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Ed Ronald J Maughan. (Pp 680; £69.50.) Oxford: Blackwell Science, 2000. ISBN 0632050942.
“A comprehensive review of the role of nutrition in sport and exercise” is promised at the beginning of the text, and, in my opinion, the promise is delivered.
The editor, Ron Maughan, from University Medical School, Foresterhill, Aberdeen is an established authority in exercise physiology and nutrition, and he has assembled no less than 65 experts (including himself) to produce this work for the IOC and FIMS, which represents volume VII of the Encyclopaedia of sports medicine. Every contributor has solid credibility and they come from institutions in Europe, Asia, Australasia, and North America. Many of the authors are known to me personally and are active in teaching and research, and in providing service directly to athletes and coaches. Sadly, one of the outstanding scientists, Ethan Nadel, died during the production of this book.
The book is divided into four sections, the first covering the basic sciences of physiology, biochemistry, nutrition and exercise, metabolic consequences of exercise in environmental stress and, importantly, supplements and ergogenic aids. Even alcohol and sport are discussed. Excellent!
The next section looks at “special considerations”, and the “usual suspects” are covered in a most thorough and practical discussion. The chapters deal with women, children, vegetarians, and the diabetic athlete (which I found particularly useful).
The final chapters cover specific areas of relevance where specialised understanding is required. These areas include sprinting, distance running, cycling, and team sports to name a few. My own interest in gymnastics (and my personal acquaintance with Dan Benardot) led me to single out the chapter on this sport for early reading as a test of style and practical applicability. Not surprisingly, this chapter is comprehensive, well balanced, and very well referenced. One could always complain that some sports are left out, but a review of the chapters in this section provides more than enough information to cover particular concerns. For example, chapter 47, “Weightlifting and power events”, lends itself to all the martial arts, bobsleigh events, track cycling, and of course the throws, jumps, and sprints in track and field athletics.
This is not a book to be read from cover to cover at one sitting. It is very definitely a worthy reference and should be dipped into as the need arises. Because of the quality of writing, the depth of references, and breadth of discussion, it will stand as a very useful text for years to come.
The editor and all contributors are to be congratulated!
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