EXPANDING THE ARENA OF SPORT NUTRITION: Optimizing Performance on Every Stage

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A sports RDN can help active individuals of all levels and abilities achieve their performance and/or health goals. At the end of this article, you should be able to apply your knowledge to:

Summary Statement

Outside of collegiate and professional athletics, the expertise of the sports RDN is highly underused. Find out how sports RDNs working with less traditional athlete populations have found their niche and are expanding the arena of sport nutrition practice.

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Among different styles of dance, ballet dancers tend to be the leanest and have the lowest body fat percentages (6,7). They generally have low energy intake (70%–80% of recommended) and high rates of eating disorders (EDs) or disordered eating behaviors. It is estimated that their risk for developing an ED is three times that of nondancers (8).

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The most common manifestations of low energy availability that Moretti encounters in her practice are menstrual irregularities, iron deficiency, gastrointestinal issues, and bone stress injuries. She explains that, “dancers are aesthetic athletes, which means there is a delicate balance between maintaining a strong body and supporting the aesthetic ideals of the profession. My role is to help these dancers achieve both.”

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“High schools are an untapped opportunity to provide and support both the development of good eating habits for performance but also for lifelong health and wellness. The reality is that only 6% to 8% of high school athletes will continue with their sport in college, and providing education to this group will hopefully set them on a path to become healthier and understand the role food has on their body, not just for performance but when sports end.”

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