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From The CriticsReviewer: C. Murray Ardies, PhD (Northeastern Illinois University)
Description: This multiauthored book covers exercise physiology, exercise principles, and basic and applied nutrition in three main sections, followed by two smaller sections on specific supplements and more general dietary (or macronutrient) recommendations.
Purpose: According to the editors, the purpose is to present credible and research-based information, validated sports nutrition protocols, and the latest scientific information in one book to serve as the single best resource for professionals. While this would be a worthy objective for any book, in this case, the objectives may not be entirely necessary, nor are they always met.
Audience: With a list of specific learning objectives at the beginning of each chapter and a series of questions at the end, the book is clearly designed for university students at the undergraduate level. The editors target the book generally at "anyone interested in the field" and specifically at students of exercise physiology, dietetics, and fitness. Many of the six editors and 33 authors are PhDs in academic positions.
Features: Classic topics in exercise physiology are covered, such as metabolic pathways for ATP synthesis, molecular basis of muscle contraction, the physiological and metabolic response to both acute and chronic exercise, as are newer areas of molecular biology and endocrinology. The chapter on endocrinology is particularly appealing because of its currency and breadth. The general nutrition concepts of digestion and absorption and use of macronutrients are well covered. In the nutrition section, the chapter on sports supplements provides the best information by far on a variety of supplements not normally discussed in other sports nutrition books, while the chapters on creatine and nutrition before, during, and after exercise are particularly well written and up to date with their applications to exercise. Unfortunately, other chapters in the exercise section are somewhat disappointing because of the many illustrations that came from earlier books written by other authors, some of which include outdated information. For example, just once I would like to see a current exercise physiology book follow the stoichiometric concepts of ATP synthesis agreed on by biochemists over a decade ago that, based on hydrogen cost, each NADH yields a theoretical maximum of ~2.5 ATP (and not the 3 ATP listed in this book), and, based on the function of the calcium uniport and the mitochondrial permeability transition and on alterations in membrane integrity during metabolic stress, getting the 2.5 is impossible. The chapter on molecular biology of exercise and nutrition is very disappointing because, although it does a very good job of describing the basic information of the field of molecular biology, there is so little molecular information relating specifically to exercise and none to nutrition that it makes me wonder why the chapter title includes the terms "exercise and nutrition."
Assessment: This book suffers from the same major drawback of almost all first-edition, multiauthored books: there seems to be little integration of exercise-related and nutrition-related information throughout the book, and in many cases it appears that some of the chapters are written by authors who had little knowledge of what the other chapters contained. The lack of integration is exemplified by the first chapter on biochemistry and metabolism (a nutritional topic if there ever was one) and the chapter on molecular biology of exercise and nutrition, with both saying little to nothing of nutrition. In addition, there are awkwardly contradictory conclusions by some of the nutrition authors, with some asserting that nutritional supplements don't appear to improve performance and others making blanket statements that nutritional supplementation improves performance. There are other books that do a far better job of integrating the nutritional concepts with the exercise concepts. The book that immediately comes to mind is Exercise Physiology: Theory and Application to Fitness and Performance, 7th edition, Powers and Howley (McGraw-Hill, 2008), which is equally comprehensive in the exercise science areas, is more up to date in some of the science, is far better illustrated (and in color), and does a much better job of integrating the nutrition content with the exercise concepts, with the result that it is much easier to understand this complicated information.