A sports nutritionist advises athletes on nutritional regimes that will allow for optimal performance and must understand the effects that foods have on the human body.
Those who work in sports nutrition study not only what types and quantities of foods and fluids should be consumed by an athlete, but also the particular organic substances that are most important for athletes competing in a given sport.
Sports nutritionists must develop eating regimes for athletes that properly balance the athlete’s intake of substances such as carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Nutrition is of vital importance for athletes in strength sports and in endurance sports like running and swimming.
People who work as sports nutritionists — or port dietitians — should advise athletes on which foods to structure their diets, given their body types, training routines, and athletic goals.
Typically, a sports nutritionist will work for colleges and athletic teams at the professional and Olympic levels. Each state typically has certification processes in place for those working as dietitians or nutritionists. However, the title of nutritionist is usually less strictly regulated than the title of dietitian.
Being a sports nutritionist is often a complex job that requires fundamental knowledge of not only nutrition but sports performance. The sports nutritionist must be prepared to consult with athletes not only about their ideal diet but also to serve them at the athlete’s desired peak of physical conditioning in a tailored dietary regime.
Athletes typically peak at a certain point in their time during their season or reach their highest level of performance. This peak of performance will be determined to some extent by dietary factors, and therefore the best sports nutritionists will have the skills to realize this peak through dietary intervention.
Requirements and skills required to become a sports nutritionist
An aspiring sports nutritionist must have completed a minimum undergraduate course of study in nutrition or a related field. However, sports nutritionists are going to be more competitive in the job market if they study up to the master’s degree level.
Not only are there often educational requirements for positions as sports nutritionists, but there are often professional certifications and associations that may be necessary for professionals to consider positions as a curriculum. Several professional associations relevant to those working as sports nutritionists include the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Association of Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutritionists, and therefore the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
People who are successful as sports nutritionists must be willing to think creatively and create their own unique solutions to individual problems. They should have good people skills and should be ready to clearly explain sometimes complex concepts in simple language.
Their ability to build relationships with their clients will prove to be the deciding factor in their career success. While a fundamental knowledge of scientific issues related to health and nutrition is important, social skills are also of prime importance for a sports nutritionist to build credibility and establish a reputation as an authority within the field.