NASM CPT 7th Edition Chapter 9: Nutrition
NASM CPT 7th Edition Chapter 9: Nutrition 5

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Chapter Goals:

  • Be able to discuss the roles of macronutrients, micronutrients, and hydration in the achievement and maintenance of optimal health.
  • Be able to compare the scope of practice of allied health professions and certified personal trainer when giving nutrition education.
  • Know the reliability, validity, and credibility of nutrition information from various source types.
  • Be able to communicate with your clients the information in different levels of nutrition.
  • Find the strategies that empower clients to make nutritional decisions affecting body composition.

Introduction to Nutrition

Nutrition is defined as the process of acquiring nutrients through the food we eat and the food substances that are required to support the energy needs and cell processes that we do every day.

Nutrition science is the study of how living creatures obtain and then metabolize the nutrients in order to support growth and cell activities. 

Nutrition plays a role in optimizing our performance in exercise and sport and modifying body composition through either increasing lean muscle mass or losing body fat.

Scope of Practice: Personal Trainers and Registered Dietitians

The scope of practice refers to the areas, actions, and processes that the practitioners may undertake or do that are in the bounds of their license or certification.

Some nutrition credentials to know about are registered dietitians, certified nutritionists, CISSN, CNS, and a CDN or LDN.

The scope of practice for the fitness professionals lies in two separate areas: the field of physical assessments and the development of programs for exercise training based on goals and abilities of clients.

Nutrition is still an important part for trainers to be knowledgeable in, and this is because the clients will often ask for general advice in this realm.

Some things we cannot do as trainers are:

  • Writing the specific meal plans and menus for the day
  • Prescribing supplements or vitamins for the treatment of chronic diseases
  • Prescribing low cal diets or very low cal diets
  • Prescribing any form of fasting or detox, or related areas
  • Prescribing diets that take out certain food groups all together
  • Advising against the recommendations set by a healthcare professional
  • Prescribe nutrition therapy of any form for clients
  • Counseling or treating clients who have some form of eating disorder
  • Prescribing a one-size-fits-all approach for eating food

Nutrition information is required to be looked into and the credible information is going to be rooted in and supported by actual empirical science.

The things to consider for credible nutrition information are:

The source of the information

The qualifications held by the person giving the information

If the information is supported by other peer-reviewed research

Has the information been reviewed by other professionals

The macronutrients we will focus on are the fats, carbs, and proteins. Alcohol will also be discussed.

Protein has an energy yield of 4 calories for every gram.

Carbs have an energy yield of 4 calories for every gram.

Lipid has an energy yield of 9 calories for every gram.

Alcohol has an energy yield of 7 calories for every gram.


Protein serves many important functions in the body, the most important one being synthesis and repair of cells, tissues, and structures. Some other functions are synthesis of hormones, enzymes, antibodies, and peptides, as well as transportation for the many compounds throughout the body like lipids and minerals. 

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Structure of Protein

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. These will contain hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen.

We have 20 amino acids that we take in through the diet to use, and 9 of these are essential, so we must make sure to get them because of their inability to be manufactured in the body.

The other 11 amino acids can be made in the body, so they are considered nonessential.

Dietary Protein

Proteins are considered complete when they have the optimal number of essential amino acids and all of those essential amino acids within. 

Proteins are considered to be incomplete when they lack one or more of those essential amino acids. 

When someone is eating an omnivorous diet, they will usually get all of the essential amino acids in their diet, as the animal proteins are complete protein sources.

It is still possible to get all of the protein needed through combining the various plant sources of protein, if possible. This is known as mutual supplementation.

Protein quality refers to the amino acid profile and the content of protein sources and their digestibility in the body. Animal-based protein sources are considered to be higher in their quality since they have all the essential amino acids, and they are easily absorbed. 

Protein efficiency ratio is a value assigned to a protein that is based on the amount of weight gain of a subject divided by the amount ingested of that particular protein during a test period.

