NASM PES Chapter 14: Performance Nutrition 5

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Chapter Goals:

  • Be able to explain the limitations we have for nutritional advice when we involve the scope of practice. 
  • Find the macronutrients and their functions in relation to performing.
  • Find the micronutrients and the roles they have in function and enhancing performance. 
  • Be able to discuss the post and pre exercise strategies for nutrition. 
  • Find the signs and methods we use to stop us from dehydrating.


Performance nutrition is a combo of strategies for enhancing physical and athletic performance with the use of specific choices in food and nutrients, along with the timing and the quantities we choose. 

We now have many strategies for these nutrient choices that improve strength, power, and endurance. 

One of the other main benefits of getting the right nutrition for your improvements is also getting the right nutrition for injury prevention, of which fatigue may be a large part. 

Overview of the Field

Sports performance professionals need to be familiar with the many concepts of performance nutrition. 

Integrating the strategies of nutrition with the training designs will be able to help the clients to reach their desired outcomes. 

The requirements of the registered dietitian for education and professional will be the attainment of a bachelor’s degree, a supervised program of practice, a national exam, and the use of continuing education credits.

Sports performance professionals must have a general knowledge of the basics of nutrition and weight management to educate clients and provide general guidance in the area.

Sports performance professionals are likely to be the first to be asked about nutrition advice; it is important to be confident and provide the right level of advice without stepping over boundaries. 

The nutritional topics that are allowed for these sports performance professionals will be:

  • Food prep methods
  • Eating healthy snacks
  • The stats regarding the relationship there is between chronic disease and the excesses or deficiencies of specific nutrients
  • Vitamins and minerals act as essential nutrients.
  • Food guidance systems like the USDA MyPlate tool
  • The basic information regarding carbs, proteins, and fats
  • Nutrients that are held within the foods and supplements. 
  • Importance of the status of water and hydration levels

Training Diet Components



These are the main fuel that we burn during exercise and it depends a little on the intensity and the actual duration of the activity we are doing.

As the intensity increases, so does carbs’ use as energy. 

Blood glucose levels will be controlled by the carbs we eat and the stores we have in the body. 

These carbs will act as a limiting factor for a lot of activities. 

One of the things we can do is increase the glycogen content and the stores of carbs for the body to ensure that we have enough for the event or training we are doing. 

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The recommendations for carbs for athletes can go from 6 – 10 grams per kg daily, and the typical American diet will be around only 4 – 5 grams per kg. 

We can categorize the carbs we take in based on the glycemic index. This is the rating of the food’s effect on blood glucose based on the rating of white bread. The higher the GI, the greater the effect to be had on the body. 

Glycogen supercompensation or glycogen loading is the technique some athletes use for increasing the levels of carbs in the body and, more specifically, the access the body has to glycogen. 

Fiber is a form of carb that we do not actually digest, and it doesn’t give us a great amount of fuel either, but it benefits us in the health of our gut and overall body.


Protein is made up of amino acids and it is needed for things like supporting the growth and maintenance of the tissues in the body, synthesizing the enzymes, hormones, and other peptides that we need, building out antibodies to protect from disease, maintaining fluid and electrolyte balances, repairing the damage to muscle tissues from exercise, and providing energy and glucose for the body. 

Protein needs will receive much interest and attention from athletes since it is considered the main part of athletics. 

Protein contributes to our energy stores at rest and when we are exercising, but it is going to be less than 5% for most people since we actually preserve it and use other energy sources until we absolutely need to use protein. 

Dietary intakes of protein can vary quite a bit based on the type of athlete you are dealing with. 

For the standard strength and power athletes, we see the consumption of 1.6 – 1.7 grams per kg of body weight. 

We will see an intake of 1.2 – 1.4 grams per kg of body weight for endurance athletes.

And for the general population, we only really have a need of around 0.8 grams per kg of body weight. 

We find dietary protein in many types of foods like meat, poultry, fish, beans, nuts, butter, milk, and other dairy products. 

Whey protein is popular in protein formulas as it is considered to be a fast protein due to the rise of plasma amino acids after consuming that it causes. 

Casein protein is another popular form of protein we find in protein products and we consider it slower due to the moderate increase in plasma amino acids it causes. 

We have nine essential amino acids that we need to take in, as the body is actually unable to make this on its own with other amino acids. 

Complete proteins are the ones that have all of these essential amino acids in them, and dairy and animal protein is considered to be among those. 


Fats have many important functions in the body the function and elasticity in the cell membranes, the structure and function of our nervous system, the production of our hormones, the maintenance of body temperature, the absorption of some specific fat soluble vitamins and carotenoids, and lastly, the protection of our viral organs. 

The oxidation of fats is usually activated after around 15 – 20 minutes of endurance exercise. 

Fatty acids are simple and single chain lipids that regulate fat production, inflammation, insulin action, and function neurologically. 

We do not have an RDA for fats, so we find this based on how we control our carbs and proteins. This usually is around 20 – 35% of the daily energy intake. 


Vitamins and Minerals

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These micronutrients will play very important roles in the metabolism of energy molecules, the health of bones, the production of hormones, the function of the immune system, and protection from any damage from oxidation. 

