ISSA SN Chapter 2: Food, ingredients, and Nutrients: An Overview

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Chapter Goals:

  • Describe and define the terms relating to the nutrients and ingredients.
  • Know about the additives to food that are approved by the FDA and also regulated through them.
  • Micro and macronutrients. 
  • Comparisons will be made between the US and Canadian definitions of dietary supplements and health products that are natural.
  • Know about the many food and supplement topics, nutraceuticals, food safety, misbranding, GRAS, adulteration, and foodborne illness. 


We have some main nutrient categories for increasing athletic performance and fitness. 

The essential nutrients are the nutrients that the body cannot produce for itself that cannot be made in sufficient enough amounts for our own good health. We group these essential nutrients into two main categories of macro and micronutrients. Macronutrients are the nutrients needed in pretty large amounts, like carbs, fats, and proteins. The micronutrients are the ones that are present in the diet in much smaller amounts, like the vitamins and minerals we intake. We will expand on these details throughout this chapter. 


Food means the articles used for food and/or drink for men and other animals, chewing gum, or articles that are used to be components of those two things. 

Processed food means any food that is a raw agricultural commodity subject to being processed in ways like canning, cooking, freezing, dehydrating, or milling the food. 

The important thing for us to consider about the sports nutrition side of things is that foods will be our sources of essential nutrients and water, along with other things promoting health and performance. 


Ingredients focused on food related to the nutritive aspects and substances like the macro and micronutrients, the growing of bioactive substances, water, and metabolite substances like creatine or beta-alanine. 

Types of ingredients

  • Preservatives prevent food spoiling due to bacteria, mold, and fungi. They also work to slow changes in color, flavor, and texture or delay the rancidity. Maintain freshness overall. 
  • Sweeteners are used to add sweetness with or without the added caloric values. 
  • Color additives offset color loss because of the exposure to light, air, temperature extremes, moisture, and storage conditions. They correct any natural variations in color that may occur. 
  • Flavors and Spices ass to any specific flavors that come as natural or synthetic. 
  • Flavor enhancers obviously enhance the flavors that are already present in our foods. 
  • Fat replacers give the expected texture of a creamy feeling in foods with reduced fat. 
  • Nutrients replace our lost vitamins and minerals in the processed foods that remove them. They also add nutrients to something that may be lacking in our diet. 
  • Emulsifiers are the ingredients that give a smooth mixing of other ingredients and prevent them from separating. 
  • Stabilizers and thickeners are used to produce a uniform texture and improve the taste.
  • pH control agents and acidulants are for controlling the acidity and the alkalinity for the prevention of spoilage. 
  • Leavening agents are used to promoting baked goods rising during cooking. 
  • Anti-caking agents keep powdered foods free-flowing and prevent the absorption of moisture.
  • Humectants are used to retain moisture in foods. 
  • Yeast nutrients are for the promotion of yeast growth.
  • Dough strengtheners and conditioners are the ingredients that are for the production of more stable dough. 
  • Firming agents are for maintaining crispness and firmness. 
  • Enzyme preparations are for modifying proteins, polysaccharides, and fats.
  • Gases are the last nutrient type to know. These are for serving as propellants, aerates, or creating carbonation. 

Dietary Supplement Definition (and Dietary Ingredient, too)

Dietary Supplement in the U.S. means:

Some product besides tobacco that intends to supplement our diet by containing one or more of these:

  • Some vitamin
  • Some mineral
  • Some herb or botanical item
  • Some amino acid

Some dietary substances to be used by a man for supplementation of the diet through increases in the total dietary intake

Some concentrate, metabolites, extracts, constituents, or a combination of the ingredients mentioned. 

Some products that:

  • Is intended to be ingested in the form in the previous section
  • Is not represented for use as a standard food or sole meal item
  • Is labeled as a dietary supplement


  • Include one article approved as a new drug 

Does not: 

  • Include anything approved as a new drug and certified as an antibiotic.

Dietary supplement in Canada essentially means:

A plant or plant material, an alga, a bacterium, a fungus, or some non-human animal material.

An extract or isolated substance described above, the primary structure molecularly is identical to its before isolation or extraction.

Any of these vitamins:

  • Biotin, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, vitamins A, D, C, E, B6, and B12. 
  • An amino acid
  • An essential fatty acid
  • A synthetic copy of some substance defined above
  • Some mineral
  • Some probiotic

Macronutrients: Meeting Energy and Growth Requirements

These are the nutrients that are needed every day in large quantities, like in ounces or grams. These will be the carbs, fats, and proteins we take in. this also includes water. Macronutrients are vital for giving the body energy supplies and building blocks needed for repair and growth.

Protein is one of the nutrients that will give calories to the body. It is essential and serves to build many structures in the body, like blood, muscle, and skin. It gives us four calories worth of energy per gram and we find this inside of main sources like beans, dairy, nuts, chicken, tofu, and many more. Protein is made up of amino acids, nine of which are essential amino acids. So they are unable to be synthesized within the body. The makeup of amino acids relative to the requirements of humans determines the protein quality. These requirements are based on our need for growth, maintenance, and also for repair. Protein quality is found based on the amino acids’ acid composition and digestibility.

Fat is one of the major sources of energy for our diets. Fats help us to absorb the vitamins that are soluble only in fat. These are vitamins A, D, E, and K. Some fats will raise our blood cholesterol levels and thus increase our risk for things like heart disease. Other fats are combos of mono and polyunsaturated fats. 

Energy expenditure is the amount of energy we use in our body, measured in calories. We expend these calories for breathing, sending blood through vessels, digesting foods, maintaining our posture, and staying physically active. 

Carbohydrates are going to be the main source of energy. They represent four calories per gram, and they are used in the form of glucose. 

