Sports nutrition courses focus on four main things: nutrition, exercise, psychology, and professionalism. The courses concentrate on nutrition, so you know what to feed the body; exercise, so you know exactly how to strengthen the body; psychology, so you can motivate the mind; and professionalism, so you can get started on your own career. The different types of sports nutritionist courses are outlined below.
Nutrition is obviously a key element in this degree. It is important to know how to fuel the body so peak fitness can be attained. These sports nutrition courses will teach students about vitamins and minerals, sports supplements, how much and what fluids to consume, and the optimal amount of carbohydrates and protein for each type of person. Most courses will have the students draw out a nutritional plan for a test subject.
Exercise seems like a pretty broad topic, but these courses delve into all kinds of specific scenarios a sports nutritionist should be familiar with. For instance, one would work out differently if the goal was weight loss than if the goal was strengthening. Classes on exercise will also teach students how to vary exercise plans when it comes to helping people on extreme ends of the age spectrum: the elderly and children. Another thing these courses teach is the precautions a professional should take when dealing with people with specific conditions (like pregnancy, heart disease, or breathing problems) that need to be accounted for when working out. Exercise testing and analysis are other factors taught in these sports nutritionist courses.
Psychology of sports is a whole separate sphere of its own. Sports nutrition courses of this nature teach students how to motivate properly. It is important to know how to push athletes in a healthy way so that they can perform at their optimal ability. Team mediation might be another factor in these courses. If a team isn’t working together then it won’t do well. It is important that as a professional sports nutritionist, one understands the team dynamic and how to strengthen it. Also, many athletes are under a lot of stress to do well, and this can cause some athletes to break. A good sports nutritionist will recognize when there is a stress problem and help alleviate it. The main thing is to get an athlete’s mind in the right place, so it doesn’t hold back the body.
Professionalism is a sports nutritionist course that is geared more towards the student than the athletes they are helping. In these types of courses, students learn what they can do with their degree. They will learn where sports nutritionist jobs are available–at a school or a gym for example. Students may also learn how to set up their own practice. Many schools require students to draw up their own business plan. These types of courses may also take shape as internships or fieldwork, where the student gets actual hands-on experience as a sports nutritionist before heading out into the field.
So, though sports nutrition may seem straight forward, there are actually many different facets of the job. Sports nutrition courses focus on nutrition, exercise, psychology, and professionalism. When all these things are learned, the sports nutritionist is able to help athletes perform at an optimal level.
Becoming a Sports Nutritionist
The question, “how to become a sports nutritionist” can be answered as a series of steps. These steps are education, internships and networking, and certification. Depending on where you wish to work, the specifics of these steps may vary.
Online Sports Nutrition Certification Programs
Now let’s look at online training in sports nutrition programs. These types of programs are very popular because they offer the student a lot of flexibility. You don’t have to relocate to participate in the program, and you can do your coursework at any time of day, never having to attend a real class. Since it is so hard to find straight sports nutrition undergraduate or graduate degree programs (that aren’t tracks or concentrations in a more general field), it is especially hard to find these types of programs online. Therefore, most online sports nutrition degree programs you will find are certificate programs. However, if you search for online certificate/diploma programs, you will find a wealth of opportunity.
NESTA certified has a very respectable certificate program in sports nutrition to become a certified Sports Nutrition Specialist. So, online sports nutrition programs are both flexible and profitable.