Is Sports Nutrition the Right Path for You?
Sports nutrition is a path with many possible destinations. If you are fascinated by sporting performance, seek to understand the body, want to help people reach their peak physicality, and are passionate about food, you might be the perfect fit for a degree in sports nutrition.
Nutrition is of increasing interest and importance in professional sporting arenas — in baseball, for example, top players are now tracking their nutrition with a laser focus. Mark Melancon of the Pittsburgh Pirates regularly analyzes his nutrition intake using a data-driven platform called InsideTrack, which measures more than 30 “biomarkers,” including his hormone and vitamin levels.
Sports teams that used to fill their clubhouses with fried food and soda now realize the importance of proper nutrition, and they’re beginning to hire more nutritionists and dietitians to help them power their bodies to athletic success.
With health and wellness being a bigger focus than ever before in the sports industry, that means there has never been a better time to embark on a career in sports nutrition.
Choosing a Degree Path in Sports Nutrition
Students wanting to study sports nutrition have several degree options to choose from depending on their interests.
Many students have already trained as registered dietitians or have undertaken undergraduate degrees in nutrition and are looking to make their skills more applicable and specialized. These people might find that a Master of Exercise Science is the perfect way to enhance their existing training. The exercise science degree focuses on communication and teamwork, allowing students to develop great professional relationships with sports dietitians, athletic trainers, coaches, and athletes themselves.
For students with experience in athletic training or strength and conditioning, the Exercise Science: Sports Nutrition program might be the way to go. It focuses on technical knowledge that they can use to give clients customized advice no matter what challenges they’re facing. For example, if you’re an athletic trainer who knows more about staying hydrated during a hot game, it will give you a leg up in your industry.
Once you’ve chosen which degree path is right for you, there is again a vast array of subjects and topics you can study to determine your own career direction: behavioral and physical health, public policy, wellness education, nutrition, social science, exercise, and medicine, to name a few.
Once armed with this specific training, graduates go on to succeed in a variety of fascinating workplaces.
Sports Nutrition as a Career
The options for students graduating with a health and wellness degree range far and wide.
For some, a career in strength and conditioning might be a great fit. Others become exercise physiologists, helping patients improve their general health and well-being through movement. And then some coach or pursue their own training as an athlete.
A popular career path for many sports nutrition graduates is entrepreneurship, with many choosing to start their own businesses. Melissa Hartwig is a prime example of an entrepreneurial thinker who used her training in fitness and nutrition to create a global brand. Her accessible nutrition program, The Whole30, helps people transform the way they eat in 30 days, and the print edition of the book has now sold more than 1 million copies.
No matter which career path you choose to take, the outlook for sports nutritionists is very bright. Employment prospects for people working in health and wellness fields are excellent. Prospects for health educators and community health workers are particularly exciting, with a 16 percent increase predicted through 2026.
There’s never been a better time to launch a career in sports nutrition, and whether you’re interested in athletic performance, general health and wellness, or coaching others to be the best they can be, there’s a career path for you. If this sounds like you, now’s the time to start your journey toward a fulfilling sports nutrition career.