Why hire a sports dietitian?

A sports dietitian provides nutrition counseling to athletes and active people with the goal of enhancing physical performance. A sports dietitian can help a client determine effective strategies for fueling before, during, and after a bout of exercise to maximize energy levels, optimally fuel muscles, and enhance recovery. Sports RDs frequently do the following tasks (according to SCAN):

  • Assess and analyze dietary practices, body composition, and energy balance (intake and expenditure) of athletes in the context of athletic performance and health.
  • Counsel athletes on optimal nutrition for exercise training (match nutrition to training phases and goals), competition, recovery from exercise, weight management, hydration, immunity, disordered eating, travel, and supplementation.
  • Counsel athletes on achieving and maintaining a level of body mass, body fat, and muscle mass that is consistent with good health and good performance.
  • Provide personalized meal and snack plans to promote achieving short- and long-term goals for athletic performance and good health.
  • Develop and counsel in hydration protocols.
  • Address nutritional challenges to performance, such as food allergies, bone mineral disturbances, gastrointestinal disturbances, iron depletion, and iron-deficiency anemia.
  • Provide medical nutrition therapy, as needed, to help manage or treat medical conditions.
  • Counsel athletes on optimal nutrition for recovery from illness or injury.
  • Provide liaison with in- and out-patient programs for conditions such as disordered eating.
  • Evaluate nutritional supplements, including herbal supplements, for legality, safety, quality, and efficacy; monitors use of appropriate supplementation.
  • Collaborate with the individual’s family, physician, coach, and other health professionals, as appropriate.


What is the CSSD credential and why should I care about it?

The CSSD credential denotes that a dietitian is a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics. This is not a simple certificate! To earn the CSSD credential, an individual has to complete the following tasks:

  1. Hold the title Registered Dietitian (RD), which requires:
    • Completion of a Bachelor degree (at minimum) and coursework outlined by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
    • Completion of an accredited supervised practice program, typically 6-12 months in duration
    • Passing the national RD exam
    • Maintaining continuing education experience
  2. Maintain Registered Dietitian status for 2 years.
  3. Document 1,500 hours of specialty practice experience as an RD.
  4. Pass the national CSSD exam.
  5. Re-certify every 5 years by documenting 1,000 hours of specialty practice experience and re-taking the CSSD exam.

The CSSD is the first and only sports nutrition certification program to be accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Created by the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, NCCA accreditation reflects achievement of the highest standards of professional credentialing (source).