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The Best Books on Fitness Nutrition

Updated on May 16, 2012

Eating the right foods in the right proportions at the right times is key to maintaining fitness for daily life as well as to achieving optimum performance in competitive sports requiring power, endurance or both. Depending on your age, gender, and fitness goal, your nutritional needs will vary. Here are my picks for the five best books on fitness nutrition that will suit the gamut of active people whether high-performance competitive professionals, youth athletes, or recreational participants.

Advanced Sports Nutrition

1. Benardot, Dan. Advanced Sports Nutrition.

This encyclopedic reference is a go-to source that deals specifically with high performance athletes. It is based on current scientific nutritional research, explaining in clear, factual language the nutritional sources: carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins, mineral, fluids and electolytes. Benardot discusses how factors such as travel, high altitude, gender and age, and body composition and weight also affect nutritional needs. The book outlines strategies for specific metabolic systems that will support high intensity bursts and power for sprinters, endurance for marathoners, and power as well as endurance for athletes such as skaters, basketball players, golfers, and tennis players. The final part of the book gives nutrition plans, recipes, and training schedules for specific sports that will guide meal plans for competitors in the weeks leading up to competition day,

Advanced Sports Nutrition-2nd Edition
Advanced Sports Nutrition-2nd Edition

A comprehensive guidebook based on detailed science and current research for competitive athletes.


The author is a professor in human nutrition at Georgia State University and a licensed dietician. His nutritional expertise has supported Olympic gold-medalists and other national-level teams.

Baseball on the weekend
Baseball on the weekend | Source
Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook
Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook

Excellent overview in plain language for the busy family and career person who races or plays sports for fitness and fun.


Nutrition for Athletes

2. Clark, Nancy. Sports Nutrition Guidebook.

This is a comprehensive book aimed for busy people in business and family life who need to know how to eat well on the run and help their families eat well, too. Written in less academic style than Bernadot's book, it includes much of the same information in simpler, less scientific form. Practical and down-to-earth, Clark stresses that the best sources of nutrients are breakfast, lunch, dinner--ideally with foods as close to their unprocessed state as possible--nutritive snacks and water. She addresses topics such as special nutritional needs for pregnancy and for children, and realistic weight goals that are not skewed by false body images and eating disorders. The book includes approximately 80 pages of simple, healthy recipes.

The author is a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics whose private practice helps clients manage weight, enhance performance and resolve eating disorders. She is a competitive runner and recreational hiker, cyclist and rower.

Sports Nutrition For Young Athletes
Sports Nutrition For Young Athletes

Aimed for teen and youth athletes and their parents, this book explains in simple language the special nutritional needs for growing bodies. Great pictures.


Nutrition for Athletes Young and Growing

3. Bean, Anita. Sports Nutrition for Young Athletes.

This book is targeted for teens and parents of youth athletes. At less than 150 pages, with colour pictures of young athletes and short, bulleted sections on each page, it is very user friendly for its target audience. Written in a simple, accessible style, it's full of information without too many technical or complex details. It covers the basics of nutrition that young athletes need to know--eating regular meals including breakfast, snacking every two hours on unprocessed foods rich in fibre, vitamins and water, maintaining a realistic body image. Bean's book discusses the special nutritional needs that growing youth and teen bodies have to sustain bone density, lean muscle mass, and brain and organ development. This is a useful handbook to introduce active teens to the what and why of healthy nutrition for young athletes.

Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fifth Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food ... A-To-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies)
Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fifth Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food ... A-To-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies)

With a focus on natural remedies and nutrition to manage conditions or cure illnesses, this book is useful for athletes recovering from injuries or illness.


Nutritional Healing

4. Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Nutritional Healing.

This comprehensive treatment focuses on drug-free healing and managing chronic conditions through dietary intake of key nutrients including amino acids, anti-oxidants, minerals and vitamins. There are specific sections according to diseases and conditions, where the author discusses the importance of maintaining correct nutrition to maintain organ and immune system function even while appetite may wane during bouts of chemotherapy, radiation treatment or pain. Although it is targeted more for people managing chronic pain or medical conditions than for high-performance athletes, it nevertheless presents useful information for fitness buffs who may have injuries or illnesses.

Thrive Foods: 200 Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health
Thrive Foods: 200 Plant-Based Recipes for Peak Health

With over 200 plant-based recipes from world cuisine, this is a user-friedly book for the kitchen for active people who want to mange weight and improve energy with balanced, clean eating.


Whole Foods for Fitness Nutrition

5. Brazier, Brendan. Whole Foods to Thrive.

This includes more than 200 plant-based, appealing recipes for peak health. It is an Interesting, attractive book for the reader who wants a more plant-based diet to support fitness and a clean- eating lifestyle. Not geared for high performance athletes, it includes little comprehensive and anatomical or scientific research, but a variety of delicious world food vegetarian recipes.

Talk back

What are your fitness nutrition goals?

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    • Janis Goad profile image

      Janis Goad 5 years ago

      Thanks for commenting, GoodLady. I hope you are thriving!

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 5 years ago from Rome, Italy

      Thanks for the research into the books which are most useful.

      I'd be interested in buying Whole Foods to Thrive for the recipes!