IOPN Diploma in Performance Nutrition: Course Overview

Our course is delivered by the IOPN team and 40+ World-class experts (Profs, PhDs, and elite practitioners) in the field of Sports and Exercise Nutrition.

 

FORMAT

100% online / distance Learning via Canvas
Supported by our team of tutors

COURSE DURATION

8 – 15 months
Flexible study format

START DATE

Four cohorts per year (Feb, May, Aug, Nov)
Apply now for the next available cohort

 

 

Your learning journey

1

Module 1: Sports Nutrition Fundamentals (Part 1)

Key topics: Nutrient and recommended intakes, Fuels sources for muscular activity, Nutrition and fatigue, Relative energy deficiency in sport

Introductory lecture: A primer on evidence-based practice by Dr. Laurent Bannock

Key learning topics:

  • Nutrients and recommended intakes: Categories of nutrients, their respective functions, chemical properties and influence on physiological processes; the basis for nutrient recommended daily intakes and methods of assessment for dietary intake and food composition in athletes.
  • Healthy eating: Dietary guidelines established for a balanced, healthy diet; the physiological effects of excessive intake of some nutrients; the impact of nutrient deficiencies on function, health and performance; a look at country and organization-specific dietary guidelines; food labelling, nutrient content/health claims on food packaging and food processing.
  • Skeletal muscle: Structure, function, key characteristics and role as it relates to exercise metabolism.
  • Substrate regulation: Metabolic pathways, key influencing factors to fuel-mobilization, fuel storage and fatigue processes during exercise.
  • Energy: Key terms, types of energy, forms of measurement and preferred methods of assessment in research and practice.
  • Human energy metabolism: An overview of its components and contribution in active and inactive people; energy balance and energy availability.
  • A primer on biochemical concepts: Organization of matter; chemical bonding; chemical reactions, ATP and energy; water; solutions and concentrations; acid-base balance and cell structure.

Supplemented with:

Position stands and seminal papers related to the learning material within Module 1

Podcast interviews with journal paper authors:

Key podcast interviews related to the learning material within Module 1

Student discussion threads available to discuss journal articles with PhD qualified tutors

Lectures by world-leading researchers and expert practitioners

  • Energy Systems: What, When & How? – Dr James Morton
  • Protecting cellular ATP – Dr Craig Sale
  • Exercise Metabolism 101: What We Need to Know and What Others Should Know – Dr Scott Robinson
  • Exercise Metabolism and Fatigue Mechanisms – Dr James Betts
  • Exercise Metabolism – Endurance Exercise – Dr Graeme Close
  • Exercise Intensity: Why does fat metabolism decline? – Dr James Morton
  • Skeletal Muscle: Structure, Construction & Plasticity – Dr James Morton
  • Limiting factors to maximal oxygen uptake: a heart or muscle problem – Dr James Morton
  • Nutrition & Fatigue – Dr James Morton
  • Metabolic Regulation: Nutritional Effects – Dr James Morton
  • Nutrition for Fat and Energy Balance – Dr James Betts
  • Assessing Energy Intake and Expenditure in Athletes – Dr Graeme Close
  • How to get your fat fit – the impact of exercise on adipose tissue – Dr Dylan Thompson
  • Exercise and non-physical activity thermogenesis – Dr Dylan Thompson
  • Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (Male Athletes) – Dr James Morton
  • Nutritional considerations for Eumeorrheic athletes – Dr Kirsty Elliot-Sale

Comprehensive case study assignment

Assignment focus: Identifying symptoms of Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport (RED-S) in a female endurance athlete and implementing nutrition strategies to remedy inadvertent low energy availability.

Stylized image of female runner

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Module 2: Sports Nutrition Fundamentals (Part 2)

Key topics: Gastric emptying, digestion and absorption, Carbohydrates, Protein and amino acids, Lipids

Key learning topics

  • Protein: Function, building blocks, structure, turnover (biochemical and physiological), amino acid metabolism during exercise, techniques of assessment, requirements, health risks and ergogenic aids.
  • Lipids: Structure, regulation (at rest and during exercise), metabolism (biochemical and physiological), fat supplementation, the regulation of lipid metabolism with diet composition and the health and performance effects.
  • Carbohydrates: Types and structure, regulation (at rest and during exercise), metabolism (biochemical and physiological), metabolic and performance effects of ingestion (before, during and after exercise), requirements and ergogenic aids.
  • Gastric emptying, digestion and absorption: Functions and anatomical components, digestion and absorption processes of macronutrients, absorption of water and micronutrients, dietary strategies for modulating the composition or metabolic and immunological activity of human gut microbiota, regulation of gastric emptying and common gastrointestinal symptoms during exercise and known factors shown to reduce symptoms.

