Di was checking out what may be the next stage in our continued professional development .
The weekend provided a taster for the diploma in Sports Nutrition which is run under the International Society of Sports Nutrition. The diploma is aimed at nutritionists , personal trainers, sports coaches, sports dieticians and strength and conditioning professionals. You can “upgrade” the diploma to a MSc that is recognised ny the International Olympic Committee.
The weekend was a refresher for those on the course prior to exam time. But for me it was an opportunity to learn about the course and dig a bit deeper into sports nutrition.
We covered the bio chemistry of nutrition with protein, carbohydrates and fats. The consistent message throughout the lectures was know the basics and get these right first with the people you work with. Practical examples of how to consume proteins through milk was discussed with explanations of the essential amino acids taken on board and why. Who would have thought leucine was such a good little fella with its chemical reaction in the liver to produce insulin. I was taking it all in!
The carbs lecture had a similar message of “back to basics”. Scary diagrams appeared but the lecturer quickly focused on glycogen and then the glycemic index and I think it made sense. The combination of glucose and fructose was suggested as beneficial in performance athletes. No difference has been shown between gels, bars and liquid carb replacement as they all work, but the individual palate had to be considered regarding GI issues.
Caffeine had its own lecture to explain why and how to use it provide optimal performance. To be honest the dosage required together with the side effects from 48 hours of non caffeine put me off considering the strategy. I like my java jolt!
The most fascinating lectures were around supplementation. Again the clear message was get the basics right and then decide if supplementation is necessary. Warnings were issued regarding the understanding of the science by reading journals carefully. Does the journal explain why the supplement added value? Also supplementation may have small gains but big losses elsewhere, perhaps with GI issues.
The functional food discussion again suggested proceed with caution and don’t get taken in with the next fad! Firstly if it’s too good to be true it probably is and secondly it will hit your purse or wallet hard. Green tea was dismissed as a useful supplement with problems over the amount required to have a significant effect and the vast varieties of the tea available.
The timing of nutrients was a fascinating subject which relied upon the individual response together with the sport specifics. The role of the coach is to instil day to day good nutrition habits with fuelling matching training needs. Advice was given regarding practising completion fuelling strategies , particularly if the athlete restricts carbs other than on race day…this is a sure way of having GI problems such as bloating or worse.
All in all the weekend wetted my appetite to understand sports nutrition and even to go back to chemistry!