Everything that we eat is fuel for our bodies. Even though there is no harm in the occasional treat, it is important to get all of the recommended food groups in your regular diet. These foods not only provide you body with the materials it needs to maintain and repair itself, but you also get what you need to stay energized throughout the day.
Keeping track of all nutrients you need without compromising on taste can be difficult, especially for athletes. That’s where sports nutritionist can come in and help.
Find The Ideal Nutritionist For Your Health And Fitness Goals
As an athlete, your performance is tied to your overall fitness, no matter what kind of athlete you are. Though maintaining a healthy weight is essential, your nutritional needs go beyond weight loss goals and depend on which physical activities you do.
You may have tried meal plans or dabbled in fad diets that promise quick weight loss or overall wellness, only to find out they aren't what you need. A sports nutritionist can help you get the proper nutrition for peak athletic performance and optimal health.
How Do I Find A Sports Nutritionist Near Me? Here Are 6 Ways:
When choosing a sports nutritionist, you'll want to ensure that you select a trustworthy professional with the relevant training, qualifications, and experience. To find a sports nutritionist, it's a good idea to use a managed marketplace or rely on advice and referrals from professionals in the healthcare field.
1. Ask your healthcare provider
Talking to your doctor is an excellent place to start. Let your physician know that you are interested in sports nutrition therapy and want to work with a sports dietitian. Healthcare providers often have a network of other professionals they work or collaborate with, including sports dietitians. Make sure you specify your preference for registered dietitians with expertise in sports performance nutrition.
2. Check with local hospitals
Hospitals frequently provide nutrition services and have dietitians on staff. The requirements to call yourself a nutritionist can vary depending on your state. Some states don't require specific training or certification, so anyone can claim they have nutrition counseling skills. Hospitals are more likely to hire nutritionists with the correct qualifications.
However, hospital dietitians won't necessarily have expertise and training in sports nutrition. If the hospital doesn't employ a sports nutritionist, they might be able to point you in the right direction by providing helpful references for community-based dietitians.
3. Visit your county public health department
Public health departments usually offer residents health and wellness services, including nutrition education programs. Although they probably won't have sports dietetics professionals on staff, the department may have relationships with nutritionists specializing in sports nutrition therapy.
4. Contact your insurance provider
If you have a medical condition, such as diabetes, or are at risk of developing one, the Affordable Care Act requires insurance providers to cover preventative care, including nutrition therapy. Even if you don't have a health issue, you may want to check your coverage to see if nutrition counseling is covered. Your insurance provider may have a list of nutrition counselors in the network, helping you narrow your options in your search for a nutritionist near me.
5. Reach out to local universities or colleges
Colleges and universities can be good resources for connecting with an experienced sports nutrition professional. You can check for a nutrition-related program of study such as:
- Nutritional sciences
- Dietetics, nutrition, and exercise physiology
- Food and nutritional sciences
- Food science nutrition
The faculty in these departments may be able to answer the question, "Who is the best sports dietitian near me?" Another option is to contact the athletics department, as collegiate teams often work with a sports dietitian.
6. Go through a managed marketplace
A managed marketplace like Top Nutrition Coaching offers the advantage of having a third party conducting the research for you, saving you valuable time. Look for a provider that thoroughly vets applicants before allowing them to participate in the marketplace. You should also be able to read up on the nutritionists' backgrounds and find out what types of clients they typically work with.
How To Choose The Right Sports Nutritionist For You
The first step is to figure out what you want to accomplish by working with a sports nutritionist. Do you want overall health improvement? Are you looking for nutritional support for a medical condition or recovery from injury? Do you want to improve your sports performance? Do you need to lose weight?
When you have a list of potential nutritionists, you need to narrow the options down to choose one who is right for you. A good fit is essential to reach your fitness goals and maintain good health.
The right nutritionist will support you in your health and fitness journey by developing a customized plan tailored to your unique needs. Take the quiz to determine what type of dietitian is right for you. They won't promise a quick fix because, as with optimal sports performance, good health takes time. Look for a nutrition professional who meets the following criteria:
- A registered dietitian
- Education and training in sports nutrition
- A certified specialist in nutrition for health conditions
- Experience working with athletes in your sport
- Expertise with relevant food or dietary restrictions
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Benefits Of Working With An Online Sports Nutritionist
As an athlete, you need someone who can support you in developing eating habits that fuel your body correctly. One way to find a dietitian who can understand your needs as an athlete is to look for an online provider. Connecting with a sports dietitian online has multiple benefits, including giving you more options than the potentially limited pool of qualified professionals in your local area.
A great way to expand your options for qualified dietitians is to work with a provider who can match you with the right nutritionist. However, you must use a service that carefully vets every applicant to ensure they hire only the best sports nutritionists.