Supplemented with:

Journal articles

Position stands and seminal papers related to the learning material within Module 2

Podcast interviews with journal paper authors:

Key podcast interviews related to the learning material within Module 2

Student discussion threads available to discuss journal articles with PhD qualified tutors

Lectures by world leading researchers and expert practitioners

  • Fuelling Exercise Part 1 – Dr Craig Sale
  • Fuelling Exercise Part 2 – Dr Craig Sale
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism and Supplementation – Post-exercise Nutrition – Dr James Betts
  • The Wondrous Properties of Carbohydrates – Dr James Morton
  • Glycogen Resynthesis: From Biochemistry to Practical Application – Dr James Morton
  • Glycogen Metabolism – Cause of Fatigue and/or training regulator? – Dr James Morton
  • Optimising Protein Nutrition for Muscle Mass Gain – Dr. Oliver Witard
  • Protein Nutrition and Beyond for Ageing Muscles – Dr. Oliver Witard
  • Beyond Muscle Hypertrophy: Protein Nutrition in Endurance Athletes – Dr Leigh Breen
  • The Muscle Anabolic Potential of Leucine – Dr Leigh Breen
  • Dietary Protein and Bone: Zero or Hero? – Dr Craig Sale
  • Fat Oxidation during Exercise – What’s New & What Do We Want to Know Next – Dr. Scott Robinson
  • IMTG in Exercise and Health – Scott Robinson PhD
  • Exercise and the GI System – Gethin Evans PhD
  • The Athlete’s Gut – Stephen Smith PHD (c)

Comprehensive case study assignment

Assignment focus: Identifying the nutrition demands and barriers to performance during a multi-sport endurance event (during training and competition) that requires international travel in a recreational, male endurance athlete.

Stylized image of male runner

3

Module 3: Sports Nutrition Fundamentals (Part 3)

Key topics: Metabolic regulation, Fluid balance and water requirements, Vitamins and minerals, Nutrition supplements

Key learning topics

  • Water requirements and balance: Thermoregulation (at rest and during exercise); health and performance consequences of dehydration; mechanisms of heat illness; the impact of fluid intake before and during exercise; fluid intake strategies for effective hydration; hydration requirements and fluid composition for effective fluid replenishment during and after exercise.
  • Micronutrients: The function, role and requirements of vitamins and minerals as they relate to metabolism, health and performance; micronutrient amounts found in food; athlete groups susceptible to micronutrient insufficiency; assessment of micronutrient status and ergogenic impact of certain micronutrient supplementation.
  • Nutrition supplements: Supplements with an evidence-based ergogenic potential (type, mechanism, practical relevance and dose) and hazards and risks to sport nutrition supplementation.
  • Key principles of metabolic regulation: The role of hormones on fuel-use at rest and during exercise; the influence of adrenaline and insulin on glycogenolysis, lipolysis and glycogenesis; the function of allosteric effectives for regulating enzyme activity and the role of AMPK as a signalling molecule.
  • Metabolic regulation in high-intensity, intermittent and endurance sport events: Predominant fuels for the fire; regulation as it relates to exercise intensity, duration, nutrition and training status; ergogenic aids as they relate to substrate support and fatigue mechanisms.

Supplemented with:

Journal articles

Position stands, seminal papers and info videos related to the learning material within Module 3

Podcast interviews with journal paper authors:

Key podcast interviews related to the learning material within Module 3

Student discussion threads available to discuss journal articles with PhD qualified tutors

Lectures by world-leading researchers and expert practitioners

  • Fluid Balance and Exercise – Dr Gethin Evans
  • Optimising Post-Exercise Hydration – Dr Lewis James
  • Dehydration and Exercise Performance – Dr Lewis James
  • Shedding Some Light on Vitamin D – Dr Daniel Owens
  • Molecular Action of Fatty Acids in Skeletal Muscle – Dr Leigh Breen
  • To Supplement or Not to Supplement? – Dr Craig Sale
  • An Update on Buffering Agents for Sports Performance – Dr Craig Sale
  • Creatine – Dr Craig Sale
  • Caffeine – Dr Craig Sale
  • Dietary Nitrate & Exercise Performance – Dr Andy Jones
  • An Introduction To Cell Signalling – Dr David Lee Hamilton
  • Metabolic Regulation in Sport & Exercise – Dr Scott Robinson
  • Metabolic Regulation in High Intensity Exercise – Dr Scott Robinson
  • Metabolic Regulation in High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise – Dr James Morton
  • Carbohydrates for endurance exercise: how do they work and what is the best source? – Dr Javier Gonzalez
  • Concurrent Training: Nutritional Strategies – Dr James Morton

Comprehensive case study assignment

Assignment focus: Work within a multi-disciplinary team prescribing, ordering and monitoring the use of dietary supplements within a high-intensity, intermittent sport event.

