Sports Nutrition Certification - Eat to Win!
Big Breakthroughs in Sports Nutrition
Since the advent of sporting events, athletes have not only been coached on athletic performance training strategies, but also on how to eat to win – not necessarily all good. The big breakthrough in sports nutrition can be found in the late 1930’s when Sweden began studying the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats for the improvement of athletic performance. Since then, athletes and coaches have looked to sports nutrition specialists for insight and guidance on how to eat to maximize performance.
The opportunities in the field of sports nutrition are immense given this massive demand. Sports Nutrition is a dynamic area of science that continues to grow and flourish and with that, it is important to understand how to support our athletes and also what guidelines need to be followed.
When working with athletes, it is important to understand their energy consumption needs, what the appropriate time is to ingest specific nutrients and the amount in relation to the intensity and duration of their activity. Inappropriate macronutrient intake can lead to low energy, muscle mass loss, hormone disruption, decreased bone density, injury and illness along with an impaired ability to heal.
There is not a “one size fits all” nutrition guideline. Nutrition needs for each individual athlete would depend on body type, composition (body fat to muscle mass %), gender, age and of course event type. Prior to beginning a nutrition plan for any person, it is important to have his/her exact body composition. Dexa scans are the gold standard and highly recommended.
Nutrition programs should begin long before an event or competition season is to start. This would be especially true if your clients need to decrease their body fat percentage significantly. Trying to decrease body fat during a competitive season will severely impact the athlete’s ability to perform.
Carbohydrates are a crucial part of any nutrition plan in order to fuel the brain and body. Sports nutritionists recommend carbohydrate intake should range from 3 to10 g/kg on average to 12g/kg for extended events. Carbohydrate ingestion is cycled throughout the season depending on which training phase the athlete is in according to the amount of exercise they are performing.
Recommendations for protein intake typically range from 1.2 to 2.0 g/kg/day. It is recommended that this protein intake occur over the course of the day with its biggest ingestion occurring post-workout, usually in the form of a protein shake and subsequent meal.
For most athletes, fat intakes typically range from 20% to 35% of total energy intake. Consuming ≤20% of energy intake from fat does not seem to benefit performance and extreme restriction of fat intake tends to affect health. Claims that extremely high-fat, low carbohydrate diets provide a benefit to the performance of competitive athletes are not supported by current literature.
A primary goal of competition nutrition is to address nutrition-related factors that may limit performance and also enhance growth and recovery. Knowing how to personalize an athlete’s diet can only be done through additional education and practical application. A good starting point for any personal trainer or athlete is to take a foundational course in sports nutrition.
Enhance Sports Nutrition Knowledge
For those interested in enhancing their sports nutrition knowledge base and providing an additional service to clients, check out Infofit Educators on-line Principles of Sports Nutrition course (PSN) or Certified Sports Nutrition Advisor certification.