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 completing at a given sport. Sports nutritionist 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 important for athletes in strength sports and in endurance sports like running and swimming.
Those who work as sports nutritionists – or ports dietitians – must advise athletes on what foods should make up their diets given their particular body types, training routines, and athletic goals. Typically, a sports nutritionist will work for colleges and athletic teams on the professional and Olympic level. Each state usually has certification procedures for those working as dietitians or nutritionists. However, the title of nutritionist is often less strictly regulated than the title dietitian.
Being a sports nutritionist can be complicated work that requires a thorough knowledge of not only nutrition, but also sports performance. Sports nutritionists must be able to not only consult with athletes regarding their ideal diet, but they must also be able to work the athlete’s desired peak of physical conditioning into the devised dietary regime. Athletes typically need to peak, or reach their highest level of performance, at a given point of time during their season. This peak of performance will to some extent be determined by dietary factors, and the best sports nutritionist will know how to achieve this peak through dietary measures.
Requirements and Necessary Skills for Being a Sports Nutritionist
An aspiring sports nutritionist will probably need to complete at least a bachelor’s degree program in nutrition or in a related field. However, sports nutritionists will be more competitive on the job market if they study through the master’s degree level. Not only are there often academic requirements to positions as sports nutritionists, but there are often also professional certifications and associations that professionals may need to have to be considered for certain positions. Some of the professional associations relevant to those working as sports nutritionists include the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Sports, Cardiovascular and Wellness Nutritionist Association, and the International Society of Sports Nutrition.
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Those who succeed as sports nutritionists need to be able to think creatively and create their own unique solutions to individual problems. They need to have good people skills and be able to clearly explain sometimes complex concepts in simple language. Their ability to build relationships with their clientele will prove decisive in the success of their careers. While a thorough knowledge of the subject matter of health and scientific issues pertaining to nutrition is important, social skills are also of major importance to a sports nutritionist for building up credibility and establishing a reputation as an authority in the field.