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Module 4: Advanced Sports Nutrition

Key topics: Nutrition and training adaptations, Body weight regulation, Nutrition and body composition, Personalised nutrition

Key learning topics

  • Nutrition and training adaptation: Main adaptations to endurance and resistance training; the molecular instigators underlying change; molecular, cellular, and organ level changes and their respective timelines throughout the training process; the influence of substrate availability and antioxidants to signalling, protein synthesis and training adaptation; and the effects of nutrition on sleep quality and recovery from injury.
  • Nutrition and immune function in athletes: Main components and functional mechanisms of the immune system; common illnesses and allergies experienced by athletes; the difference between infection, allergy, and intolerance; the effects of exercise on immune function and infection-risk; nutrition’s influence on immune function (purported mechanisms, macronutrients and micronutrients) and strategies to reduce exercise-induced immunosuppression.
  • Body composition, weight management and eating disorders: An overview and critical evaluation of body composition techniques; normative ranges for bodyweight and body fat for adults and various athletic populations; appetite regulation as it relates to weight management; energy balance; the influence of exercise on appetite, losing body fat and bodyweight; the application of different dietary methods for weight-loss; rapid weight-loss strategies and the negative repercussions; safe acute weight-loss strategies; metabolic adaptation and weight-gain; characteristics, prevalence and risk-factors of eating disorders and the health and performance effects.
  • Personalized nutrition: Nutrition periodization; nutrigenomics in sport; dietary guidelines for different age groups, gender and specific sports.

Supplemented with:

Journal articles

Position stands, seminal papers and info videos related to the learning material within Module 3

Podcast interviews with journal paper authors:

Key podcast interviews related to the learning material within Module 3

Student discussion threads available to discuss journal articles with PhD qualified tutors

Lectures by world leading researchers and expert practitioners

  • Nutrient Sensing & Exercise Adaptations – David Lee Hamilton PhD
  • Training Adaptations: Effects on Substrate Utilisation – Dr James Morton
  • Nutritional Strategies To Optimise Recovery – The Balance Between Recovery & Adaptation – Dr Graeme Close
  • PGC-1 Alpha: A master Regulator of Endurance Training Adaptation? – Dr James Morton
  • Nutrition Periodization – Dr James Morton
  • Free Radicals & Exercise: Has the Poacher Turned Game Keeper – Dr Graeme Close
  • Exercise, Immunity and Infection Risk in Athletes – Glen Davison PhD
  • Immunology and Nutrition – Glen Davison PhD
  • Nutrition & Immune Function: Can We Do Anything To Offset The Winter Sniffles? – Dr Graeme Close
  • Gut Hormones & Regulation of Appetite – Gethin Evans PhD
  • Nutritional Strategies to Influence Appetite – Javier Gonzalez PhD
  • Breakfast for athletes: advisable, inappropriate or irrelevant? – Javier Gonzalez PhD
  • Over-feeding, Under-Feeding and Fat Balance – Dr James Betts
  • Exercise Nutrition For Older Adults – Leigh Breen PhD
  • Exercise, Nutrition and Ageing – Time to Run for Your Life? – Dr Graeme Close
  • Nutritional Considerations for Hormonal Contraceptive Use (Athletes) – Kirsty Elliott-Sale PhD

Comprehensive case study assignment

Assignment focus: Provide a periodized nutrition strategy to an athlete competing in a weight-specific event that ensures they reach their desired goal-weight safely.

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5

Module 5: Advanced Sports Nutrition: Science to Practice

Key topics: Scope of practice, Nutrition for high-performance athletes, Nutrition in endurance sports, Nutrition in high-intensity intermittent sports, Nutrition for injury and rehabilitation, Reflective practice

Knowledge recall on topics studied on the Diploma:

