I deliberately asked this question: https://fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/448/crash-2-3-hours-after-eating-pasta-is-this-unusual just outside of what seems comfortably on topic, aiming for "wellness related". It didn't get closed, but I'm not the only person a little uncomfortable with it.

If I had instead posed the query "I read here I should eat pasta 1-3 hours before exercise, but I'm lucky if I'm actually awake 2 hours after eating pasta. What gives?" there would be no question it were on topic.

Including nutrition in the site title of the site almost seems to imply such topics as "What should I feed a colicky baby to reduce gas?" are okay when it seems they are not.

On the other hand, in Are questions on recipes aceptable? @RobertCartaino suggests:

My stomach cannot handle citrus fruits but where else can I get my Vitamin C? — On topic

So, general nutrition questions are on topic nor not? If not I think it should be taken out of the title of the site.

Also, if not, does adding a superficial reference to fitness make it on topic? eg: "I'm a speed swimmer and my stomach cannot handle citrus fruits but where else can I get my Vitamin C?" And if not then, what is the difference between a constructive association between nutrition and fitness and a superficial one?

  • @Robert feels quite strongly about this belonging in the scope, as fitness also aims at general fitness or wellbeing. I'd prefer if it at least requires a vague relation towards exercising, because it makes the site more coherent and defines the boundaries of the site much better than it is right now – Ivo Flipse Mar 5 '11 at 18:03
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    I don't disagree, I think the site title makes the purpose of the site more vague. I get the impression nutrition really means en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sports_nutrition here, but "Fitness and Nutrition" makes it sound like it's a general health/wellness site. – mootinator Mar 5 '11 at 18:34
  • nutrition = sports nutrition and dieting, rather. – mootinator Mar 5 '11 at 18:52
  • perhaps the title should say "Fitness and Sports Nutrition" – James Mertz Mar 5 '11 at 20:11
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    I think the site will specialize too much if it tries to limit the nutrition questions. – Chris S Mar 5 '11 at 20:35
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    If nutrition is part of being fit, then it doesn't have to be in the name of the site to be part of the scope. As for specializing, there are so many forms of exercise in the world, that I simply cannot agree with that statement @Chris S – Ivo Flipse Mar 5 '11 at 22:23
  • was anything decided from this question? – Doug T. Mar 9 '11 at 17:59
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    @DougT Judging by close votes, I'd say it's necessary to explicitly draw out the (sometimes obvious) relationship between your nutrition question and either diet or sports nutrition in order for it to be acceptable. I'm still not sure the site is named correctly in that fitness implies some nutrition, but F&N suggests all nutrition. – mootinator Mar 9 '11 at 18:07

This is the exact reason why we are in private beta. It is up to us committed users to truly define the bounds of the site. With regards to this question, and all other nutrition related questions, we have to decided now what is on-topic and what isn't. If we don't have a clear mindset of what this site is about, then when it opens to the public, lot's of clutter and 'fluff' will come and we won't know what to do.

Here are the two sides that I see:

Case #1: Nutritional topics are on-topic no matter their subject or background.

This means that any well structured, and clearly written question regarding nutrition, even if it doesn't relate to any sort of fitness subject, is accepted. Example questions are:

Note: some of these are not clearly written or of good quality, which is somewhat my point but there are future questions about nutrition that may be of good quality that fits within this criteria

Case #2: Nutritional topics are on-topic if an only if they relate to strength, endurance, agility, and cardiovascular fitness.

This means that we limit nutritional related questions to be within the bounds of fitness. Some example questions of these are:

The issue that I see here is that without setting definite bounds for the 'nutritional' questions that are on-topic, we will get questions that in essence have nothing to do with fitness, causing a 'divide' in the site.

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    I would lean towards case 2 but if so we should rename the site to "physical fitness" or something in order to discourage the general nutrition questions. – Doug T. Mar 6 '11 at 18:05
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    In addition to renaming the site, we would also need to change the wording in the FAQ to remove the term "wellness". I actually feel fairly strongly that it should be case 1, but I get the impression that I'm in the minority on this and if we're going to go case 2, we should be very clear & consistent. – G__ Mar 6 '11 at 20:22
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    @Greg I feel that a re-write of the FAQ is necessary in either case. And case 1 is not a terrible idea, but can lead to some really general questions that we may not want on the site. – James Mertz Mar 6 '11 at 22:45
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    I think perhaps a good compromise would be questions relating to "human performance". It's broad enough to include the kinds of questions and answers that we need on the site, but I think it might avoid some of the obvious garbage questions... – G__ Mar 6 '11 at 23:45
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    Chalk me up for #2. I think nutrition questions are fine only if they're fitness related. I have no interest in participating in a general health SX. – eevar Jul 15 '11 at 21:08

I vote yes for on-topic. Does this also fall under general health? Yes. But it's impossible to separate nutrition, exercise, and fitness in a meaningful way.

