Thank you to Hâle Deniz-Venturi, MS,ATC,LAT,RD,CSSD,LDN for submitting this article:
It’s Fall Marathon/Triathlon Season….. and working with a Professional Sports Nutritionist can add to your advantage…
By the time you read this, the Chicago Marathon will have been…run! For many years, as well as this year, I have had the pleasure of helping many folks get ready for this event. As a “nutrition coach”, from the beginning of their training through the progression and tapering process and event. This year my clients were beginners up to seasoned marathoners and pace setters.
As a first time contributor to the Search for the Ultimate Athlete website, I was asked to share as a professional sports nutritionist, how I help clients get ready for a long season of training for endurance events, and other sports. After reading this, hopefully it may help you to learn how a sports nutritionist can be a valuable member of your training and competition support team ….to help you perform and recover at your best….
As sport nutrition experts…we give clients the opportunity to learn as much as they can from the research and how to translate that into practical ways to integrate that into their daily training programs.
For starters, for myself, as a registered dietitian with a board certified specialist in sports nutrition and an athletic trainer, when clients sign up or inquire about “nutrition coaching” with me; I start by discussing the “big picture “ with them first. By getting an idea of their training history, health history, orthopedic history, and their training and performance goals. Then, we discuss how health habits, training, performance, and fueling (nutrition) are intertwined and how they have to work in “synergy” day to day. And, how that leads to their ultimate performance goals, what ever that may be. Finally, I explain how an effective sports nutrition coaching program should be conducted for the client to achieve the most benefit.
A good sports nutrition coaching format typically has the framework as follows:
➢ Conduct a proper and comprehensive assessment: I have folks keep a “typical” food,fluid, and training(exercise) logs for 5-7 typical days including one “long distance” day for the endurance folks and one game/competition for the athletics folks. I send them an additional packet to complete for the assessment which includes; medical/health, orthopedic, and training history. Including other issues re: weight history, supplements, and more.
This information is compiled and analyzed to result in a comprehensive nutrition analysis, energy expenditure analysis, and behavioral(habit) analyst. This is compared to the client’s training program and goals. A comprehensive nutrition/sports nutrition meal planning sports nutrition coaching plan and progression is formulated to meet their health and training goals for the period of time leading up to their event or season. And most importantly match it to their lifestyle, and make it easy, reasonable, and achievable!
➢ Then, in sports nutrition coaching sessions..
- During the initial session I present the analysis information
- Review the clients training history, goals, health history,etc
- Review their training schedule and goals and compare that to their analysis information.
- Looking for energy, nutrient deficits and the regular use of important sports nutrition strategies and how researched information can play a part in their training program.
➢ I teach them the importance of properly staging their sports nutrition diet to match their training as it progresses to the “event day”. For instance, for the folks training in Chicago marathon, we started “nutrition coaching” in the Spring and built on their nutrition needs as their training and mileage progressed to match it. This process is great from a muscle adaptation perspective and also this gives us a chance to practice, problem solve, tweak, and review to build an optimum program for themselves. Vs just meeting w/them one time.
Overall athletes, in retrospect have told me that they realized how important this approach is when it came time “for the event” and/or during a sports season.
➢ For sports/athletics we tailor our sessions and “sports nutrition coaching” approach to pre-season, in-season, and post- season; daily, weekly, monthly strategies.
➢ For all clients, I compute, formulate and write an individualized daily meal plan, nutrient needs, and fluid system to match their needs, health issues, training progression and teach folks how to use it for training. How to adapt it to their lifestyle and make it easy to achieve.
➢ I also teach clients how to use sports nutrition for an effective “recovery program” we tailor that periodically to match their training progression.
Most often a recovery program is the most neglected or misunderstood aspect of training and sports nutrition
➢ For the marathon, I teach folks how to approach the “tapering period” how to adjust their meal plan for week before, day before, day of, and days after.
➢ Athletes often learn that is is very helpful to have an “in season” or “in- training” meal plan for their training and competition, and, an “off season” plan. Subsequently, they can use these plans over again event to event or year to year. Then, I usually would meet with them once a year if they train for events or sports often or year to year to “tweak ” and update them on the newer sports nutrition research and practical application information.
➢ Other issues covered in our “sports nutrition coaching” sessions are; meal planning, grocery shopping, habits/behavior change, supplements, eating issues and perceptions, symptoms, how nutrition affects cognition, mental fatigue, a tool in preventing injury, weight management(gain or lose), eating and traveling, altitude, tournaments, and more.
This was the “cliff notes“ version of how a qualified and professionally trained sports nutritionist can be a valuable member of an athletes training and support team…..
Keeping yourself properly nourished is a vital aspect of reaching your full athletic potential. Take control of your nutrition through education.
Sports nutritionists or dietitians apply the science of nutrition, biochemistry, physiology, and exercise science to help athletes achieve peak performance, prevent and recover from sports injuries. They work with weekend athletes, as well as, school, college, or professional teams. Professional sports nutritionists or dietitians are licensed and certified by professional organizations based on successful completion of academic and work requirements. Individual assessment, nutritional analysis, education, dietary planning, and lifestyle integration and counseling are the major focus of sports nutritionists’ work.
If you have further questions of the work of a sports nutritionist and how they can help your training program. Or, if you would like to explore a personalized sports nutrition coaching program for yourself. Feel free to contact me:
FitHealth Consulting – AthlEATS
Complementary Care Chicago
Registered and Licensed Dietitian and Athletic Trainer
Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics
Tel: 312-320-6541 Fax: 708-453-0252
or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I am based in the Chicago area though I also see clients in the SW Florida region and in the Sacramento, California area periodically through out the year. I can also help your find a board certified sports nutritionist to work with in your area.