A sports nutritionist is a specialized dietitian. He or she typically works with athletes to set up meal plans that provide the greatest possible benefits for performance. Sports nutritionists will specify these dietary regimens, based upon the athlete's body, the workout schedule, and the sport itself. Other factors, such as age, injury, conditioning, and gender will typically be considered by the nutritionist when devising the best possible diet for the athlete he or she works with.
Normally, a sports nutritionist will work as part of a dedicated professional fitness gym or will be employed directly by teams or individual athletes. The nutritionist will be expected to tailor any dietary plan to each individual situation. For instance, a football player needing to build muscle mass and keep weight on might get a high-protein diet from the nutritionist. A long-distance runner requiring a steady source of energy might be on a more carbohydrate-intensive plan. Nutritionists typically plan out the food schedules of the athletes they work with in minute detail, including any snacks or between-meal consumption.
A sports nutritionist will typically be required to have a bachelor’s degree in dietary science or a related field. The nutritionist will also normally seek to gain practical experience, working with fitness professionals at larger, more expensive gyms and wellness centers. As nutritionists gain experience and are able to demonstrate success, it is fairly typical for them to seek employment with teams or universities that have athletic departments. A nutritionist typically works regular business hours, but travel, fieldwork, and irregular hours for client visits and one-on-one sessions are to be expected.
Sports Nutritionist Tasks
Counsel individuals and groups on basic rules of good nutrition, healthy eating habits and nutrition monitoring.
Screen, assess and evaluate nutritional needs, diet restrictions and current health plans to develop and implement dietary-care plans and provide nutritional counseling.
May monitor food service operations to ensure conformance to nutritional, safety, sanitation and quality standards.
Advise patients and their families on nutritional principles, diet modifications, food selection and preparation.
Consult with physicians and health care staff to determine nutritional needs and diet restrictions of patient.