Sports Nutrition

Learn about nutrition in sports to help better understand sports nutrition diet, nutrition for fitness, sports nutrition supplements, and the relationships between performance, health and food.

Course Code: BRE303
Fee Code: S2
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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Learn about Nutrition in Sports

When you exercise, you use up food that you have eaten. The components of food used during exercise are to a degree, different to those components which may be used when not exercising. It therefore stands to reason that people who do more exercise may need to have and use different foods to those who do not exercise as much. The nutrition required for greater sporting activity can in this respect be different to the  nutrition required for less sporting activity.

This whole premise is however complicated by the fact that the physical characteristics (including genetics), will vary from one individual to another; and the nutritional components used in some sports will be different to those used in other sports. In effect, every situation is different; and this reason alone is why you need to understand sports nutrition in a holistic and scientific way, if you are to make appropriate choices about sports nutrition.

Consider the Training Response

Different people will respond in different ways when subjected to the same training stimulus. The form of the response to training does however remain the same for everyone. There are several stages in the response to training; and each stage is modified by several different factors. When you understand the form of a training response, and the "modifiers”, you can then devise training programs which are as close as possible to the desired affect.

The stages in the training response are as follows

  1.  Tolerance Capacity - In the first part of training, the performance is generally adequate or perhaps better than adequate. In this phase, the person can tolerate the demands of training without excessive stress. Modifiers in this stage which effect its duration include: the level of exertion and the mental and physical condition of the person exercising.
  2. Fatigue - When the person begins to exercise beyond their capacity, the level of performance (perhaps measured by the quantity of energy being burnt), will start to deteriorate.
    The fatigue phase begins when this deterioration starts to occur. A person is in the fatigue phase when they are unable to produce an adequate response (i.e. perform tasks to an expected optimum level). The severity of training stimulus is a
    significant modifier affecting the duration of this stage.
  3. Recovery -This phase commences once exercise stops, or is reduced to a very low level, allowing energy reserves to again build, and performance potential to start increasing.
  4. Training Effect -After energy reserves have returned to "normal", they tend to continue building for a short time. The net result is that there has been a slight increase on what was the case prior to exercise. Properly designed training provides time for recovery and overcompensation to occur.
  5. Deterioration - The training effect is normally mainly a temporary effect; and without repeated exercise (and repeated training effects), there will be a "decay" over time.

This course will help you better understand sports nutrition diet, nutrition for fitness, sports nutrition supplements, and the relationships between performance, health and food.

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Human and Sports Nutrition.
    • a basic grounding in human nutrition as it relates to sport.
    • dietary nutrients
    • recommended daily intake
    • the balanced diet
    • carbohydrates (including the glycaemic index)
    • fats and proteins.
  2. Energy
    • the concept of chemical energy and how it is produced in the human body
    • calories and Kilojoules
    • energy systems and adenosine triphosphate
    • aerobic vs anaerobic respiration.
  3. Energy in the athlete’s body
    • how energy is utilised in the human body
    • aerobic capacity
    • respiratory quotient
    • metabolism
    • stages of exercise
    • energy sources during exercise
    • protein as an energy source.
  4. The training diet.
    • the principles of a training diet and how to design an effective training diet
    • carbohydrates
    • proteins and the protein needs of athletes
    • fats
    • other nutrients (such as antioxidants)
    • meal timing
  5. The competition diet
    • the principles behind and how to design a diet for an athlete for the days leading up to, during and after a competition
    • carbohydrate loading and the carbohydrate needs of athletes
    • guidelines for pre competition eating
    • eating during competition
    • competition
    • fatigue and nutrition
    • competition recovery requirements.
  6. Fluids
    • the importance of fluids in an athlete’s diet
    • the function of water in the human body
    • fluid needs in humans
    • water and solute regulation in the body
    • electrolytes
    • water and body temperature regulation
    • fluid intake before
    • during and after exercise
    • intra venous fluid replacement.
  7. The athlete’s body composition
    • body composition of an athlete, and methods of measuring body composition
    • components of the human body
    • body composition assessment techniques
    • importance of body composition to performance
    • body mass index.
  8. Weight Management
    • effective methods for weight reduction and body fat control where deemed necessary
    • mechanics of weight loss
    • why athletes want to lose weight
    • “making weight” and “cutting up”
    • weight loss and physical performance
    • overweight people
    • weight change and low energy diets
    • tips for losing body fat
    • key characteristics of a safe weight reduction diet
    • eating disorders.
  9. Training for Size and the use of Sports Supplements.
    • methods of increasing muscle mass and assesses the use of sports supplements
    • how to gain weight
    • gaining muscle mass
    • evaluating the use of sports supplements
    • types of sports supplements
    • supplements and drug testing.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Discuss human nutrition as it relates to sport.
  • Explain energy and how energy is produced in the body.
  • Explain how energy is utilised in the human body.
  • Understand the characteristics of, and to be able to design an effective training diet.
  • Design a diet for an athlete.
  • Understand the principles of and be able to design an athletic diet for the days leading up to, during and after a competition.
  • Explain the importance of fluids in an athletic diet.
  • Define the body composition of an athlete, and to become aware of the methods of measuring body composition.
  • Examine effective methods for weight reduction and body fat control where they are deemed necessary.
  • Examine methods of increasing muscle mass and to assess the use of sports supplements.

