ISSA SN Chapter 16: Dietary Guidelines for Americans

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Chapter Goals:

  • Describe and define the terms that relate to the dietary guidelines for Americans.
  • Be able to talk about the main elements of eating healthy. 
  • Find the dietary shifts needed to align with the viewed healthy eating patterns. 
  • Find the points you should consider for approaches to sports nutrition applications.
  • Know the DASH diet’s main points and its health benefits. 


The dietary guidelines are not specifically put forth for sports nutrition practices, but they are useful for just standard health and more so in the off-season for athletes. This helps athletes to develop healthy eating practices that will carry throughout life. 

Why Dietary Guidelines?

These guidelines’ main purpose is to provide information regarding the development of federal health, food, and nutrition policies and programs. The main audiences here will be the policymakers and the professionals in health and nutrition; it is not so much for the general public. 

Dietary guidelines are critical for professionals to help people make healthier choices concerning their meals and prevent chronic disease. 

We also use these guidelines in ways that make the school meal programs offered nationwide. This is implemented to feed more than 30 million kids every day. 

In other programs, these guidelines are put forth to inform older adult care facilities on how they should have their meals. This makes up a million or more meals per day throughout the US. 

Dietary Guidelines

There are five main elements of the guidelines:

First, you should follow a healthy and consistent eating pattern throughout your lifespan. All of your choices in food and beverages will make a difference. When you choose an eating pattern that is healthy and at the right caloric level, it will help you achieve a healthy weight, support nutrient needs, and reduce the risks of chronic disease. 

Second, focus on your variety of foods, the nutrient density of those foods, and the amount that you take in. this is important for meeting your needs regarding calories, choosing a variety of nutrient dense foods throughout the food groups in the recommended amounts.

Third, there should be a limit on the number of calories you get from sugars that are added in processing and the saturated fats and sodium levels. Eating patterns that are low in these three things will be much healthier for you. You should reduce the foods and beverages with these in their makeup. Sports nutrition programs might benefit from these in the form of the sports drinks we take in. this is extremely true for sodium due to the losses incurred during sweating and working out. 

Fourth, we should shift to choices in healthier foods and beverages as we progress through changing our lifestyles. The foods we choose should ideally be very nutrient dense, and the beverages should also be. Cultural and personal preference will play a role here, but it is not too challenging to compromise and search for things that fit your preference and goals. 

Fifth, we should support a healthy eating pattern for all. Everyone has a role in helping create and support a healthy eating pattern in multiple settings nationwide, from homes to schools, work, and communities. 

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Key Recommendations: Components of Healthy Eating Patterns

The recommendations should be applied in their entirety, given the relationship that they have with each other. 

Key recommendations include:

  • Varieties of veggies from all of the subgroups, such as dark green, red, orange, legumes, and starchy or other veggies.
  • Fruits and more so the ones that are whole fruits.
  • Grains, at least the ones that are whole grains.
  • Fat free and low fat dairy products like milk, yogurt, cheese, and some fortified soy drinks.
  • A great variety in the proteins that we take in. we should have things like seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, legumes, and other plant protein products such as nuts.
  • Oils.

Healthy eating pattern limits:

  • We should do our best to limit the saturated fats, trans fats, added sugars, and sodium. 
  • Some healthy eating pattern ideas to stay within calorie limits are:
  • Consume less than 10 percent of calories every day from sugars added in.
  • Eat less the 10 percent of daily calories in saturated fats. 
  • Consume less than 2,300 mg of sodium each day.
  • If you take in any alcohol, it should be in moderate amounts one drink for women and two drinks for men.

Dash Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)

DASH is balanced and flexible in its diet approach that helps to achieve heart healthy eating for life. 

The DASH plan has no special foods and instead focuses on daily and weekly goals for nutrition. The plan includes things like:

  • Eating veggies, fruits, and whole grains.
  • Try to include low fat and fat free dairy products, fish, chicken, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils. 
  • Limiting the foods that are high in saturated fats like the fatty meats, full fat dairy products, and tropical oils like coconut, palm kernel, and palm oils. 
  • Limiting the sugary beverages and sweets taken in. 

Daily DASH eating plan goals for a goal based on 2,000 calories:

  • Grains should be 6 – 8 servings each day.
  • Meats poultry and fish should be 6 or less servings per day.
  • Fruit should be 4 – 5 servings every day.
  • Low fat or fat free dairy should be taken in around 2 – 3 servings daily.
  • Fats and oils should be 2 – 3 servings per day.
  • Sodium should be 2,300 mg or less each day.
  • Nuts, seeds, dry beans, and peas should be around 4 – 5 servings weekly.
  • Sweets should be 5 or fewer servings per day. 

Health Benefits of the DASH Eating Plan – Study Results

The DASH diet is seen to lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol when compared to the typical American diet.

The DASH diet is seen to lower blood pressure more so than the average daily diet, which has much more than the recommendations.

People seem to lose weight and lower blood pressure together with this diet.

ISSA SN Chapter 16: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 4
ISSA SN Chapter 16: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 5
ISSA SN Chapter 16: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 6

Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read

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