There is a Need For Sports Nutrition
Consuming food is a fundamental part of human existence. Our bodies constantly convert food into energy to fuel basic bodily functions. It’s easy to see the correlation between what we put into our bodies and how we perform on a daily basis.
What happens when we factor in exercise and athletic competition?
While protein intake might not matter for the average person playing a game of backyard hoops, athletes who train and compete need to take extra care of their nutritional needs. It takes unique training and a comprehensive understanding of nutrition and sports science to address an athlete’s unique needs.
That’s where sports nutrition comes into play. A sports nutritionist can help athletes at all levels refine their diets to support daily training and competition schedules.
What is Sports Nutrition?
While nutrition matters to everybody, athletes push their bodies harder and more frequently than the average person. They need proper fuel to support the strain on their bodies. Sports nutrition focuses on providing athletes with the nutrients and energy they need to perform their best, reduce the risk of injury, and increase endurance.
Sports nutrition meets an athlete’s dietary needs to help them perform their best. It factors in an athlete’s individual training goals while addressing their unique body composition, including any deficiencies.
Given the increase in athletes competing at every level of the game, it’s no wonder that there is a growing need for dietitians and nutritionists. As more athletes seek to gain a natural, competitive edge, the need for those who understand sports nutrition will expand even further.
How Sports Nutrition Differs from Fitness Nutrition
Though fitness nutrition and sports nutrition sound similar, they are slightly different. Fitness nutrition is a general guideline of nutritional goals for the average person to sustain typical bodily functions and physical fitness. Common factors include caloric intake and the amounts of various macronutrients, like proteins and fats.
Sports nutrition takes things a step further by addressing the difference between athletes and the average person. Athletes burn more calories, require more water to stay hydrated, and need to replace more energy to sustain their muscles.
Aside from addressing the types of foods and drinks an athlete ingests, sports nutrition also considers timing and fitness goals. For example, scheduling meals appropriately can boost performance for a competition or help recover faster from a workout.
The Role of Sports Nutrition in Sports
Nutrition science is a critical part of sports performance because it considers everything from protein intake to the athlete’s body composition. A sports nutritionist can help athletes reach their fitness and performance goals and address medical concerns.
Have you ever had an athlete ask how many calories they need to eat to perform their best? Maybe you already knew the answer or just made your best guess based on something you read. The truth is that the answer should vary depending on multiple factors.
A college point guard won’t have the same requirements as a high school cross country runner because each sport is different. Basketball requires endurance but recruits muscles differently from cross country, and that’s not even accounting for individual differences like weight and metabolism.
Sports nutrition supports athletes across all sports and levels. The youngest athletes can learn healthier habits and eat foods that support healthy growth and development as much as endurance and performance. Advanced athletes can leverage dietary choices to maximize their endurance and recover faster.
Sports Nutrition for Personal Trainers
Personal trainers often focus on the gym in terms of weights and reps. That approach ignores a crucial factor in training and might be counterproductive. Having conversations with your athletes about what they eat and drink can yield better gains and give you an edge over the competition.
Factoring in nutritional needs adds depth and substance to your offerings as a personal trainer. Just monitoring an athlete’s intake during your sessions leaves too much to chance. Discussing what they have before and after workouts can help you assess any shortcomings and refine their program to make greater gains.
Sports Nutrition for Health Professionals
Nutrition education in medical school is shockingly inadequate. Health professionals can benefit from additional resources and certifications, especially those who work with athletes.
It’s easy to dismiss some routine physical issues, like allergies and erratic menstrual cycles, but it could suggest nutritional deficiencies in the athletes. Health professionals who complete additional certifications in sports nutrition can better serve their patients and address chronic medical concerns that could otherwise derail a career.
Sports Nutrition for Coaches
Good coaches understand every element of the game and constantly seek out ways to help their players improve. Great coaches understand that there is more to success than physical activity, and that includes nutrition.
While many professional sports teams have nutritionists on staff, that’s not always the case for college players or younger athletes. That means coaches play a critical role in teaching young athletes the importance of sports nutrition on their athletic performance and overall well-being.
Coaches with a strong understanding of sports nutrition can help athletes maintain their desired weight in a healthy way. They can encourage team bonding through healthy meals and serve as a valuable resource for young athletes seeking a natural, safe way to boost performance.
Why Coaches Should Study Sports Nutrition
A coach’s work is never done. Many coaches wear multiple hats throughout an athletic season and beyond, so why not add a sports nutritionist hat to the mix? Adding in a sports nutrition course might seem like overkill, but it might be the most important thing you do as a coach.
Becoming a certified sports nutritionist can enhance your relationship with your team and lead to better results during training and competition. It’s an excellent way to enhance your skillset and become a more effective coach.
With a better understanding of sports nutrition, you can offer your athletes the support they need to be more successful. It can help you understand individual players’ needs to reduce injuries and downtime. Plus, for those who coach younger athletes, it could be the difference between a career cut short and a long, healthy one.
Become a Certified Sports Nutrition Specialist
Are you interested in earning a certification in sports nutrition? Our Essentials of Exercise & Sports Nutrition Certification Course can help you support the athletes in your life.