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How to Become a Sports Nutritionist in the United Kingdom

By Yann, published on 19/10/2018 We Love Prof - IN > Health and Fitness > Nutrition > Steps to Take to Become a Sports Nutritionist

“Good nutrition and exercise improve the function of the whole body in every way.” -Lauren Thomas

Eating well and regular exercise improves your overall health and wellness. Taking care of our bodies is essential in order to prevent life-threatening illnesses such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes. We only have one body, therefore, we need to take care of it.

The majority of British citizens understand the fundamentals of a healthy lifestyle but do not put into practice what they know. The reasons for this are various. For example, there is the erroneous belief that healthy eating is time-consuming and people are too busy to bother. Others claim that they do not know how to start a healthy diet and that wholesome foods are too expensive.

It is true that grabbing some burgers and chips from McDonald’s is easier than making a balanced work lunch the night before. However, there are health professionals who instruct communities, schools, workplaces and individuals about how to adopt a healthy lifestyle through simple recipes, tips and tricks and meal plans.

These incredible health professionals are known as nutritionists. They make it their goal to see clients drop bad habits and adopt healthy ones.

Experienced nutritionists know that the benefits of a healthy diet can transform a person’s life. 

There are many nutritionists in the United Kingdom helping people out in a variety of sectors. There are those who work in the public helping ones in hospitals, schools and nursing homes. Then there are other nutritionists working in the private sector conducting tailor-made consultations for a number of individuals such as celebrities, politicians and athletes.

Nutritionists who work with athletes and fitness enthusiasts have previously studied nutrition and dietetics and received accredited credentials in their field.

Superprof is here to discuss with interested ones the basic job responsibilities of a sports nutritionist and the necessary steps to become one.

Basic Description of a Sports Nutritionist

the best swimmers Olympics swimmers want to reach their performance peak during the Olympics. Sports nutritionists can help them met their goals. (Source: Visual Hunt)

Unlike general nutritionists who work with people from many different professions, sports nutritionists focus mostly on athletes and sports teams. They create a nutrition program and provide advice that helps athletes perform at their best.

Sports nutritionists understand the effects that food has on the body and what is needed for the best execution. 

They met with clients who specialize in a certain discipline and discuss what athletic goals and physical difficulties they might want to overcome. Whether athletes need to improve their stamina, endurance, diet or post-workout recovery techniques sports nutritionists have helpful tips to make their clients meet their goals.

Sports nutritionist counsel athletes to implement new food items into their diet in order to see results. Since every athlete has a different body type, training routine, metabolism and athletic goals regimes may vary.

Nutritionists and dietitians know the correct amount of foods and fluids that should be consumed by athletes during game days and training days. Eating regimes must be developed to properly balance the intake of healthy fats, carbohydrates and proteins.

Healthy food choices and good nutrition are extremely crucial for athletes in strength sports such as bodybuilding and weightlifting. In addition, Olympic class swimmers and marathon runners and FIFA level football players need to have the correct amount of nutrients and calories in their diets to outperform the rest.

After implementing new diets and offering nutrition advice, the best sports nutritionists consult with the athlete’s team members, family, physicians and coaches to make sure that they are all on the same page. Collaboration is essential to make sure the athlete reaches his peak during the training season.

The work of a sports nutritionist is not a piece of cake. A wide range of knowledge and experience is expected from sports nutritionists by athletes and coaches.

The most difficult part of the profession involves the athlete’s peak. The nutrition meal plan must coordinate with the athlete’s desired peak. Athletes always look to peak and reach their highest level of performance at one point in the season. For example, Olympians want to reach their best during the Olympics and professional football players want to arrive at their peak during the World Cup.

Therefore, the best nutritionists need to know how to reach this peak through dietary measures since nutrition and eating habits play an important in arriving at the summit of performance.

Sports nutritionists do not only need to possess knowledge in their field but also have certain characteristics that will distinguish them as being the best. Here are some recommended qualities that sports nutritionists should have:

  • Creative thinking: athletes may sometimes have very specific dietary needs and unique solutions need to be thought of quickly. Some meal plans need diversity and creativity in order to be considered interesting by the client.
  • Good communication and language skills: the correlation between science and healthy eating may be difficult to understand at times. Therefore, sports nutritionists need to have the ability to explain complex concepts in simple words and language. If your clients are entire sports teams, seminars and workshops need to conducted which requires public speaking skills.
  • People skills: you won’t go far in this career if you don’t enjoy conversing with people. Sports nutritionists need to have people like them in order to create lasting relationships and secure jobs. Those who possess great people skills build credibility and create a good reputation for themselves making themselves leaders in this field.

Where to Study Sports Nutrition

studying nutrition Sports nutritionists gain experience and skills during university classes. (Source: Visual Hunt)

In order to get jobs in the first place, sports nutritionists need to undergo careful training and acquire the correct qualifications. Without having previously studied an approved course by the Association for Nutrition (AfN) it is difficult to establish credibility with new clients.