Post-meal energy level may not be directly correlated to a workout or athletic competition, but there are obvious indirect correlations. It's pretty hard to have a good workout if energy levels are low. Further, low energy level (due to poor nutrition) can get into a vicious cycle of sugar craving.

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    There's a very clear separation: if you don't exercise, you're eating habits are not on-topic for this site. I don't have a problem with a broad scope of exercise, so even Nordic walking or yoga should be on-topic. But allowing any nutritional question doesn't have any relation with fitness or physical exercise whatsoever. – Ivo Flipse Mar 5 '11 at 22:28
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    @Ivo - I don't understand why the requirement for exercise being mentioned in a given question. Not everything to do with fitness and physical performance is tied to exercise. I would feel the same about a question on how to get more effective sleep. – G__ Mar 5 '11 at 22:35
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    @Ivo Whether or not a user exercises is completely irrelevant. #1, it would be it be invasive to ask or expect that info to be provided. #2, users who don't exercise can still ask questions about food and exercise (maybe they want to get started, or are asking for a friend, or just want to know). I would also challenge your statement that not all nutrition questions relate to fitness or exercise. What aspect of nutrition does not affect fitness or exercise, exactly? If the question is not concerned with it, that's a different issue; your statement is false. – Matthew Read Mar 11 '11 at 18:54
  • @Matthew, while I've swayed a little bit regarding nutrition after having a talk with Robert, I still think some common sense is needed. My concerns have already been raised at Cooking.SE as you can read here. Furthermore, I do think that allowing any kind of nutritional question (without some requirement of quality) opens the flood gates towards Yahoo Answers type of answers. But probably we should have this talk on chat @Matthew Read – Ivo Flipse Mar 11 '11 at 21:17

Considering the original intent of this proposal was "Exersize and Fitness", I would venture to say that those of us participating in this site can be summed up as "people who want to stay in shape" or "experts who want to help others stay in shape". Staying in shape is arguably the theme of the site.

As such I don't think we're truly equipped to answer all general nutrition questions, and should be solely focussed on exercise and possibly weight-loss nutrition. I fear that the community wouldn't do a good job of answering questions such as:

  • What should I eat to improve my vision?
  • What should I feed my newborn baby? Should I breastfeed or formula feed?
  • What should I eat so I don't feel groggy in the morning?
  • What should I eat when I'm pregnant?

As such I would be much more comfortable with this site being entitled "Physical Fitness" with related nutrition questions on topic. General nutrition questions having nothing to do with staying in shape would therefore be off topic.

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    I think we should be relatively lenient on nutrition questions even if the goal is performance-oriented nutrition just because the body is such a complex system that I think it's artificial (and wrong) to try to separate these ideas cleanly. Improving vision? Tied to performance in many sports. Not feeling groggy? Tied to energy level (for a good workout), also probably tied to circadian rhythms, which are tied to hormonal state (adrenal system in particular), which is tied to muscle growth and fat loss... – G__ Mar 6 '11 at 20:26
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    @Greg you can really tie just about anything to something else... the point here is to make those lines, and clearly draw them up. – James Mertz Mar 6 '11 at 23:18
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    @KronoS - understand, and I'm pushing for a more expansive and inclusive set of lines. I've seen other SE sites that never seem to get off the ground because of too much "focus". For example, quant.stackexhange.com (in public beta) has just received its first new question in 4 days. They have been pretty draconian in restricting/reducing scope, and I have to believe those things are related. – G__ Mar 6 '11 at 23:26
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    While I'd cheer for a broader SE-site, I would find it comforting if we had actual dietitians on board to answer these nutritional questions. Because the last thing I'd want to see is enthusiast being mistaken for experts. – Ivo Flipse Mar 7 '11 at 8:33
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    @IvoFlipse but at what line to we draw the 'expert' to 'enthusiast'. This site is kinda special in the topic, but the same as all others. Some, if not most, are really enthusiasts and not experts in these fields. We just know what works for us, and know where to look for answers. – James Mertz Mar 7 '11 at 15:29
  • Just because most of us are enthusiasts, doesn't mean there aren't any experts :-) It just means they're not using the site at this moment @Kronos – Ivo Flipse Mar 7 '11 at 15:32
  • @Ivo "Just because most of us are enthusiasts, doesn't mean there aren't any experts" -- how does that not apply to nutritionists? And an enthusiast can provide well-sourced information that comes from experts. – Matthew Read Mar 11 '11 at 18:58
  • They can, but at the moment in most nutritional questions this is not the case. If you have well-sourced information, make sure you share it with us and not just post the conclusion (which is what I'm seeing a lot right now) @Matthew Read – Ivo Flipse Mar 11 '11 at 21:07

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