Nutritional Quality vs. Quantity: Proper Fuel For Performance

Posted: October 17, 2008 in health, nutrition, Nutrition Tidbits, sport, Sports Medicine, Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

So many athletes are hung up on finding that “magicpill, powder, or potion” to give them a competitive

edge. They spend hundreds of dollars monthly on the

latest fad supplements, yet their nutritional foundation

is pathetic at best. Th ey use exercising for hours a day

as a justifi cation for their sub par nutritional intake of

processed carbohydrates and convenience foods. Th eir

bodies may look fit on the outside, which further justifi

es this rationalization. However, if more athletes put

the same eff ort into being properly fueled as they do

into training for their sport, their performance would

increase exponentially (1).

There is a really big difference between nutritional quality

and nutritional quantity. Nutritional quantity is

what most people focus on. They think they know what

is healthy because they look at the nutrition facts panel

for the number of calories, grams of protein, carbohydrates,

and fat. They first look at the calories and if it

is some relatively low number like 200 or less they will

think it is acceptable. Next, they look to see if the protein

is over 10 grams, the fat is less than five grams, and

the carbohydrates are less than 10 grams. If it meets

these rough criteria they will deem the product as

“healthy.” Instead, they should be focusing on the nutritional

quality of the product. What ingredients make

up the calories, grams of protein, carbohydrates, and fat

and how will their bodies utilize these ingredients?

The key is to look at the history of nutritional degeneration

(what did we do before we messed everything up)

and what the rest of the animal kingdom is doing successfully.

Most humans disassociated themselves from

the source of where food comes from and are ignorant

to how food serves as a source of fuel in their bodies.

For example, protein is not just for building muscles

but it provides you with sustained energy (2).

The basic premise is that certain foods are optimal

for human consumption. We ate a particular way

for roughly all but the last 10,000 years of our over

2.7 million years of human existence and our bodies

have not adapted to processing these new man made

or genetically modifi ed convenience foods. On the

other hand, our bodies adapted to an omnivore diet of

healthy lean meats, veggies, a little fruit, healthy oils,

and nuts and seeds (3).

Now that we are in the 21st century, how do we apply

this prehistoric optimal way of eating into our chaotic,

modern day lifestyle? A good rule of thumb is “if it

does not spoil quickly, do not eat it.” Look for fresh,

raw, organic foods that can be sourced by nature not a

laboratory. As an athlete, if you put the same respect

and effort into fueling your body as a race car crew does

into fueling its car or a racehorse team does into nourishing

its horse, you will have the competitive edge you

are looking for.



1. Coyle, EF. Fat metabolism during exercise: Newconcepts. Sports Science Exchange  #59, 8(6) 1996.



2. Ha, E, Zemel, MB. Functional properties of whey, whey components, and essential amino acids: Mechanisms underlying  health  benefits  for active people (review). Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry  May;14(5):251-8. 2003 

3. Cordain L. Implications of Plio-Pleistocene Hominin Diets for Modern Humans. In: Early Hominin Diets: TheKnown, the Unknown, and the Unknowable. Ungar, P.


Article by Kyle Brown CSCS from NSCA Performance Journal.

Get Strong! Stay Strong!











  1. […] kate vickers deriso wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt […]

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