Functional Sports Nutrition

Many athletes and people that enjoy sport will google sports nutrition and look for a sports nutritionist to help them with their performance. Traditional sports nutrition focuses on the macros; this means the quantities and types of carbohydrates, fats and proteins. There could also be some investigation into areas such as those the GP covers, for example iron levels and female athletes. Then they may recommend sports supplements known as ergogenic aids, examples might be creatine or caffeine. Protein powders and energy drinks might also be recommended.

As a Nutritional Therapist I’m trained in Functional Sports Nutrition, that means I consider your nutrition in a very detailed way. I consider your overall health, the timing around the nutrients and also the ergogenic aids.

When you come to see me you can expect me to take a detailed health history, to recommend scientific laboratory tests, and to want to understand your overall lifestyle and your training plan.

Your body is composed of a number of interacting systems; Digestion, detox, immune, structure (bones, skin etc), energy, hormones (male/female, stress, thyroid) and communication (neurotransmitters and circulation).

These systems need to be optimised, they need macronutrients and micronutrients and more importantly everyone has individual needs. ‘Personalised Nutrition’ takes into account your individual needs. What does your body need, what can you tolerate, what’s the rest of your life like?

Typical Client Issues

Young Athlete with Upper Respiratory Tract Infections (Chest infection etc).

Take for example the young athlete who keeps getting upper respiratory tract infections. Based on research we might consider here that she needs more carbohydrates before or during exercise. When we layer on Functional Sports Nutrition we also find that there are certain foods compromising her immunity, they don’t affect her in day to day life but with exercise they become more of an issue. We help her to amend her diet, and put in healthy alternatives as well as ensuring optimum levels of anti-inflammatory nutrients. The clients goes away happy and able to train with more energy and less illness.

Corporate Athlete

Then there’s the high training, high achieving corporate athlete. They’re hard working in the office and the gym but are starting to notice a weakening of their immune system which is stopping them training, and without training they can’t progress. A high percentage of the immune system lives in the digestive system and so the nutritional therapist practising functional sports nutrition will offer food and supplement suggestions for the digestive system, as well as wanting to check the overall intake of energy from the diet. The client is commuting and eating out with work so we look at strategies to work with this.

Runner with Digestive Issues

How about the runner getting digestive discomfort? Yes all that joggling up and down might affect the digestive system mechanically, and we know that liquid is diverted away from the digestive system during exercise. However, during the consultation, we find out that their digestive system never is really as good as it could be and its always something on their mind. They’ve learnt to live with it but now it’s affecting their enjoyment and their performance in their sport. We work through a gut healing programme of food, supplements and lifestyle and the runner has a happy gut for their sport and life.

There's no typical client, but lots of reasons to get nutrition support:

Reasons for you to get Nutrition Support:

  • You haven’t got enough energy to train.

  • You want to be the best you can.

  • You have aches or aren’t recovering as fast as you might like to.

  • Female hormonal issues get in the way of your training programme.

  • You’re following a special diet, have suspected food reactions or are on medications.

  • The rest of your life is overloaded and you want nutrition support.

  • You’ve got sleep issues.

  • You’ve got digestive issues.

  • You need help getting into good habits.

  • You want to lose of gain weight.

As a Nutritional Therapist trained in Functional Sports Nutrition I am:

  • Empathetic to your passion about your sport and the need to balance it with the rest of your life.

  • Able to work with you, whatever your performance level.

  • Trained and registered to recommend scientific laboratory testing and professional supplements.

  • Able to consider macro and micronutrients (e.g. vitamins, zinc, magnesium etc) and other supplements (e.g. Fatty acids, herbs and spices like ginger and curcumin).

  • Able to recommend supplements suitable for elite sport.

  • Able to recommend protein powders and similar sports supplements.

  • Able to work alongside your GP if you have health issues or are on medications

  • I’m trained to give practical ideas and coaching and can offer a coaching programme to support you to really make changes.

  • Can take into account your wider needs such as incoporating ideas into the family meals, canteen lunches or eating out.

Functional sports nutrition is diverse and I really enjoy working with people who have a passion for sport and exercise! Please get in touch and let me help you.

Joanne Hart (Registered Nutritional Therapist, BSc (Hons), mBANT, CNHC), Yoga Teacher (BWY Dip) and Coach (Member of the Association for Coaching)

#sportsnutrition #sportsnutritionist

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