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The Performance Zone: Your Nutrition Action Plan for Greater Endurance & Sports Performance (Teen Health Series)

by John Ivy, published by Basic Health Publications (2004-04)

Buy now from Amazon.com for $10.95
Amazon rating of 5.0 out of 5, Amazon sales rank: 66037

Editor's Review:

This book synthesizes the most sound and up-to-date science to provide a nutrition action plan that enables athletes to raise their athletic performance. Provides simple, proven guidelines for fueling muscles during and after sports activity.

Reader Reviews:

There are many books about sports nutrition, but very few that focus specifically on nutrition during exercise. In fact, to my knowledge there were none until this one came along. The Performance Zone, written by exercise physiologist John Ivy, Ph.D., and biochemist Robert Portman, Ph.D., fills a major informational void by providing athletes in all sports with detailed guidelines for fueling their bodies during training and competition.

The authors define "the performance zone" as a time interval that begins 30 minutes before exercise and ends 15 minutes after exercise. "Science clearly shows that the right combination of fluid and nutrients consumed within the Performance Zone will help you improve your athletic performance far more than the latest high-tech equipment or training device," they write. Ivy and Portman poured through hundreds of published research studies to determine exactly what and how much athletes should consume within this time period and on what kind of schedule.

Before they get to the practical recommendations, which make up the bulk of the book, the authors provide some interesting background on what happens inside the body during exercise and how "nutritional intervention" can help athletes prepare their body for activity, achieve optimal performance during the workout or competition, and recover quickly and thoroughly afterward.

Not surprisingly, Ivy and Portman conclude that a well-formulated sports drink is far superior to water or any other "natural" food or drink for use immediately before and during exercise. In Chapter 6, they attack the myth that all sports drinks are the same, pointing to significant differences in the formulations of various popular brands and explaining what they feel - based on the available science - is the ideal formulation.

The most useful part of The Performance Zone, Chapter 6 also shows how a simple calculation can show athletes exactly how much sports drink to consume based on their individual weight and activity. Endurance athletes in particular will find this calculation helpful, I believe. Triathletes and other endurance athletes are always struggling to find the right balance of fluid and carbohydrate intake. Ivy and Portman make the simple point - which, amazingly, I had never before read or heard anywhere else - that water loss and carbohydrate burning almost always occur in a fixed proportion during exercise: about 4.5 ounces per 100 calories. Nuggets like this really take the guesswork out of creating the proper fueling schedule.

The subject of post-exercise nutrition receives a similar treatment. The authors weigh the advantages and disadvantages of various recovery nutrition strategies ranging from "real food" to powdered drink mixes. Another simple formula allows athletes to calculate exactly how much water, carbohydrate, and protein they should consume within the post-exercise segment of the performance zone.

Nutritional needs and challenges and fueling opportunities vary from sport to sport. Understanding this fact, Ivy and Portman include a chapter in which a cavalcade of well-known professional athletes and coaches provide tips specific to each of a dozen sports. Among the contributors are mountain biking world champion Alison Dunlap and running coach Jeff Galloway. Parents and coaches of young athletes will probably get a lot out of this chapter. The final chapter, which discusses the drawbacks and dangers of a wide range of nutritional supplements and performance enhancing drugs, should be required reading for this audience, and for young athletes themselves.

All in all, The Performance Zone is an excellent resource with great practical value for athletes in all sports. As the authors point out in the book's first chapter, most athletes simply are not doing what the latest science suggests they out to be doing in terms of fueling their bodies before, during, and immediately following exercise. The Performance Zone promises to correct this problem one athlete at a time.New sports nutrition books seem to show up every week, so it is easy to be skeptical of each new one. But Ivy and Portman have put together one terrific book that unites nutrition and performance with sound (but not overwhelming) science giving very practical advice on the use of nutrition to improve exercise performance. Put both this and their companion book, Nutrient Timing, on the bookshelf and forget all those other books. No matter if you are a lifter or a runner, these will be all you need.
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See also:
Chinese Nutrition Therapy: Dietetics in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

Nutrient Timing: The Future of Sports Nutrition

The Paleo Diet for Athletes : A Nutritional Formula for Peak Athletic Performance

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