What Does A Sports Nutritionist Do?
Sports nutritionists are professionals who work to provide athletes with the nutritional advice they need to help them achieve optimum performance. They work with athletes in the collegiate or professional level who now realize the role that their food intake plays in enabling them to reach their sports goals. With their knowledge, they help athletes maximize their strength during training and especially during competition so that they can give their best during competitions.
Sports nutritionists are experts at preparing balanced meals for athletes. They advise them on the quantity of fluids they should drink and what supplements to take to bring out the best in their physical performance. They know how to formulate meal plans that clients can follow depending on where they are in their preparation for an athletic event.
They have sports nutrition down to a science that they know what meals athletes should take before and after each training activity and what to eat before and after an exceptionally heavy burst of energy, such as during intense competitions. Professional athletes who make a living with the sports they play may need to stay true to the diet regimens prepared by their sports nutritionists on a daily basis year-round so they can stay at the top of their game.
When sports nutritionists first see clients, they talk with them first to determine what their activities are. They would then counsel them on what their nutritional needs are based on the energy they expend in their activities. Professional athletes usually need to follow more rigorous training schedules than amateur or collegiate athletes. They would then come up with menu plans that would fit their needs.
Through the programs prepared by sports nutritionists, athletes are able to maintain appropriate levels of body mass, fat and muscle that would enable them to stay healthy and achieve their best in every activity. They help athletes understand hydration protocols and address issues some athletes may face, including iron deficiency anemia, food allergies, bone mineral disorders and gastrointestinal problems. They also work with athletes suffering from various medical conditions and help them recover from sickness or injury through medical nutrition therapy.
For athletes who need supplementation, they review the nutritional and herbal supplements to determine which ones are safe, legal and effective. They recommend dosages and monitors how athletes use them. Sports nutritionists also educate athletes on matters like food purchasing, storage and preparation. They may conduct cooking classes to demonstrate how recipes should be prepared.
Aside from working with individual athletes, sports nutritionists may also be hired by sports teams where they serve as their nutritional care coordinator. When working with teams, they come up with teaching materials to be distributed to the members of the team. They also see to it that the food that is served to the athletes while they are on the road—such as when they are staying in hotels or in airlines—are in accordance with their nutritional needs. If all members of the team are taking particular nutritional supplements, sports nutritionists are responsible for buying and distributing these among them. As an integral part of the team, they also encourage athletes to share feelings and concerns through regular forums aimed at promoting cohesiveness among team members.
Sports nutritionists do not just stop at providing meal plans to their clients. They also monitor them to determine if the plans they have made are enabling athletes to achieve their peak physical performance or are slowing them down. If the latter seems to be the case, sports nutritionists can make adjustments to the menus they have made the athletes follow.
Continued professional development is a must for all sports nutritionists. They need to attend professional seminars, workshops, development programs or pursue more courses that would enhance their knowledge about nutrition and dietetics. Sports nutritionists need to know how to translate their scientific knowledge into practical recommendations that athletes can use. They also have to keep their dietetic registration licenses up-to-date by complying with all the requirements of the certifying agencies.