Be A Board Certified Specialist In Sports Dietetics
by Sarah Koszyk, MA, RD
Credibility and credentialing are everything when it comes to emphasizing one’s expertise. Through proper accreditation, expert dietitians can provide science and evidence-based recommendations when it comes to fueling for various sports. Many sports and fitness professionals love to give advice on what, when, and how to eat for sporting events. However, these people may not have the education or scientific background to provide up-to-date fueling recommendations based on the physiology and expenditure of the performance. So finding a specialized and experienced dietetic professional in sports dietetics is important in order to have competent skills for enhancing the athlete’s performance.
This article will explain the importance of becoming a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD), how you can become a CSSD, and how certification can enhance your career.
Sumner Brooks, MPH, RD, CSSD, a specialist in sports performance nutrition and founder of Not On A Diet, explains that the CSSD has a mandatory practice experience with athletes and active individuals which guarantees a certain level of competency. A non-CSSD may not be trained in some of the sports-specific areas such as nutrition policy and procedures for different levels of competition or evaluating supplement efficacy, safety, and quality. Kelly White, MS, RD, CSSD, LD, an adjunct instructor of Sports Nutrition at Mississippi State University, Sports, Wellness, and Clinical Dietitian at OCH Regional Medical Center in Starkville, and ambassador for PowerBar Team Elite also informs that non-certified CSSD’s may not understand an athlete’s specific carbohydrate, protein, and fluid needs at the various times such as pre-, during-, and post-workouts. If an athlete does not get this knowledge accurately, it could make or break their event.
To become a CSSD, you need to be a current registered dietitian for at least 2 years by the Commission on Dietetic Registration and have documentation of 1,500 hours of specialty practice experience as an RD within 5 years that you are applying to take the exam. Last of all, you need to apply for and pass a board certified exam.
Becoming a CSSD has truly enhanced both White’s and Brooks’ practice. White teaches Sports Nutrition to both undergraduate and master level students. The CSSD allowed her to teach at a Master’s level which pays more. Brooks states about 30% of her clients come to her specifically for sports nutrition guidance. Having the CSSD credential brings athletes to her because she can incorporate both medical nutrition therapy and training and competition fueling goals to optimize her client’s performances.
Now that you know the importance of becoming a CSSD, here are some tips for the exam!
- Prepare yourself using the recommended study materials and practice exam questions, advises Brooks.
- Obtain at least 2-3 of the required books and study those in order to gain a lot of knowledge and be well-rounded, informs White.
- Study in advance and create a study schedule by planning at least 1 hour a day or more, recommends Brooks.
- Both Brooks and White stress not to try to cram everything the week before the exam.
- So stay focused and be prepared and you’ll ace the test and be able to provide your clients with your Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetic expertise!
Sarah Koszyk is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Coach at Eating Free, an online adult weight management program. She also provides in-person nutrition coaching at a private practice, MV Nutrition, in San Francisco, CA, where she specializes in sports nutrition and adult and pediatric weight management. She is the founder of Family. Food. Fiesta. A family-based wellness program. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.