Alcohol is one macronutrient we do not really mention, as it is not essential. But, it is taken in by many people in big quantities, like other macronutrients, and it still counts. These are going to be referred to as empty calories for us.

Fat has the greatest amount of energy per gram by far in the macronutrients. We used to assume that all calories are metabolized similarly, but that is not true. The macronutrients vary greatly in their calories and if not calories, then they still vary based on what it takes to actually digest them (carbs and protein have the same calories per gram). 

Protein will be a nutrient that is spared to be used as energy due to its many roles in the body that cannot be filled without it. It is an absolute last resort for us to use. Instead, the body prefers to use the carbs and fats first, in that order. 

Thermogenesis is the process where the body generates heat, also energy through increases in the rate of metabolism above normal levels. The thermogenic response would then be the rise in that metabolic rate. The metabolic rate is the total caloric expenditure per day.

We have several types of carbs to ingest, and they supply the body with varying energy supplies. This is based on the speed at which they get to the bloodstream. 

Macronutrient Manipulation/Modulation

Constant intake of proteins and other macronutrients is needed for optimal nutrition. The actual makeup of these nutrients will vary based on the time of your training, your meals, and resting times. We term this as macronutrient modulation, or the practice of varying the ratios in the macronutrients we get in the diet to meet specific metabolic needs for enhancing performance. 

One example can be during an activity. If we train for an hour or more, we take in water or some hypotonic beverage filled with carbs and electrolytes to prevent our glycogen from depleting.

Water and Electrolytes

Water is absolutely essential for life to go on. It does not provide anything in terms of calories or nutrition. 

Water has always been seen as quite important, but research shows that keeping the optimum levels is important for staying at peak performance. 

The electrolyte balance is something to keep a handle on. This is the ratio of chloride, potassium, sodium, and other electrolytes within the body. 

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Micronutrients: Metabolic Cofactors

This is an even more diverse group than the macronutrients. They are going to be measured in tiny quantities like milligrams and micrograms. They do not provide significant calories but instead will act as cofactors in the makeup of biomolecules. They perform many structural roles, function as electrolytes, and function as enzymes for the body. 

Vitamins are the organic compounds that are needed for growth and maintaining our health. We classify these into fat and water soluble vitamins. The fat soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K, which tend to store in the body’s fat tissues. The water soluble vitamins include Vitamin C and all the b vitamins. These vitamins are not used for energy production, but they often have roles in the process itself. 

Mineral nutrients are inorganic nutrients that are found in the body and make up around 4 percent of our weight. They will be needed for the body’s structures and the many metabolic processes. 

Nutrient Density

Foods have macronutrients and micronutrients in many different combinations and amounts. Many things are not found in some foods. So, balancing your diet and varying your foods is highly important.


Bioavailability is the ability of some ingested nutrients to cross from the digestive tract into the bloodstream and then into the cells to be used. 

The Limiting Nutrient Concept

More than 90 percent of the nutrients in our food are absorbed into the body, but just having one nutrient absent from the diet can limit the absorption or utilization of the others severely. 

Ergogenic Aids

This catchall term concerns the substances and training techniques that enhance athletic performance. They are dietary or non-dietary and may also include supplements and mental strategies to use. So, it really does include a lot. 


It combines the words nutrition with the word pharmaceutical. This is seen as a substance that is food or at least partly food, medical food, or some dietary supplement and gives medical or health benefits like preventing disease or treating such diseases. 

This may be a recent term, but it has been commonplace for thousands of years to treat disease. 

Research on Nutrients

Most research has historically focused on nutrient deficiencies, nutritional care for certain disorders, and clinical nutrition. 

There are many opportunities for finding new things in the realm of sports nutrition. 

Food Safety

A main factor of food safety is that the food, ingredients for the food, and dietary ingredients are found to be safe for human consumption. The next factor considered is that the transportation, processing, manufacturing, packing, and storing are done well and prevent contamination of bad things like pathogens. The last major deciding factor is in the store, restaurant, and at home, from cooking and handling. 


This is an abbreviation for generally recognized as safe. 

Special Topics


Historically, we see a major focus on FDA laws and regulations on preventing the adulteration of foods. , these are substances that are of harm to your health. 


This is simple when looking at it for what it is. , the branding on any product needs to be right. But it becomes more complicated than adulteration when you look at the laws and regulations and mix that with the many ways mistakes can happen when branding. 

Food Allergy and Intolerance

These can range from just irritating to some life-threatening allergies. These adverse reactions involve the immune system.

Some symptoms of food allergies are:

  • Hives, itching, and rashes
  • Swelling in your lips, face, tongue, or the throat
  • Wheezing, congestion, and other problems with breathing
  • Pain in the abdomen, diarrhea,  vomiting
  • Dizziness, fainting, or feelings of lightheadedness
  • Swelling of the throat or other air passages
  • Shock and a severe drop in your blood pressure
  • Raid pulse that is also irregular
  • Loss of consciousness

Some major food allergens are:

  • Milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, wheat, and soybeans


This is bovine spongiform encephalopathy. It is thought to come from a disease that causes prions. 

Genetically Engineered Foods

These will be the foods that are engineered plants, and tons of information could be said for these foods. 


This is a mixture of proteins in some grains like wheat. There are some issues with gluten, and some people’s diets are intolerant to it. 

Foodborne Pathogens

About 48 million people get sick from some pathogen in food every year. The most common is going to be coming from norovirus and the bacteria salmonella. 

ISSA SN Chapter 2: Food, ingredients, and Nutrients: An Overview 4
ISSA SN Chapter 2: Food, ingredients, and Nutrients: An Overview 5
ISSA SN Chapter 2: Food, ingredients, and Nutrients: An Overview 6
Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read

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