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Posted on Wed, Mar 16, 2011 : 8:34 p.m.

Athletes can chew on this: The 'right' diet is the one that's tailored just for you

By Melissa Gerharter MS, RD

This past weekend I attended a SCAN (Sports, cardiovascular, and wellness nutrition) symposium. I was honored to be among thought leaders in the area of sports nutrition, including Louise Burke PhD, APD, FACSM; John Ivy, PhD; and Michael F. Roizen, MD, to name just a few.

As I sat in sessions for 10 hours for two days gathering as much information as I could retain from the experts, I started to hear contradictions in research. Some say to add proteins for refueling after an intense workout, while others are saying just carbohydrates are enough to replenish glycogen and repair muscles. Some say to “train low” while others say to “train high."

I started to wonder what makes the best sense for the athletes that I counsel on their nutrition. It started to make me really frustrated that nobody had the answer.

It was then that I realized that nobody had the answer, and they weren’t pretending to have it, either. They were presenting information that they had tested and how it worked for them as a coach or athlete.

I realize now that I can take all the information that the experts spent their energy compiling or testing and make decisions on what is going to work best for specific athletes and their situations. There isn’t a cookie-cutter formula that fits every single person.

The important thing is to work with the athlete as a team. Communicating with them what their goals are, how they train and why they train — together we can build the nutrition plans that will work for them as individuals so that they can cross their finish lines to the best of their abilities.

This holds true for everyone who is looking for a healthier diet. Whether you’re an athlete or not, your diet has to work with your current situation and your future goals.

You improve the likelihood of success by working with an expert — someone who has devoted her life to nutrition science, not just a simple “nutritionist.” An expert can help you make sense of the best research available and put a plan together that’s just right for you.

Melissa Gerharter MS, RD is co-owner of Joust Strength and Fitness of Ann Arbor, She is also a personal trainer and an adjunct lecturer at Eastern Michigan University. She can be reached at