What You Will Do

  • What are essential nutrients?
  • What is the difference between fats and oils?
  • Briefly discuss the importance of carbohydrates, proteins and fats in the human diet.
  • Define energy.
  • Describe how ATP is converted to energy in the human body.
  • What is the difference between aerobic and anaerobic respiration?
  • How do actively contracting muscles get more ATP?
  • What are the two main sources of ATP for muscles that are performing intense activity?
  • Out of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, which substances provide the most efficient supply of energy to the human body?
  • Which energy sources are used throughout the exercise session?
  • Define the following terms:
    • Gluconeogenesis
    • RQ
    • VO2 max
    • TDEE
  • Name three things commonly measured during fitness tests.
  • Outline the primary differences between the nutritional needs of an athlete and the nutritional needs of members of the general population.
  • Design a diet for an athlete.
  • Why do athletes need to eat plenty of carbohydrates?
  • An athlete has just finished running a half marathon (21km). What advice would you give them to help speed their recovery?
  • Why do athletes need more fluid in their diet than the general population?
  • What are the signs of dehydration in an athlete?
  • Define the following terms:
    • Electrolyte
    • Body water balance
    • Dehydration
    • Hypohydration
    • Euhydration
    • Hyponatremia
  • Research three common ways of determining the % of body fat present.
  • Discuss the importance of body composition to sporting performance for a sport.
  • What is the difference between subcutaneous and visceral fat?
  • Research one of the eating disorders -
    • anorexia nervosa
    • bulimia nervosa
    • anorexia athletica
  • Why would an athlete want to lose weight?
  • What are five health risks of being overweight?
  • What are the possible benefits of lowered body fat in a sport.
  • What is the difference between a dietary supplement and a nutritional ergogenic aid?
  • Come up with three suggested meals for an athlete.
  • Research the effects of one of the nutritional ergogenic aids.

ACS is a Member of the Complementary Medicine Association.
ACS is a Member of the Complementary Medicine Association.
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ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
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Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.

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Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Jade Sciascia

Biologist, Business Coordinator, Government Environmental Dept, Secondary School teacher (Biology); Recruitment Consultant, Senior Supervisor in Youth Welfare, Horse Riding Instructor (part-completed) and Boarding Kennel Manager.
Jade has a B.Sc.Biol, Dip.Professional Education, Cert IV TESOL, Cert Food Hygiene.

Denise Hodges

Promotions Manager for ABC retail, Fitness Programmer/Instructor, Small Business Owner, Marketing Coordinator (Laserpoint). Over 20 years varied experienced in business and marketing. More recently Denise studied naturopathy to share her passion for health and wellness. Denise has an Adv.Dip.Bus., Dip. Clothing Design, Adv.Dip.Naturopathy (completing).

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