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Nutrition is massively important if you want to train at your best.

Geraint Thomas, 2018 Tour de France Champion

Sport nutrition is one of the most rapidly growing subdisciplines of sport science and medicine, and its importance is becoming increasingly recognised across multiple sports. Many sport governing bodies, national institutes, Olympic sports and professional sports teams now employ sport nutrition practitioners on a full-time or consultancy basis, and they are considered an integral part of the wider sports medicine team. In North America and Australia, the accredited career path for the sport nutritionist arises from formal training in dietetics and hence the sport dietitians will have relevant clinical training. Alternatively, in the United Kingdom, sport nutritionists can gain formal accreditation (with the Sport and Exercise Nutrition Register, SENr) through a non-dietetics pathway that is often grounded in sport science. Regardless of career entry, all sport nutritionists and dietitians (or ‘performance nutritionists’ as they are often called) should work towards a common objective:

To provide evidence-based, sport- and athlete-specific nutrition interventions that aim to optimise performance, training adaptations, body composition and recovery as well as ensuring athlete health and wellbeing at all times.

The sport nutritionist has a variety of roles and responsibilities (Table 33.1) and should work closely with various members of the athlete support staff, such as team physician, sport scientists, strength and conditioning coaches, physiotherapists (and soft tissue therapists), psychologists, chefs and, of course, the technical coaching staff themselves. Effective and clear communication between all team members is essential to ensure a high-quality and, above all, consistent multidisciplinary service provision.

Table 33.1Typical responsibilities of the sport nutritionist working in elite sport

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