Qualification - Certificate in Sports Nutrition

Course CodeVRE038
Fee CodeCT
Duration (approx)600 hours

Focus on sports nutrition with this 600 hour certificate qualification. It takes you through general nutrition, then focus on sports nutrition.

There are four core modules made up of Sports Nutrition, Nutrition I, II and III. Then choose two elective modules from Therapeutic Nutrition, Nutrition for Weight Loss, Weight Loss Consultant or Children's Nutrition.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Qualification - Certificate in Sports Nutrition.
 Human Nutrition and Food 1 BRE102
 Human Nutrition and Food II BRE202
 Human Nutrition and Food III BRE302
 Sports Nutrition BRE303
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 4 modules.
 Nutrition For Weight Control BRE210
 Therapeutic Nutrition BRE211
 Child & Baby Nutrition BRE304
 Weight Loss Consultation Course BRE307

Note that each module in the Qualification - Certificate in Sports Nutrition is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.

Manage When and How Foods are Eaten

While it seems obvious that athletic performance will be affected by what the athlete eats; it may not be so obvious that the timing of their eating can also be very significant.

Food and fluid intake during training needs to be tailored so that athletes do not experience gastrointestinal discomfort during training sessions.  During intense training, athletes will need to do multiple training sessions, and may need to plan their meals around this training.  In order to meet their higher energy needs, they may have to eat several meals during the course of a day, plus snacks.

Athletes in general will perform better at a training session if they have eaten before exercise.  A pre exercise meal should not make the athlete feel “full” and uncomfortable during training.  How long an athlete needs to eat prior to exercise will vary between individuals.  Some studies have shown that eating a high carbohydrate meal (containing 200-300g of carbohydrates) an hour before exercise can enhance performance.  However, other studies have illustrated that this practice actually leads to a drop in blood sugar levels and fatigue.  And further studies have suggested that there is no advantage or disadvantage.  As with all areas of research, it is important to be aware of the data, and to do what works for the individual athlete.  Some athletes will enjoy a substantial meal 2-4 hours before training, whereas others will need to simply take in fluids during this time.


The main reason for eating carbohydrates is to supply energy.  Starches, fruits and vegetables contain high levels of carbohydrates.  These should account for 60% or more of the daily caloric intake of most people, including athletes.  Most carbohydrates we eat are converted to blood glucose initially then either used for energy, or else stored in the liver or muscle tissue as glycogen.  Excess carbohydrates may be converted into fat.  The body can also make glucose from by products of protein or fat.

Athletes who train daily will need a high carbohydrate diet to replace muscle glycogen –carbohydrates with a high glycemic index may help replenish used muscle glycogen if eaten immediately after exercise and every 2 hours after that.

Carbohydrate loading is a dietary technique designed to promote a significant increase in the glycogen content of both the liver and muscles.  Effective carbohydrate loading programs will increase the levels of glycogen in muscles by 2-3 times; and the glycogen content of the liver can double.

Muscle glycogen is essential for endurance exercise.  Carbohydrate loading is really helpful for individuals who need to maintain high intensity exercise over prolonged periods.  Carbohydrate is the most important source of energy for moderate high to high intensity exercise. It is the only energy source that is significant for both aerobic and anaerobic energy pathways.  

The likelihood of fatigue is increased by low levels of blood glucose or muscle glycogen. Taking carbohydrates before, and during prolonged exercise, may help delay fatigue; but these practices do not help performance for shorter events (unless they are correcting a deficiency in muscle glycogen).  However, many sports will involve repeated, short sharp bursts of energy (think of tennis, football, etc).  In these sports, carbohydrate loading can be very helpful.

There are a range of different carbohydrate loading techniques. A high carbohydrate diet and appropriate rest are the most important aspects for them all.  The classic carbohydrate diet that was prescribed in the past involved three stages: depletion, carbohydrate deprivation and then carbohydrate loading.    So an athlete might go for a 20km run to use up stored muscle glycogen.  The athlete would then take in very little carbohydrates for 2-3 days, whilst continuing to train normally.  Following this depletion, carbohydrate loading, where carbohydrates make up about 70% of caloric intake would commence.  During the loading stage, training intensity would be decreased – the athlete might even rest for 2-3 days.  This original method of carbohydrate loading can be very difficult in practice, especially for when the athlete has to keep exercising during depletion.  In addition, it may lead to muscle trauma which itself impairs further glycogen storage.

More modern methods of carbohydrate loading usually prescribe a change to a very high carbohydrate diet combined with 1-2 days of reduced activity or rest.  Research has shown that this technique still increases glycogen stores.

How much carbohydrate does the athlete need to consume?

A high carbohydrate diet will contain about 8-10 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body mass per day.  Glycogen loading for endurance events typically lasts for 2-3 days.  Because the loading period lasts for a couple of days, it is a good idea to use complex carbohydrates which are higher in nutrients than simple carbohydrates.  Simple carbohydrates will still increase muscle glycogen stores, but they are a less balanced food source.

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