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Nutrition Professionals

by NSCA's Essentials of Tactical Strength and Conditioning
Kinetic Select June 2017

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All sports nutrition professionals should be able to answer basic nutrition questions. However, athletes with complex nutrition issues should be referred to the appropriate resource as explained in this book excerpt.

The following is an exclusive excerpt from the book NSCA's Essentials of Tactical Strength and Conditioning, published by Human Kinetics. All text and images provided by Human Kinetics.

All sports nutrition professionals should be able to answer basic nutrition questions. However, athletes with complex nutrition issues should be referred to the appropriate resource (128).

A sports nutrition coach is a professional who is not a registered dietitian but has basic training in nutrition and exercise science. For example, the strength and conditioning professional can act as a sports nutrition coach, providing basic nutrition education and suggestions. More complex situations in which food or nutrition is being used to treat or manage a medical condition (including a nutrient deficiency) require medical nutrition therapy and fall under the role of the sports dietitian.

Sports nutrition coaches may obtain additional education by getting a sports nutrition certification.

A sports nutritionist with an advanced degree is a professional who works in the sports nutrition industry or conducts research in the area of sports nutrition and would therefore be able to discuss the literature on a particular topic. The sports nutritionist with an advanced degree may also choose to obtain a sports nutrition certification.

A registered dietitian (RD), also referred to as a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN), is a professional who is credentialed by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. RDs have met the following academic and professional requirements:

• Completion of a bachelor’s degree with coursework approved by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education. Coursework typically includes food and nutrition sciences, food service systems management, business, economics, computer science, sociology, biochemistry, physiology, microbiology, and chemistry

• Completion of an accredited supervised practice program at a health care facility, community agency, or food service corporation

• Passing of a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration

• Completion of continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration

 

The RD can design individual diets based on specific nutrient requirements and can provide behavioral and dietary counseling. In addition, the RD may manage a food service operation. The RD is also usually the nutrition specialist for medical nutrition therapy.

A sports dietitian is an RD with specific education and experience in sports nutrition. The Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) certification distinguishes RDs with expertise in sports nutrition from RDs who specialize in other areas of nutrition.

In summary, many people with little to no education in nutrition and exercise science or formal training refer to themselves as sports nutritionists. TSAC Facilitators should turn to dietitians or licensed nutritionists when nutritional advice exceeds their scope of practice.

Key Point
For nutrition information that is prescriptive, TSAC Facilitators should refer tactical athletes to licensed nutrition professionals with the right blend of education, experience, and credentials.

A personalized nutrition program must take into consideration the demands of the individual. Understanding the individual’s goals, energy demands, and recovery needs will create a framework for the nutritional recommendations. For example, greater energy demands through increased physical activity result in the need for more calories, carbohydrate, and protein. Tactical athletes who have lower physical demands will have a decreased need for calories, carbohydrate, and protein due to less demand placed on the body. A great way to approach the nutritional needs of tactical athletes is to use the following four-step process. This process will guide the remainder of this chapter.

Step 1: Understand the demands of the tactical athlete.

Step 2: Understand basic fueling concepts.

Step 3: Within the scope of practice, create nutritional guidance for daily, or foundational, nutritional needs.

Step 4: Within the scope of practice, create nutritional recommendations to support performance and recovery.

NSCA's Essentials of Tactical Strength and Conditioning is the ideal preparatory guide for those seeking TSAC-F certification, and a reference for fitness trainers who work with tactical populations such as military, law enforcement, and fire and rescue personnel. The book is available in bookstores everywhere, as well as online at the NSCA Store.

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