Sports Nutrition Coaching — What It’s Worth

by Heather D’Eliso Gordon RD, CSSD

Consider for a moment all that it takes to be an athlete. Physical ability, mental capacity, motivation, commitment, drive, time demands, family-life balance, money, skill, a vision, not to mention blood, sweat and tears. As any part time or full time athlete knows the measure of one’s success with all of these variables comes down to one thing: performance. Am I right?

Athletic performance is entirely dependent on body composition, energy and recovery and these in turn are totally dependent on what and how much the athlete eats. Why is it that athletes who work so hard on other aspects of preparation for their sport put eating on the back burner? You know what I mean; pastry and coffee for breakfast, fast food for lunch and a frozen meal for dinner. Even if you aren’t at this extreme your nutrition and eating habits could stand to have a look over. It’s one aspect of an athlete’s preparation that has the potential to bring huge performance improvements but is often overlooked.

The effects of sound nutrition on an active body are as plain as the nose on your face. What goes in your mouth has a direct effect on how your body will respond in training and racing. If your diet consists of refined carbohydrates, saturated fats, and few fruits or vegetables you should not be surprised if you get a poor placing when you arrive at the finish line.

Every person (athlete) has a unique metabolism; dictating how many calories (units of energy) they burn on a daily basis. Depending on their level of fitness the rate of burning nutrients (carbohydrates, fat and protein) will vary. The value of knowing your metabolic rate and energy intake and what to do with that information shows when the rubber hits the road – be it your Nikes or Continentals.

If you have a disadvantageous power to weight ratio (e.g. your excess body fat is slowing you down), recover slowly or you’re training and racing without energy or enthusiasm, you should consider the one variable that may have the greatest impact: food. Getting a detailed look at your current nutrition and eating habits from a skilled sports nutrition professional will undoubtedly improve your performance; not to mention your health.

Nutrition coaching can help you get away from a life of chronic colds and fatigue, stress fractures, muscle cramps, DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and/or bonking. Knowing what types of foods to eat and when to eat them will benefit your performance from the moment you make the change.

Demanding yourself to give and give without giving back in the form of optimal nutrition sets the athlete up for failure. I challenge you to make the most of being the best athlete you can be. If you play your cards right, anything can happen!  I’m willing to make a wager on it – or your money back.