Jan 29, 2015
Nutrition Takes the Field

abbyfunk-head.jpgBy Abigail Funk

You may have noticed a few new initials after some nutritionists’ names lately–specifically CSSD. Offered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR), the credentialing agency for the American Dietetic Association, CSSD recognizes a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.
According to the CDR , the CSSD distinction “is granted in recognition of an applicant’s documented practice experience and successful completion of an examination in the specialty area.” In this case, the specialty area is sports dietetics.

“There were already other distinctions within dietetics like renal or pediatric nutrition, but nothing related to sports nutrition,” says Amy Bragg, RD, LD, CSSD, Director of Performance Nutrition at Texas A&M University. “To have a certification for sports nutritionists alone will help our profession grow in numbers as the entities that hire us will see its importance.”

Available to Registered Dieticians (RD) who have been certified for at least two years, CSSD applicants must have at least 1,500 documented hours in sports specialty practice within the past five years. The CDR accepts the following as examples of sports specialty practice hours:

  • Assessing athletes and active individuals.
  • Educating students, coaches, parents, athletic trainers, MDs, and other healthcare professionals.
  • Counseling/consulting with athletes and active individuals.
  • Participating as a member of a multidisciplinary sports medicine team.
  • Testing is available twice per year in two- to three-week windows. As long as the nutritionist can document his or her RD status and hours of sports specialty practice on the application form, they will be invited to take the exam which consists of 150 multiple choice questions. The CSSD certification is good for five years, when nutritionists may re-test to keep the distinction.

    Bragg took the examination in the first round of testing this past summer (the next testing dates are in June). “Because I work in this segment full time, the exam was not very challenging for me,” she says. “But for part-time nutritionists, I would recommend reviewing exercise physiology and energy systems before taking the test.

    “Sports nutrition as a field is still in its infancy, but it is a booming practice area,” Bragg continues. “The CSSD certification is helping us grow and become recognized. Eventually, I think the CSSD distinction will be a prerequisite for nutritionists who want to work in an athletic setting.”

    Helpful Links
    American Dietetic Association
    Commission on Dietetic Registration
    For other Training & Conditioning articles on nutrition, search “nutrition” in the Article Search window above.

    Abigail Funk is an Assistant Editor at Training & Conditioning. She can be reached at: [email protected].

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