Sports nutrition is a branch of human nutrition that specializes in people who practice sports. These can be vigorous sports, such as weightlifting (also called bodybuilding) or fitness, or endurance sports, i.e. the ones that involve sustained efforts over time, such as marathons, cycling, or triathlons.
In this specialty, we work with the nutritional aspects of each stage of the sport: rest, active phase, and recovery phase. Nutrition is key to maintaining good overall health and to optimizing sports performance. Thus, nutrition has developed into an “invisible training” indeed, and its importance is being increasingly recognized by athletes.
What does a professional specialized in sports nutrition do?
- Assesses and analyzes dietary practices, blood test sampling, body composition, and athletes’ energy balance (intake and expenditure) in the context of sport performance and health.
- Provides tools to improve body composition.
- Develops customized eating plans (meals and snacks) focused on the achievement of short and long-term goals.
- Addresses and handles nutritional challenges such as specific food allergies, digestive disorders, and iron deficiency, among others.
- Advises on nutritional strategies to recover from a disease or injury.
- Assesses nutritional supplements and other types of products on aspects such as safety, quality, effectiveness, and appropriate use.
- Works in collaboration with the people who are close to the athlete, such as their coach, doctor, family, and team.
- Educates the athlete on how to read nutritional labels so they can choose the right foods and know how to prepare them.
The professional advises athletes on:
- Nutrition during training
- Preparation for a competitive event
- Post-exercise recovery
- Weight management
- Immune system strengthening
- Adjustment of eating disorders
- Diets during trips
What makes me a sports nutritionist?
In addition to having a Bachelor’s and having completed an internship in Nutrition and Dietetics, I have a Master’s in Sports Nutrition and a Master’s in Exercise Science with a concentration in Exercise Physiology. These human movement sciences study how the organs and the body systems adapt and change their functioning when performing vigorous exercises and long-term training.
To keep at the forefront of sports nutrition, I am certified by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the largest organization in the United States specializing in food and nutrition, where I became a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD).
On a personal level, I have participated as a recreational athlete for more than 16 years in countless events: 5k, 10k, and 21k foot races, Coamo half marathon, Sabrina 16 miles, cycling events such as the Tour of Puerto Rico, and several large road races like the Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia Miami, GFNY, NYC, Levi’s Gran Fondo and Mallorca 312, as well as large-scale ultra-cycling events, such as the Silver State 508, the 48h cycling ultramarathon in the Nevada desert and the 24h Tour of Puerto Rico.