The 6th to 12th February celebrates Schools Football Week, so in honour of this, February’s Career of the Month will focus on the job of a Sports Nutritionist.
Have you ever wondered why Jordan Pickford would need to be eating different food to Harry Kane? Well, Sports Nutritionists have a lot to do with an athlete’s diet.
A Sports Nutritionist analyses an athlete’s performance, and this isn’t just football players, it can be all sorts of athletes, including pro-golfers, professional swimmers and even tennis players!
Sports Nutritionists will assess an athlete’s performance, checking if they need to improve stamina, speed, strength and will create an individual diet plan. This will be to maximise their performance and reduce the risk of injuries.
In football, forwards and midfielders might need more energy from carbohydrates (carbs) because they run long distances whilst a goalkeeper has different movements and might need more protein.
Salary range: 24,900 – 37,900
A Sports Nutritionist is part of the support team for a professional athlete or if it’s a team sport, the whole team. This team might also include Physiotherapists, Personal Trainers, Coaches, and Mental & Motivational Coaches.
One of the most exciting possibilities for the Sports Nutritionist role is the potential to work with elite athletes (we are talking Lionel Messi, Rafael Nadal, Michael Phelps, and Tyson Fury).
If you are thinking of working locally, there are still opportunities to work with a variety of people and sports.
Another role for a Sports Nutritionist might be to work in research and development. This involves working with universities to gather scientific evidence about products and nutrients. It also involves writing up these projects for fitness journals – which means other people in the industry will refer to your work for guidance!
There is a big market for sports supplements, they include things like protein supplements and vitamins.
This job requires you to be able to work well in a team and be able to communicate clearly to others.
You will need the scientific knowledge (gained through doing the University course) and be able to be patient and remain calm in stressful situations.
One downside of the job, mentioned by some Nutritionists, is that talking about food all the time can make you hungry!
To become a Sports Nutritionist, you will usually need a degree or postgraduate qualification approved by the Association for Nutrition.
Approved courses include:
- food and nutrition
- public health
- health promotion
A Level Biology, Chemistry, Food Technology or Sport would be useful to get onto the above courses.
What can you be doing now?
In preparation for becoming a Sports Nutritionist, you could be asking to shadow a nutritionist for a day to see what the job entails. You could volunteer at a sports event and very importantly-play some sport as this will give you an insight into what is required of the body in sustained exercise.