Biological Value is a measure of the digestion and absorption of the amino acids provided by a protein source. BV reflects the amount of the absorbed protein that is used in the synthesis of new proteins in the body.

The Protein digestibility-corrected amino acid score Compares the amino acid composition of a food against a standard amino acid profile, with a score of 100 being the highest value possible. It also assesses the food’s digestibility to provide an overall value for the protein’s quality.

Net protein utilization compares the ratio of amino acids that are turned into proteins to the ratio of amino acids provided via dietary intake.

Protein Digestion, Absorption, and Utilization

Proteins must be broken down to smaller molecules like single amino acids, dipeptides, and tripeptides in order to be utilized in the body.

The protein begins in the mouth by being denatured through mastication, and little happens to the protein via saliva.

Next the stomach is the main part where breakdown happens. This is through the use of hydrochloric acid which breaks it down to peptide chains.

The small intestine has protease enzymes that continue the breakdown of peptide chains and then it is absorbed into the body partially. 

Last we have absorption of the remaining pats via the portal vein and the processing through the liver and to the bloodstream to then be used.

When protein is used for energy, it is again a last resort for the body. The process to do this is known as gluconeogenesis.

Protein Dietary Needs

The needs of protein for people depends on their size, age, caloric needs, current body composition, health status, and injury status.

The basic RDA for a person is going to be 0.8 grams for every kg of body weight. This would maintain the nitrogen balance in the body.

For strength and resistance athletes, we see the need rising to 1.6 – 1.7 grams per kilogram of bodyweight.

For endurance athletes we see the need of protein being 1.2 – 1.4 grams for every kg of body weight.

For most other people wanting to build and maintain muscle mass, the needs are usually 1.4 – 2 grams per every kg of body weight. 


Carbs are a term for energy yielding compounds that have carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. These are the main source of fuel for the body during activity.

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These come in the form of simple sugars, complex sugars, glycogen, and fiber.

The simple sugars are glucose, fructose, and galactose.

The disaccharides are sucrose, maltose, and lactose.

The polysaccharides are starch, glycogen, and fiber.

Fiber is important to understand as it is not a source of energy, but it is still a carb. It comes in different forms and helps with things like digestion.

Soluble fiber is a type of dietary fiber that dissolves in water to form a gel; associated with heart health benefits and glucose control.

Insoluble fiber is a type of dietary fiber that does not dissolve in water; associated with promoting bowel regularity.

Carbohydrate Digestion, Absorption, and Utilization

In order to be used as energy, the carbs need to be broken down to smaller units just like the protein, and then they will be absorbed into the body.

When we take in excess carbs, the body is going to store these as adipose tissues in order to be used at a later time. 

Glucose and Blood Sugar

Glucose is immediately used to cause a rise in the blood sugar levels as soon as carbs are taken in. this is true for the simpler sugars. For the more complex ones, this might take a bit longer. 

The glycemic index is a rating system for how quickly a carbohydrate is going to have a raise in the person’s glucose levels when taken in on its own. 

Low GI foods are those with a score of 55. 

A score of 56 – 69 would make it a medium GI food.

And a score of 70 or higher is a high GI food.

Dietary Carbohydrate Needs

The needs for carbs will depend on the size of the person, their energy needs, and the level of activity they get. 

For someone getting light exercise we see a need of 3 – 5 grams per kg of bodyweight

For someone that does moderately intense exercise for 1 – 2 hours per day on 5 – 6 days a week, we see a need for 5 – 7 grams per kg of bodyweight

For someone who gets somewhat high intensity endurance exercise for 1 – 3 hours per day, 5 – 6 days each week, we see a need for 6 – 10 grams per kg of bodyweight

For moderate to high intensity work for more than 3 hours each day and 2 sessions per day on 5 – 6 days per week, we see a need for 8 – 12 grams per kg of body weight per day.


Lipids are also known as fats, and they are a concentrated source of energy for active people. 

Structure of Lipids

All lipid categories are slightly different in their structure and function for the body. Triglycerides are fats with a glycerol backbone and three fatty acid chains.

