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Students in sports nutritionist roleStudents in sports nutritionist role

How do you extract the maximum value and nutrients from your food for a week full of physical exercising? Louise and Isabelle, both studying Nutrition and Health at Metropolitan University College, set out as sports nutritionist during an internship with Danish professional football club Brøndby IF.

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Sports nutrition is about extracting the most out of normal food and improving your physical condition and performance. Photo: Colourbox.

8 December 2017| Stine Munk Rasmussen | Translated 9 January 2018

Food and hydration is important for your athletic performance, especially so when it comes to sports that require a wide array of muscles to work in tandem. Football, for example, requires both the optimal fitness level and muscle mass to reach your maximum potential performance. In other words, knowledge on nutrition is extremely important to optimise your athletic performance.

Louise Udstad Petersen and Isabelle Ottesen are both studying a professional bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Health at Metropolitan University College. The degree programme includes internship periods, and the two students have just completed 7 weeks of internship at the Danish professional football club Brøndby IF. Here, they counselled elite youth players (Under-15) on sports nutrition.

“You burn a lot of energy when playing football. That is why it is important to consume carbohydrates (carbs). Many people involved in sports focus on protein in their diet. Protein is good for rehabilitation of muscles, but the carbs are absolutely vital as an energy source,” said Louise Udstad Pedersen.

During the students’ internship, they came up with creative ways of sharing knowledge, including a workshop for the parents of the young players.

“We organised a ‘cooking-workshop’ for the young players’ parents. We gave them our take on healthy snacks containing the right amount of protein and carbs. For example, wholegrain crispbread (Danish: fuldkornsknækbrød) cut into batons and a dip based on edamame beans,” said Louise Udstad Petersen.

​Read more about higher education programmes Nutrition and Health (Danish), or Global Nutrition and Health (English) 

More than energy bars

Louise and Isabelle also formulated a diet and meal plan for an injured player who had gained weight after a long spell on the sidelines. In combining theoretical knowledge and practice, they were able to significantly lower the football player’s body fat percentage, and he lost over 4 kilos during the course of following the meal plan.

Lecturers Lasse Kristian Suhr and Rikke Larsen followed the internship closely, and they are delighted about the positive learning experiences accumulated from the internship and the football club. The two lecturers have co-authored a book with Mathias Kolringen on sports nutrition and food consumption before, during and after workout.

“Sports nutrition is more than just expensive energy bars and protein shake – it is about extracting the most out of normal food. The diet and meal plan is not a quick-fix for great sports results, but you can increase the quality of the exercise session and performance level by eating correctly,” said Lasse Kristian Suhr, Lecturer in the Department of Nutrition and Midwifery

The risk of Injuries from excessive exercising may even be reduced by the right diet:

“Choosing the right diet and meal plan may shorten the recovery period between sessions and reduce the risk of injuries when working hard. For our students, finding an internship in the professional sports domain is a great choice because of the inherent focus on optimising outcomes of practice sessions,” said Rikke Larsen, Lecturer in the Department of Nutrition and Midwifery. 

You can read the Danish article here