Nancy Clark MS, RD, CSSD
SPORTS NUTRITIONIST & AUTHOR
for something nutrishus
Like others, Nancy is a dietitian I have looked up to throughout my career; I feel honoured to include her in this series. She's a trailblazer in sport nutrition, that's for sure, and I'm sure she has seen a lot of positive changes throughout her career, although there are still many opportunities for sports dietitians to explore.
Why did you become a RD?
Having an interest in cooking and food, I chose to attend a college that offered a nutrition degree. At the time I graduated from college, “everyone” did an internship and then took the exam to become an RD. I followed the crowd, and became an RD so I would be qualified to help people learn more about nutrition. Becoming a sports dietitian was not even on my radar screen. In 1973, very few people were talking about how to fuel to win.
What area of dietetics do you work in?
As a sports dietitian, my niche is nutrition for sports and exercise.
How would you explain what you do?
I work with a variety of sports-active people of all ages and athletic abilities, helping them win with good nutrition. A typical week might include teaching:
- a marathoner how to fuel well and set a personal record.
- a wrestler to make weight healthfully.
- a triathlete to have enough energy to complete an Ironman.
- a compulsive exerciser to transform exhaustive exercise into effective training that includes rest days and proper fueling.
- an eating disordered high school athlete to find peace with food.
What are your ‘typical’ daily/weekly tasks?
I counsel individual clients on three days a week. I generally present a workshop once a week to a club, team, or professional group; write a blog and/or an article, answer lots of emails, and work on projects. Never a dull moment!
What has been your career path?
I majored in Nutrition at Simmons College in Boston, completed my dietetic internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, worked for 5 years in clinical dietetics and nutrition education, and then went back to graduate school at Boston University, where I earned my masters in Nutrition with a focus on Exercise Physiology. My first job as a sports dietitian was at a sports medicine clinic, where I established myself as one of the nation’s first RDs to create a viable sports nutrition career. Part of my success was due to having written the best-selling Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook, as well as being a co-leader of a sports nutrition workshop series offered nationwide to groups of health professions. I co-led the workshop with an exercise physiologist. Currently, this workshop is available online. Today, I now enjoy my successful private practice in the Boston-area, as well as sell my handouts and PowerPoint presentations to help other RDs who want to get more involved in this niche.
What advanced education or special training do you have?
In addition to my master’s degree, I have taken an exam that qualifies me as a board certified specialist in sports dietetics (CSSD).
In an ideal world, what does the industry look like 5 years from now?
Five years from now, sports dietitians will be consultants or employees of most professional sports teams, including baseball, basketball, hockey and football. Sports RDs will also work with athletes coming up through the ranks, starting in high schools, then colleges and sub-elite and recreational sports teams. This is a good time to become a sports dietitian!
What tip(s) would you give to our readers?
If you want more information on how to become a sports dietitian, spend time at www.SCANdpg.org. SCAN is the Sports and Cardiovascular Nutrition Dietary Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
More about Nancy:
Workshop: Nutrition Sports Exercise CEUs