It’s not hard to find lots of athletes out there who fall apart during a race because their nutrition plan didn’t work…or they didn’t have a nutrition plan to begin with or they trusted their coach who advised a generic 350 calories per hour. Thanks to social media and the bazillion websites that offer free nutrition advice, athletes can spend gobs of time soliciting their friends for advice, reading what the elites do, and trusting the mainstream magazines to get their nutrition guidance.
Unfortunately, it is not very common that the advice given is appropriate for YOU. While it’s true that the authors of some ‘expert’ sports nutrition advice can include sports medicine doctors, university professors, and well-respected coaches, there is plenty of nutrition advice given by so-called “nutritionists”, coaches, and other health professionals who really have no credentials, formal nutrition education, or know the unique needs of athletes.
So, where are you getting your sports nutrition information? Is it safe and supportive of your health and performance goals? Is it current and does it apply to you? Is it working? Is someone just trying to sell you a product?
If you’re not 100% certain you are getting trustworthy information, here is a tip to help you: Seek out a board certified specialist in sports nutrition (the official acronym for the credential is “CSSD”) or find a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who also has an exercise science degree and one who focuses on sports nutrition. How can one of these experts help you? Here are just a few ways:
- provide education and guidance on daily nutrition patterns to support your health and sport performance goals
- periodize (or “adjust”) daily and training nutrition to support the body’s needs during different training cycles
- develop and refine hydration and electrolyte strategies
- evaluate dietary supplements, sports nutrition products and ergogenic aids; make recommendations appropriate for your health status and your performance goals
- utilize appropriate behavior change strategies so that the changes you make are sustained
- create race day nutrition, hydration, and recovery plans
- provide education and tips on how to grocery shop, plan and prepare meals and snacks
- individualize nutrition patterns for those who have medical conditions such as diabetes and heart disease
- interpret the latest sports nutrition research… from the source, not from magazine articles
- and some Sport Dietitians are athletes, so they practice what they preach!
What are the benefits you receive from a Sport Dietitian? Here are a few:
- optimized nutrition to support improved health and sport performance, a healthy body weight and improved body composition
- nutrition models (or meal plans) to follow throughout the training cycles to support your energy needs
- avoidance of over- or under- hydrating during training and racing
- if you have a Sport Dietitian fluent in “metabolic efficiency training”, you will see an improvement in your body’s ability to utilize fatty acids for fuel and a decreased risk of gastrointestinal distress (vomiting, bloating, cramping, diarrhea) during training and racing
- trusted, expert advice on healthful and safe ways to enhance your training, performance, recovery...especially from Sport Dietitians who are also athletes!
- long-term success
- you spend less time trying to decipher all of the sports nutrition philosophies in the media
- new personal bests at your races
Hopefully this helps you see more of what Sport Dietitian do and their value. Think about the potential benefits as you think of next year’s goals. You just might realize a Sport Dietitian is what you need to get to the next level in your health and performance goals.