Judith Haudum

Sports Nutrition: More Than Powders, Gels, and Pills.

In the eyes of many, sports nutrition is a discipline built on supplements and sports nutrition products: protein powders, performance-enhancing substances, sports drinks, and energy bars. This is a common response you get when asking people what they believe sports nutrition is. Then there's another group that believes sports nutrition counseling is only for those who have some issue: they are too heavy, they need to gain weight, they have allergies or intolerances, their blood values are poor, or they have an eating disorder. However, the scope of sports nutrition encompasses much more than that. Sports nutrition is a discipline with several goals. Firstly, we want sports nutrition experts to ensure that our athletes are healthy. Only a healthy athlete can reach their maximum performance. Secondly, we want to support our athletes with our knowledge to improve their performance, for example, accelerate recovery, avoid dehydration, maximize training adaptation, cover energy and nutrient needs (and thus prevent deficiencies), and help them succeed. And we want to protect them from injuries and illnesses, during their careers and beyond. Good nutrition counseling can help in all these areas.

The central goal of sports nutrition is
to help athletes be successful, live their dreams, and achieve their personal goals."

While many believe that sports nutrition counseling is only needed when there is a problem, sports nutrition has become an integral part of many institutions and performance concepts aiming to maximize athlete support and performance, as well as improve their environment. These are the places where nutrition, like fitness exercises, is a crucial component of care to enhance athlete performance. They are the places where athletes don't ask what they should eliminate (i.e., the mentality of nutrition myths and trends), but where athletes inquire: what do I need to do to get even better? It's a different mentality, a different mindset. Yet, it is also the future of sports and successful athletes. We all know a bit about nutrition. We all do some things right, but we all have a lot of potential for improvement to become even better.

Further Reading: Job description of a sports dietitian (SCAN)

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