  • Gastric emptying, digestion and absorption: The impact of exercise intensity, mode, duration and nature of food/fluid ingested on gastric emptying rates; main mechanisms that contribute to the trainability of the gut; common gastrointestinal problems that occur during exercise and factors that exacerbate and reduce these problems.
  • Carbohydrates: The impact of training intensity on carbohydrate metabolism; the regulation of blood glucose at rest and during exercise; the metabolic and performance effects of carbohydrate ingestion during exercise; mechanisms involved in glycogen metabolism; guidelines for carbohydrate intake before, during and after exercise; guidelines for athletes involved in repeated days of strenuous; prolonged physical activity and training and the impact of carbohydrate availability on training adaptation.
  • Protein and Amino Acids: Digestion and absorption kinetics of dietary protein; the fate of available amino acids for the purpose of muscle anabolism; the impact of energy availability on muscle protein synthesis; recommendations for total protein intake for the promotion of muscle hypertrophy; recommendations for total protein intake for endurance sports; exercise-induced adaptations and muscle protein synthesis and the protein ergogenic aids on augmenting protein balance and training adaptation.
  • Lipids: Biochemical pathways in fat metabolism; the impact of exercise intensity and duration on fat metabolism; the interactions between carbohydrate and fat metabolism in response to exercise and the metabolic and performance effects of high fat diets.
  • Water and fluid requirements: The physiological and performance effects of dehydration; methods for quantifying dehydration status; the effects of fluid and electrolyte intake before and during exercise on exercise performance; the hydration needs of an athlete during exercise; strategies that help ensure the fluid requirements are met and the composition of drinks that effectively rehydrate athletes during and after exercise.
  • Nutrition and training adaptation: The main adaptations to resistance and endurance training; the mechanisms and signalling pathways that cause distinct skeletal muscle phenotypes; the influence of hormones, training status, nutrient status and extreme environments on augmenting exercise-induced adaptations.
  • Nutritional supplements: An overview of evidence informed dietary supplements for treating nutrient deficiencies; improving sports performance; immune function, recovery and injury management; mechanisms of action; types, dosing protocols and application in specific sport events and the potential hazards and risks of sport nutrition supplements.
  • Energy availability: The difference between energy availability and energy balance; prevalence of low energy availability in certain sport events; field-based limitations to the estimate of energy availability; metabolic, reproductive, anatomical and hormonal surrogate markers associated with low energy availability and sex and sport-specific effects of low energy availability.
  • Diets and weight management: The role of metabolic adaptation during weight-loss; mechanisms for metabolic adaptation; evidence-based weight management strategies for athletes; the impact of macronutrients and their contribution to weight-loss and the impact of a periodized approach to dieting in athletes.

Supplemented with:

Journal articles

Position stands, seminal papers and info videos related to the learning material within Module 3

Podcast interviews with journal paper authors:

Key podcast interviews related to the learning material within Module 3

Student discussion threads available to discuss journal articles with PhD qualified tutors

Lectures by world leading researchers and expert practitioners

  • Nutrition for High Performance Athletes – Dr Sophie Killer
  • Football Nutrition – Dr James Morton
  • Match-Day Team Sport Nutrition Considerations – Dr Mark Russell
  • Advanced Physiological Testing in Professional Boxing – Dr Scott Robinson
  • From Science to Practice: Applying Sound Performance Nutrition Support in Elite Sport – Dr Mayor Ranchordas
  • Do Rugby Players Need Their Own Nutrition Guidelines? – Dr Graeme Close
  • Half Time in Team Sports: An Opportunity to Influence Subsequent Performance? – Dr Mark Russell
  • From the lab to the road: testing to inform practice and endurance performance – Matthew Furber PhD
  • Nutrition & Injury Rehabilitation – Dr James Morton
  • Educating the Future Elite: Reflections from International Youth Rugby – Dr Daniel Owens
  • Understanding the response to training and competition: implications for athlete performance and health – Dr Craig Twist
  • Reflective Practice for Sports Nutritionists – Dr James Morton

Comprehensive case study assignment

Assignment focus: Three separate case study scenarios:

  1. Provide evidence-led nutrition strategies for managing an athlete’s body composition over the course of a calendar year – with a focus on body composition periodization and energy availability.
  2. Provide an evidence-led nutrition strategy that strategically positions nutrients in a way that amplifies endurance adaptations from exercise.
  3. Provide an evidence-led, nutrition strategy that aims to hasten an athlete’s recovery from injury.

Final task: Produce a written reflection of one or more aspects of one’s learning experience on the Diploma.

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Our unique ‘Science to Practice‘ 3-step process

Anatomy of a study module

 

(Science)

Textbook readings, journal papers, podcast interviews with journal paper authors, quizzes and more!
*Supported by PhD qualified tutor

 

Lectures by top practitioners and researchers, podcasts, videos, consensus statements
*Supported by expert tutor

(Practice)

Case Study Final Project based on ‘real-world’ client scenarios
*Supported by SENr Registered Practitioners

Eloy Rodriguez

The best investment I have made in my professional career.

The Diploma has allowed for me to enhance the results I can achieve with my clients, which has led to professional doors opening in ways I never imagined!

Eloy Rodriguez, Strength & Conditioning Coach
Paul Garrod

The IOPN Diploma really is second to none!

I can honestly say I have learnt so much, not only about nutrition for sport and exercise physiology, but also how to practically apply the knowledge to real world scenarios.

Paul Garrod, Performance Coach
Mary Curristin

The course has significantly exceeded my expectations.

The step by step process in each module has helped me build, improve and enhance my skillset and the continuous tutor support really sets this diploma at a top-class level.

If you want to learn, develop and put science into practice at an advanced level, this is the course for you.

Mary Curristin, Sports Scientist, Research Assistant