Phospholipids are fatty acids with a glycerol backbone and two fatty acid chains and a phosphate molecule.

Sterols have a ringlike structure of carbon and hydrogen atoms.

It is important to go through the charts in the online textbook to see the charts they have made on the different forms of fats.

Lipid Digestion, Absorption, and Utilization

Most of the digestion and absorption of these fats happens in the small intestine with the use of the pancreatic enzymes to break the long chained fats into smaller molecules for better absorption.

Lingual lipase is another thing that starts the breakdown of these chains, and this is found in the saliva when the food enters the mouth. 

Lipid Dietary Needs

The AMDR for fats is at 20 – 35% of total daily calories for many healthy adults.

The problem with fats in the diet comes from saturated fats. These should be limited.

Certain fats like omega 3 are going to be absolutely essential in the diet for their functions.

Micronutrients and Hydration

The micronutrients include vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients.


These can be put in two forms. Fat soluble vitamins require the presence of fat in order to be absorbed and stored in the body. The water-soluble vitamins leave the body much quicker.

The fat-soluble vitamins are the A, D, E, and K vitamins. 


These are compounds that are found in either plant or animals. We have both trace and major minerals which are classified based on being needed in tiny amounts or somewhat small amounts. All minerals are needed in much smaller amounts than that of the vitamins.

It is important to go through and know a bit about each of the very valuable minerals and vitamins throughout this chapter. 

Hydration Strategies

Water is needed for life, so it is an essential nutrient.

Some of the important functions of water in the body are:

  • Regulating the temperature of the body
  • Transporting and distributing the water-soluble nutrients
  • Maintaining the blood volume
  • Lubricating the joints, membranes, and the synovial tissues
  • Absorbing shock for the body
  • Removing waste products and toxins from the body

The recommended intake of fluid for men and women is 11.5 cups per day for women, and 15.5 for men.

We can see our hydration status most easily by looking at the color of our urine.

Dehydrated colors are darker yellow to even a brown color.

We need to know proper ways to hydrate based on the events we are training for. To help with this we can check our sweat lost during similar events and then aim to always replace the amount of fluid lost during exercise.

Nutrition Strategies

All clients are different in their genetic makeup and their lifestyle which will play a role in many things like the overall body composition, basal metabolic rate, height, weight, and the ability to either lose or gain weight. 

Factors Influencing Weight Management

  • Law of thermodynamics
  • Poor sleep
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Medications
  • Metabolism
  • Adaptive thermogenesis

Food Labels

The food labels work to contain the information on ingredients and nutrition content of the food in the package. Labels help to make more informed decisions. 

US food labels 

Some of the most notable things on nutrition facts panels are:

  • Serving in the container
  • Amount of the total macronutrients and relevant subgroups of them
  • Sodium in the food
  • Serving sizes
  • Cholesterol in the food
  • Total sugars and added sugars as a subgroup for the carbs
  • The amount and percent daily value for the main vitamins and minerals that need watching based on current research and trends in foods.

Percent daily value is a useful tool that the clients need to use for comparing different products and how much of certain nutrients are contained within food.

UK Food Labels

These labels differ a bit from the US labels.

In the US the food is put based on the specified serving sizes, whereas in Europe they often use it based on a certain weight of the food like 100 grams or mL.

The European side of the labeling uses percent reference intakes.

There is a useful new way to find the ideal things in food through color coding of labels. This shows what is vital for the consumer to know about the products like being high in some good nutrient or low in some good nutrient.

NASM CPT 7th Edition Chapter 9: Nutrition 6
NASM CPT 7th Edition Chapter 9: Nutrition 7
NASM CPT 7th Edition Chapter 9: Nutrition 8

Tyler Read

Tyler Read, BSc, CPT. Tyler holds a B.S. in Kinesiology from Sonoma State University and is a certified personal trainer (CPT) with NASM (National Academy of sports medicine), and has over 15 years of experience working as a personal trainer. He is a published author of running start, and a frequent contributing author on Healthline and Eat this, not that.

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