your food of interest (soy, fish, eggs etc.) or click on Healthy Lifestyle. Also explore Delicious Decisions for abundant heart-healthy recipes.

Wonder about the nutritional needs of infants? Your grandparents? Your children? Yourself? The National Agricultural Library’s Food and Nutrition Information Center provides abundant information about nutrition throughout the lifecycle, food safety, the Food Pyramid, a search tool to look at the nutritional value of the foods you eat, plus a wealth of nutrition information.

If you are struggling to find the right balance of food and exercise, this site offers helpful information as well as videos of professionals who can help you find peace with food. There’s no need to struggle on your own; this site can help you develop a better relationship with food and your body.

Are you really getting what you pay for when you buy nutritional supplements? ConsumerLab.com monitors the quality of vitamin and mineral supplements, herbs, nutrition bars, protein powders and numerous other health products so you can learn which brands offer you the best for your money. Some of the information is free; some comes with a fee. An annual subscription is $29.95; a single product review is $12. The site could likely save you that much money… www.cancernutritioninfo.com 
Just about everyone knows someone who is afflicted with cancer. This website helps translate the latest research into healing food suggestions to help cure or prevent cancer. www.nlm.nih.gov 
The National Library of Medicine offers easy-to-understand medical information for the general public (click on Medline Plus) as well as access to the latest research published in medical journals (click on PubMed). If you want the latest news on creatine, vitamin C, and exercise or carbohydrate-loading, simply search the topic of interest and wade through the abstracts. www.mealsforyou.com 
Have no idea what’s for dinner but want something tasty? You’ll find lots of food ideas on this website–not only 8,000 recipes but also nutrition information about each recipe and a customized food shopping list. You can look for recipes according to health needs (low cholesterol, diabetes), time available to cook, nutrition and taste (that is, are you hankering for comfort food, gourmet food, holiday foods, taste of the world, chocolate?). You can also choose from the list of the most popular recipes. The Spinach Stuffed Chicken Breasts (preparation time: 10 minutes; cooking time: 35 minutes) sounds good to me! www.vegweb.com 
If you are thinking about a vegetarian lifestyle, this website, sponsored by Vegetarians Unite!, was designed to create an Internet vegetarian community. It offers over 4,300 recipes including kid-friendly foods, plus chat rooms, articles, books, even veggie poems. A fun site! www.SCANdpg.org
Looking for a local sports dietitian who can help answer your personal nutrition questions? This site, sponsored by SCAN, the American Dietetic Association’s dietary practice group of Sports & Cardio-vascular Nutritionists, offers a referral network. Just click on your state, and you’ll get a list of sports nutrition professionals who can give you personalized attention. Don’t let nutrition be your missing link.