“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.”
Henry David Thoreau

Cultivating the habit of exercising regularly and eating well will help improve your overall wellness and health. It is imperative to take care of your body in all the ways you can to prevent sicknesses and diseases that are deadly such as heart diseases, diabetes, cancer, and obesity.

Most Nigerians mainly have the head knowledge of eating healthy but do not practice it. The reasons Nigerians come up with excuses when questioned about not practicing a healthy lifestyle include: some have the belief that healthy eating is tedious and also expensive, and others believe the process of having a healthy meal prepared is time-consuming.

The latter reason is somewhat exact; it is easier for you to grab a wrap of shawarma or burger from a food outlet rather than getting home to make a balanced meal in your home. However, there are health professionals who can help you out with this by giving you health tips and tricks, simple recipes, and meal plans.

These health professionals are referred to as nutritionists, their goal and aim is to help their clients drop lousy eating habits and take up healthy eating habits.

In Nigeria, there are variations of ways on how to become a sports nutritionist; a nutritionist can either work in a public sector in places like schools, nursing homes and hospitals, or in the private sectors such as working with athletes, and politicians. Sports nutritionists are nutritionists who have previously studied nutrition, dietetics and are registered.

Basic Description of a Sports Nutritionist

Olympic swimmers
Sports nutritionists help athletes by advising them on the type of form that works well for the body and that which will give them the strength to perform excellently when they come. (Source: Unsplash)

A sports nutritionist works mainly with athletes and sports teams, compared to a general nutritionist who works with people from all works of life. The nutritionist helps athletes perform at their best by creating a nutrition program and give them health advice.

Also, a sports nutritionist understands the effect that all categories of foods have on the human body. They study the quantities and types of fluids and foods that an athlete should consume and the organic substances that are most important for an athlete.

Nutrition of athletes is essential, this enables them to have endurance and strength to perform exceptionally. A sports nutritionist works with an athlete or a sports team from the point of preparing for completion, during the completion, and also during the recovery process.

To become a sports nutritionist in Nigeria requires that you have a university degree in any nutrition course. Essentially, sports nutritionist is more concerned about giving out the right advice to athletes and implementing new food material into their meal plan. Every individual who is an athlete possesses different body size shape, and also their metabolism rate differs. Obviously, the required meal on game day is very different from the meal to be consumed after the game.

More so, during training days, while preparing for major events, sports nutritionists ensure that the athletes they manage are healthy and are also eating right. Athletes who are into strength sports, such as running, weight lifting bodybuilding, and many more, require healthy meal combinations. Runners, swimmers, and footballers need some certain level of food that contains high calories and energy, to perform optimally. It is then highly imperative that a sports nutritionist consult his or her team member to be able to understand their nutritional needs and offers the right advice.

Aiming for the peak is, therefore, the ultimate goal of any sports nutritionist working with sports teams or athletes. More so, a sports nutritionist is required to have a wide range of experience, knowledge, and professional training to positively influence the athletes.

It could be difficult sometimes for sports nutritionists as the role involves that the athletes are readily on their peak and perform to their best in all competition. Imperatively sports nutritionist does not only possess skills which make them exceptional in their jobs, while they still possess some other outstanding skills. Below are some crucial skills that set a sports nutritionist out and qualities they should possess:
Good communication and language skills: The relationship between science and healthy eating habit could be somehow difficult to make sense of sometimes. However, sports nutritionist, need to be able to relate how essential it is to the athletes. More so, workshops, training, seminars, public speaking, and other methods of passing information about healthy tips to the athletes are employed by the sports nutritionist.

Exceptional Thinking: Obviously, athletes might require some specific needs of a diet, which is meant to solve a situation in their body quickly. It is the job of sports nutritionist to prepare these meal plans in an effective way tailored to solve the problem faced by athletes. Besides, some of the meal plans created by the sports nutritionist need to be very dynamic and creative while it is also interesting to the athletes' concern.

Conversational in nature: As a sports nutritionist, you wouldn’t make it far in your career path if you do not have people skills. You should be able to create a good relationship with the team members, carry them along in all the aspects of their dietary plans. A nutritionist that has great skills in relating more with people goes far ahead in their carer line and securing their jobs.

Generally, it would be best if you understood that you would need to learn a lot of details, steps, guides, and essential knowledge in nutrition courses.

Where to Study Sports Nutrition

Classroom
Sports nutritionist learns and gave knowledge from attending classes at a reputable university in Nigeria. (Source: Unsplash)

To become a point of reference in the sports nutritionist career line, you would need to undergo necessary training and knowledge and acquire relevant certification and qualification to compete in that space.

However, to become a sports nutritionist in Nigeria, you are expected to have undergone 4 to 5 years of undergraduate studies in an accredited university and also offer specialised training in sports nutrition. You would be expected to have undergone the rudiments of sports nutrition either with a sports training academy in Nigeria or outside the country, which can be done online.

Besides, the importance of athletes cannot be overrated; this means that they would require to see certification and accreditation from relevant sports authorities certifying you as a sports nutritionist before you are hired.

Imperatively, there are some institutions across the country that avails you the opportunity to study sports nutrition. As aspiring students who are willing to become a professional sports nutritionist below are some schools for your consideration:

University of Ibadan: located in the ancient city of Ibadan, the school offers a four years course on human nutrition and dietetics. Students are equipped with the general knowledge of the human body, essential nutrients that are required for the body, and what makes the body function properly.

During this study, as a student, you would be intimated with relevant information on how nutrient intake affects overall health. After graduating from the four years course, you can then process to deepen your knowledge about sports nutrition through some sports academy, specialised training, and learn how to handle athletes.

Imo State University: if you are ready for a vast experience in nutrition courses that are associated with human development and general body anatomy. You would need to associate yourself with this school and further your studies after graduating.

Specialising in sports nutrition would help you understand the importance of food to an athlete’s performance. There are some essential modules relating to sports nutrition, which is not covered at the undergraduate level.

Although there are schools where to study nutrition in Nigeria, specializing in sports nutrition would require that you have extra training and experience before you can work as an experienced sports nutritionist. Individuals who have flares for sport can then broaden their scope of sport fanatic to a career that would help them in the long run. However, it is still possible to become a nutritionist without having a degree in nutrition.

Health Tips From Sports Nutritionists

Street jogger
Taking up early morning or evening run is recommended because it helps you lose weight and also keep your body fit. (Source: Unsplash)

All that matters to you as a professional athlete is having excellent body shape, and also caring for your body correctly. You can only make money through the activities provided by your body. It then means you have to be extra careful about your body and preparing your body for wining completions. Seeking advice on what to eat or what not to eat from sports nutritionist would help you guide your body correctly for optimum performance. Some health tips to be adhered to by athletes from experience sports nutritionist are highlighted below:

Constantly drink water: water helps your body stay healthy, it is essential that you take up to 8 glasses of water per day. Your body would be well hydrated by drinking enough water. More so as an athlete, you would need to drink more water as regarding your hours of training and exercising.

Stay away from refined sugar: as an athlete, you need to avoid consuming refined sugars; this can affect your overall performance. Soft drinks are a significant source of artificial sugars, and consumption of this can make you gain weight over time. Healthy sugars that are found in fruits can be consumed as against refined ones.

Becoming a sports nutritionist in Nigeria is not as complicated as you thought. If you have a flair for the career as a sports nutritionist, you would be expected to undergo the necessary training, and you would eventually get a rewarding job. You can as well take up nutritionist jobs in hospitals where athletes consult in time of sickness or injury from sports activities.

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