I first read Eat Smart, Play Hard after the Beach to Beacon. I read the first 2/3 of the book over again this past January. The book offers a more balanced look at nutrition and takes into account all of the latest research (as of 2001) as it pertains to athletes and weekend warriors, rather than the average couch potato. Eat Smart, Play Hard is divided into three parts: Fueling basics, foods, and meal plans.
The first seven chapters go over the basics. The government food guide pyramid is compared to what a fit person’s food pyramid should look like, which is broken into nine food groups:
- Carbohydrate-Packed Foods
- Protein Powerhouses
- Calcium-Rich Foods
- Healthful Fats
- Healthful Snacks
- Junk Food
Some time is spent explaining the differences in meal preparation for people that exercise in the morning, at noon, or in the evening. The majority of this section explains how and what to eat before, during, and after exercise.
The second section discusses the latest research and offers up sample foods, products, and supplements with the author’s thoughts on their usefulness in the diet of an athlete. The foods section lists foods that should be worked into anybody’s diet, with some example meal plans tailored to the time of day that you workout. The products chapter discusses the sorts of things you will find in energy bars and gels, and what to look for when purchasing or testing them. The last chapter of this section discusses 23 popular supplements, many of which are not worth their price or have not had enough research done on them to warrant using yet.
There are customized meal plans for a half dozen different physical activities as well as for other types of goals such as losing/gaining weight or boosting your immunity. This section is great because it is really targetted at what somebody is trying to do. Some of the sports included are playing a good game of golf, running a marathon, riding a century, or hiking all day.
Eat Smart, Play Hard has average skimmability for the first two sections with ultra-targetting for the last third of the book. There are sample recipes and meal plans sprinkled throughout the book, along with the fairly standard sidebars with questions and answers, research, and news.
I found this book to be much more useful than Eat to be Fit, since it was not trying to sell a service or a specific coaching plan and had specific information for more than just the crowd that is looking to lose weight. The information in Eat Smart, Play Hard is (rightfully so) much more comprehensive than the nutrition section of The New Rules of Lifting, and would make a great complement to it.