Since athletes are very important people, they want to see previous credentials and an accreditation in nutrition education before hiring a new sports nutritionist in order to avoid mistakes and ensure victory. 

Luckily there are many schools, institutes and universities all across the United Kingdom, that are approved by the prestigious AfN, where students aspiring to be sports nutritionists can study. Here are some of the best schools that come highly recommended:

  • Manchester Metropolitan University: this wonderful 3-year fulltime or 4-year sandwich undergraduate course equips students with the necessary qualifications to help professional athletes succeed. During this course, pupils study the global trend of manipulating athlete’s nutrient intake to enhance performance and overall health that has increasingly grown in the last few decades. This BSc or bachelor degree (Hons) in Sports and Exercise Nutrition is divided into three years with students needing 120 credits per year to graduate. The course is a bit expensive costing pupils £9,250 per year. After graduating from this AfN approved programme and receiving your certification degree in nutrition, graduates have found themselves working for professional athletes and sports teams helping them identify their nutritional needs.
  • University of Westminster: if you enjoyed your three-year studies of BSc in Sports and Excercise Nutrition and wish to continue on, an MSc in Sports and Exercise Nutrition is for you! The University of Westminster offers this one-year programme to postgraduate students who want to further their studies of nutrition research and the science behind sports nutrition. During this course, pupils hear from guest lecturers who are pioneers in the field of sports nutrition. Modules covered include Advanced Performance Nutrition, Assessment of Health and Fitness, Concepts and Principles of Human Nutrition and Practitioner Skills for Sports Nutrition just to name a few. There are great student testimonials about this course with many of the past alumni shattering the competition and accepting the best jobs in the field of sports nutrition.

While there are quite a few places to study AfN approved sports nutrition courses in the UK, these are just recommended options in the cities of Manchester and London. Studying to become a sports nutritionist or dietitian is a perfect match for individuals who love sports and have a passion for healthy living.

After graduating from a BSc or MSc in Sports and Exercise Nutrition, students are one step closer towards joining the Sports and Exercise Nutrition register (SENR) as a Graduate Sport and Exercise Nutritionist.

What is the Sports and Excercise Nutrition register for? 

The SENR is a register that was designed to accredit and qualify experienced nutritionists. This register qualifies self-employed nutritionists to meet the industry’s high standards. The Sports and Exercise Nutrition register protects the public standards of sports nutrition and develops the skills of professionals working in this field.

Athletes and professional sports teams are more inclined to hire sports nutritionists who have been qualified by the SENR because it certifies quality.

Health Tips From Sports Nutritionists

running to stay in shape Running is highly recommended to lose weight and stay toned. (Source: Visual Hunt)

When you are a professional athlete, staying in shape and taking care of your body literally means everything. Your body is your money maker and taking care of it will have you win competitions and earn the big bucks!

As an athlete, it is important to seek the guidance of sports nutritionists and put the health tips they offer you into practice right away. Refusal to listen to useful tips could result in competition failure and over exhaustion.

Nutritional counselling can be the difference between 1st and 2nd place!

Here are some of the best health tips from experienced sports nutritionists to keep you in your best shape:

  • Avoid refined sugars and artificial sweeteners: athletes need to stay away from sugars that could potentially affect performance. Artificial sweeteners and sugars found in soft drinks make people gain weight and that is the last thing an athlete wants to do. Eat healthy sugars found in fruits instead of sugars that have been processed and refined.
  • Constantly drink water: drinking water is synonymous with a healthy diet. The recommended daily average of drinking water is eight glasses each day. However, it is important to clarify that for every hour spent exercising an extra glass of water should be consumed. Drinking enough water helps your body receive the hydration and oxygen it needs. The importance of drinking water cannot be stressed enough. Water gives you more energy and cleans out the toxins from your body.
  • Avoid lifting excessive weights: this tip applies primarily to swimmers and runners who want a toned but lean body. Lifting too many weights while exercising at the gym will cause you to gain muscle and bulk up which will essentially cause you to be slower in the water and while running. Don’t put on unnecessary pounds. Consult with a professional sports nutritionist to get the best advice for your specific training. Nevertheless, bulking up is essential for bodybuilders and weightlifters.
  • Try to go running more: athletes who want to keep their ideal weight and improve agility, flexibility and speed should go for a run once a day. Running is a great cardio exercise that has numerous benefits such as improving cardiovascular health, strengthens muscles and builds stronger bones.
  • Let your body get the rest it needs: many athletes believe that an intense daily workout means triumph and victory. However, that is simply not the case. Our bodies need time to rest in between workouts. It is recommended to do about 3 to 4 intense workouts per week. This allows your body time to recuperate. Also, doing too many workouts results in over exhaustion and injuries are more likely to occur when your body is tired.

Becoming a sports nutritionist in the United Kingdom is not very complicated if you are dedicated to your studies and interested in the well-being of others. It can also be a very rewarding job because after seeing athletes put into practice your health tips and later winning competitions can result in so much joy!

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