Convenience is one of the most significant benefits of working with an online professional. Athletes often have minimal free time. Online nutrition programs make it easier to fit your appointments into your schedule. Nutritionists who offer virtual advice and assistance don't require a commute. From your initial consultation to follow-up appointments, you meet online. You can also get support with diagnostic testing to determine the causes of any health issues.
Your dietitian will help you with nutrition guidance, menu plans, and energy and weight management goals without requiring in-person meetings. You can fit in your appointments between training sessions. If your schedule requires eating out occasionally, you can access your personalized nutrition plan on the go, allowing you to choose meals that align with your diet and give you the energy and nutrients you need.
Choosing a managed marketplace like Top Nutrition Coaching ensures you have access to your dietitian when you need it. With an online platform, clients can expect unlimited 24/7 support from their nutritionists whenever they have questions or concerns.
Am I A Good Candidate To Work With A Sports Nutritionist?
Fueling your body for sports performance is not the same as eating for everyday activities. Developing a healthy eating plan requires specialized knowledge and training. You may need to search for a sports nutritionist to get the proper assistance, especially if you are in one of the following situations.
You play a competitive sport
If you are competitive, your training requirements place much higher nutrition and energy demands on your body than a casual athlete or fitness enthusiast. Research suggests that many competitive and team sports athletes do not get the complete sustenance they need to support their bodies for their activity level. While you need the same general macronutrients and micronutrients as non-athletes, you require different amounts.
As a competitor, you are at an increased risk for injury. Eating a whole-food diet with nutritious ingredients may reduce the likelihood of getting hurt. The right nutrition balance can also help you during the recovery process if you have an injury. Nutritionists who specialize in the needs of athletes understand the body's unique requirements following an injury or surgery.
You have a medical condition
A sports nutritionist can offer the support you need if you have a health condition that potentially impacts your athletic performance. A chronic health condition can severely impede your ability to participate in your favorite sports. Look for a sports dietitian with the training to offer advice on eating patterns that can alleviate symptoms, improve your overall health, and enhance your body's cardiovascular and musculoskeletal condition.
A registered dietitian nutritionist with training in medical therapy understands what nutrients the body needs for addressing medical conditions such as:
- Gut imbalances
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Food allergies
- Thyroid disorders
- Nutrient deficiencies
- High blood pressure
If you have one of these medical conditions, you should seek a sports nutritionist with a relevant background. For example, someone with diabetes might look for a registered dietitian who is also a certified diabetes educator. A component of that individual's nutrition counseling would involve learning what to eat to naturally maintain healthy blood sugar levels and keep diabetes in check.
You Eat a Special Diet
Like those with medical conditions, athletes on special diets have an additional challenge in getting the nutrients they need to fuel their bodies while maintaining dietary restrictions. Whether you have a vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or dairy-free diet or suffer from food allergies, you likely need nutrition therapy to provide your body with sufficient nutrition to maintain physical health and athletic performance.
A registered dietitian nutritionist can help individuals with special diets learn how to obtain the proper nutrition for their health and the energy their sport requires.
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Sports Nutrition Plan Checklist
When it's time to choose a dietitian, being prepared speeds up the process and improves the likelihood of success. This checklist can help you select the right professional.
Write Down Your Goals
Write down what you want to get out of working with a dietitian. You may be looking to lose weight, fuel your body with more energy for your workouts, or find a diet that naturally improves health and wellness. No matter your intentions, you should be clear about your goals and be able to convey them to a dietitian.
Not everyone who calls themselves a nutritionist is qualified to offer advice and guidance to an athlete. Look for nutritionists who have the right credentials. They should have a background in sports nutrition and training, such as completing a dietetic internship in sports nutrition. They should also be registered dietitians, with an RD or an MS RDN following their names.
Narrow Your List
As you investigate potential professionals, you can narrow your list to those whose training, qualifications, and specializations match what you need from a dietitian. A managed marketplace can take care of these first two steps, leaving you a shortlist of nutritionists.
Once you have your list of professionals, ask questions that help you identify which ones are a good fit. You can ask questions during your initial consultation or in a general inquiry. You may want to ask:
- What type of clients do you typically work with?
- Do you hold any specialized certifications?
- Do you need my medical history?
- What is your nutrition philosophy?
If you have diabetes or other health concerns, ensure the nutritionist has the training to support you with weight management and nutrition guidance suitable for your condition. If you follow a special diet, you may want to ask about their experience with other clients with similar dietary restrictions.
Look for Red Flags
A managed marketplace that fully vets its nutritionists is an excellent way to avoid working with unqualified individuals. Nutrition science is grounded in research, and research does not support quick-fix approaches. Real change requires a long-term commitment to a healthy diet consisting of whole, unprocessed food. Be wary of dietitians who promise rapid results or rely on trendy buzzwords without a concrete nutrition plan.
Find the Right Match
Need a little more time to decide? Take the quiz, and let us help you decide if a sports nutritionist is the right choice for you!