During strenuous activity, the rate of energy turnover in skeletal muscles may be increased by 20 – 100 times the rate at rest. 

The higher the energy intake of physically active people, the more important it is to ensure we ingest these essential dietary components. 

Terms Relating to Daily Recommended Nutrient Intakes

Dietary reference intakes are a family of four nutrient reference values RDA, AI, EAR, and TUL. The main goals of these DRIs are to prevent any deficiencies from occurring and reduce the risks for chronic diseases like osteoporosis, cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

RDA is the recommended daily allowance, and this is the average daily intake of dietary nutrients that will adequately meet the nutrient requirements of all healthy people in a particular life stage and gender group. 

AI is going to be the adequate intake, and this is used when we cannot establish the RDA for an item, and it is the recommended value to intake based upon the observed or experimentally found intake estimates of a group of healthy people. 

EAR is the estimated average requirement, and we use it to assess dietary adequacy, which is the basis for the RDA. This will meet about half of the needs of a group of healthy people. 

The TUL is the last one, and this is the tolerable upper level. We use this as the highest level of daily intake that someone can use before they start to pose some form of adverse health effects for most people in a healthy population. 


Antioxidants will include vitamins C and E, beta carotene, and selenium. These will play a major role in balancing the oxidative stress made by any free radicals. 

Exercise may increase oxygen consumption by 10 – 15 times more than resting values.

The more well trained athletes can compensate by making a more powerful endogenous antioxidant system than someone that is sedentary. 

Too much of a good thing can be quite real for the antioxidants. Very high doses of these can be quite toxic to people.

When trying to reduce the levels of free radicals you are getting, and it is important to reduce the foods and dietary items that we have promoted these oxidative stresses first.

Performance Nutrition Concepts

Daily energy balance

The actual nutrition concepts for performance will not mean much if the body has no energy balance. 

Someone that is balanced in their energy intake will also match their energy expenditure with that of which they are taking in. Thus, they are not gaining or losing weight. 

Exercise will increase the energy use rate of losing water through the higher metabolism and production of heat.

Failure to meet these balances will likely cause performance problems and overall weight loss, lean body mass, or even both. 

Inter-day energy balance

Like energy balance, the concept of balance between days may also be important. 

The composition and performance of the body can be quite affected by the frequency of snacks and meals. 

Fueling before and after exercise

Pre event snacks could help with these things

  • Getting sufficient fluids for maintaining your hydration
  • Low fat levels and fiber will encourage emptying and minimization of the distress gastrointestinally
  • High carb levels will optimize the stores of glycogen
  • Moderate levels of protein are important
  • Foods should be familiar to the individual

After event meals will be useful for giving the body the materials needed to stop the loss of protein and restoring the body to a state it had previously before starting the activity. 

Muscles Fuel Recovery

Recovery and regeneration of muscles and energy will be very important for athletes to do regularly. 

The key to this is the maximization of the higher glycemic index carbs, as these break down quickly during digestion, and thus they will release into the blood faster. These are good when considering post workout meals. 

Muscle Soreness

Muscle soreness is a noticeable side effect of working out and it is caused mostly by the buildup of acid in the muscles due to the generation of hydrogen ions through oxidative metabolism. 

Muscle Building Strategies

Muscle tissue is sensitive to the muscular activity itself and the fluctuations in the macronutrients and hormones. 

Positive balances are achieved through the use of:

  • Taking in a mix of protein and carbs, and amino acids before and after the strength workouts
  • Replenishing the glycogen stores to the proper level right after our workouts
  • Meeting our daily needs for carbs
  • Avoiding diets too high in protein

Performance Effects of Hydration

Hydration has a major influence on the body, and it is often overlooked by people in athletic training.

We should always be taking in fluids to meet the needs and balance of the body. 

If we do not stay in the right range, we may have altered performance regarding strength, power, and high intensity endurance. 

We should avoid dehydrating the body by 2% of the body mass, as this would decrease our performance, especially when in warmer and hotter environments. 

Fluid Recommendations

Well execute hydration plans will allow the person to show up to practice and events already hydrated to the proper level, keep pace with the sweat losses and adequately recover for the body. 

The DRI for water will be 130 ounces for males and 95 ounces for females.

Hydration Assessment

People can actually monitor their own levels of hydration in a few ways.

We can monitor changes in the body mass, the color of the urine, and your thirst level. 

Weight and Body Composition

Goals and Standards

Weight and body comp will be important topics to the athletes, coaches, and healthcare professionals working with the athletes.

Many factors affect performance, and competitive body weight and relative body fat are best found in a healthy and peak performance period. 

Assessment Methods

We have many things that are affected by the levels of muscle mass in the athlete, and the other things will be affected by the body’s composition. 

This makes these things important to track for athletic purposes. 

BMI is a useful tool for general people, and we find this by taking the mass in kg and dividing it by the height in square meters.

Skinfold thickness is a way for us to find body fat levels in athletes. 

Other techniques are things like bioelectrical assessments that use electricity to see the body fat levels, and then also more expensive ways like underwater weighing or the use of x-rays. 

NASM PES Chapter 14: Performance Nutrition 6
NASM PES Chapter 14: Performance Nutrition 7
NASM PES Chapter 14: Performance Nutrition 8

Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read

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