Sports Nutrition

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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Sports nutrition has received a boost in its coverage in recent years, a fact attributable to a number of factors. One of these is the sheer proliferation of magazines and journals on the newsstand. With titles dedicated to subjects like cat grooming and alpaca rearing, it's understandable that broader subjects such as nutrition would in turn receive substantially more ink. A booming publishing trade is hardly the most important factor in the rise of sports nutrition magazines, though.

In just the past decade or so, the field of nutraceuticals has taken off and commanded billions of consumer dollars. Supplements manufacturers have poured billions of their own into the research and development of antioxidants, those compounds that stave off damaging "free radicals" in the human body. Free radicals are known to bond to certain bodily organs and literally cause them to age prematurely, which can hinder their function.

Modern-Day Sports Nutrition

Predictably, then, the makers of supplements have stocked their energy bars and snacks with antioxidants, packaged them in appealing foil wrappers, and put them on the market at upwards of three dollars a pop. Avid health nuts have in turn snatched them up and made them a staple of their diets. Most working people don't have the time to prepare five square meals a day, so they've turned to "meal-replacement" bars for help. Increasingly, these bars taste less and less like cardboard and more and more like candy, which has only spurred their popularity further.

Sports nutrition has also benefitted from the rise of increasingly specialized sports drinks. In the past, it was enough to have a bottle of Gatorade courtside or on the bench, but nowadays sports drinks must have the perfect blend of amino acids and electrolytes to satisfy demanding athletes' needs. Whether these drinks, which are still largely just sugar, perform any real function to nutrition-starved athletes is dubious. What isn't, is the simple fact of their prevalence on the shelves of convenience stores and nutrition shops.


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