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Nutrition and Performance in Sport

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Christophe Hausswirth

Preface

Jean-Pierre de Vincenzi

Texte intégral

1Scientists’interest in food and the diet has grown consistently since the 20th century. This phenomenon is greatly encouraged by the public authorities, who were primarily concerned with combating malnutrition, and are now attempting to limit the devastating effects of “junk food” in post-industrial society. This interest has led to some clichés being demolished, while others continue to do the rounds, as, admittedly, what we eat is often dictated by fashionable trends: one diet follows the next, experimental discoveries are sometimes translated into lay terms too quickly, and slimness peddlers do not always have our best interests at heart.

2For decades, the links between the diet and sporting performance only really interested trainers and athletes, and many wars had to be waged before the notion of a specific sports diet emerged, and then became accepted.

3Sporting nations have now taken this concept on board, and during major international competitions it is not unusual for athletes to be accompanied by chefs, dieticians and nutritional experts to help them maintain the nutritional habits of their home country and avoid untested foods which might be of limited benefit to them. Thus, nutrition is of interest as part of daily training, pre-competition honing, and even during the competition itself, especially if it runs over several days. Today, the wide range of foods available to athletes, as well as the progress noted in the field of nutritional hygiene, have undoubtedly contributed to improving their state of health as well as their one-off and repeat performances.

4In France, INSEP has, of course, played a decisive role. In recent years, applied sports nutrition has been reinforced in the courses offered at the institute, creating ever-growing and tighter links between the ideas of energy expenditure and the needs covered by the diet and hydration.

5Indeed, it is essential to have access to precise data when it comes to sports nutrition, in particular to establish rational behavioural bases ensuring that athletes are in good physical and mental form, in better health, are protected against injuries, infections, etc. and thus, ultimately, ready to perform at a high level in their chosen sport.

6This is why I wanted INSEP to create a think tank which could not only separate the wheat from the chaff, but also make clear recommendations to athletes, to help them better manage their diets based on the constraints associated with their training. This group has already issued summary documents, practical notices, recipes, a telephone app for dietary education, and has regular meetings with managers, trainers and high-level athletes. But we needed to go further to make the fruits of several months’reflection available to a wider public.

7I hereby congratulate and present my sincere thanks to Christophe Hausswirth, Head of the Research Department, and the national and international collaborators that he has gathered around him, and I am happy that this important investigative work has culminated today in the publication of this e-book, which will undoubtedly mark a turning point in the history of sports nutrition.

© INSEP-Éditions, 2015

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