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Health & Social Care

Sports Nutrition Diploma

This Quality Assured Level 3 Diploma is suitable for all those who wish to achieve an understanding of the principles of good nutrition and would like to be able to relate this to sport.
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Level 3 / Quality Licence Scheme / ODL96

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Course summary


Expert Tutoring

12 months tutor support


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Course, assignments & tutor


Endorsed by the

Quality Licence Scheme


NUS Card Eligibility

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Course introduction

It will be of interest to you if, you exercise to keep fit, are interested in training others, whether as coaches or as parents/guardians of young athletes, participate regularly in sporting activities, from marathons to tennis tournaments, or are training to reach peak levels in their chosen activity.

The course will cover a broad variety of topic areas including types of performance enhancers and meal planning to coaching young athletes. Materials can be studied online or students have the option to have the printed materials delivered for an additional charge of £65.

Course Content:

Module 1 - Dietary Nutrients

This module introduces the basics of good nutrition. It helps us understand how to introduce good nutrition into our daily lives and teaches us concepts such as "Energy Balance", "Body Mass Index" and "The Harris Benedict Equation".

The important dietary nutrients of carbohydrate, protein and fats and oils are explained in more detail, so that we can understand the function of these nutrients in our body and how this relates to our sporting performance.

As fat is the nutrient needed least by our body, we also look at ways of achieving a healthy intake of fat in this module, as well as variety in our diet.

Module 2 - Performance Enhancers

Is good nutrition enough for us to perform at our best? Should we try to enhance our performance by taking supplements? Are products, which claim to give us the edge over our competitors worth the money? These are some of the key questions we look at throughout this module.

As well as the dietary nutrients (macronutrients) studied in the first module, in this module, we explore the role of vitamins and minerals, highlighting the key ones for our purpose of enhancing health and performance.

Antioxidants get a lot of press in health publications nowadays. We discover what antioxidants actually are, where we can find them and what the benefits of them in our diets are.

There is a vast market of products including, sports foods, gels, bars, meal replacement products, all claiming to enhance our sporting performance. Do they do as they say? This is something we discuss further in this module. There are also supplements, which are illegal in the sporting arena. We look at what these are, what they claim to do and whether these claims are justified.

Module 3 - Fluid Management

Ensuring we consume enough fluid is vital to our health and to our performance as athletes. This module looks at all the issues surrounding fluid intake, from how much we need to drink to remain well hydrated, to the problems associated with dehydration and heat stress.

There are numerous varieties of sports drinks available to buy in the supermarket and at specialist retailers over the Internet. We look at the difference between hypotonic, isotonic and hypertonic drinks, the role of each of them, and whether they are more beneficial to athletes than drinking plain water. Further sources of fluid also include other non-alcoholic drinks like diet, carbonated and Caffeinated and we consider the value of consuming these types of drinks.

Alcohol can play a key role in the life of an athlete, particularly those involved in team sports, where celebrations after a win might be common practice. In this module, we identify some of the specific problems for athletes, related to the consumption of alcohol.

Module 4 - Weight Management

Weight management is not solely the concern of athletes, although many athletes do have to "make weight" for their particular sport. If we look specifically at jockeys, then we can understand why weight management may be an issue. You will not find many athletes who are, what we may consider as being "overweight". However, to perform at their best, a lot of athletes like to shed a few pounds of body fat.

It is, nevertheless, not as easy as eating less and training more, as a key concern is to lose the fat and not the muscle. This module looks at safe, healthy ways of losing body fat, while still having the energy and strength to perform well.

A weight-loss eating plan is included, as well as tips for losing weight successfully, by, for example, increasing your metabolic rate.

Module 5 - Managing Body Composition

This module follows on from the previous one, in that it looks at ways of managing your body composition once you reach the weight you want. You will gain an understanding of the link between body fat and performance and how to measure your own body fat distribution.

You may need to gain weight, but must ensure that it is muscle you gain and not extra body fat, which will hinder your performance. In this module, you will find out how to gain weight successfully, by following a weight-gain eating plan and weight-gain tips. Once you have the extra muscle you need, you will also be able to make sure that, after exercise, you can repair and regenerate muscle.

Module 6 - Women Athletes

This Diploma in Sports Nutrition is designed to cover all elements of nutrition and how everyone can use nutrition to impact on their sporting lives. There are, however, specific issues, which relate to women and, in the next module, children and young athletes. This module deals specifically with some of the issues that might impact on a woman athlete.

We look more closely at eating disorders and disordered eating and identify the difference. We study terms like "Amenorrhoea" and "Osteoporosis", finding out their meanings and how they relate to a women's sporting life.

One of the main risks for women is not consuming enough iron to support their training and/or competition. It is important to consume sufficient iron and included in this module are suggestions of how to do this and what to include in your diet.

Also specific to women are the issues of pregnancy, premenstrual tension and the menopause. We consider all these in general terms and in relation to athletic performance.

Module 7 - Young Athletes

This module will be of particular importance to the parents and coaches of young athletes, as it deals with all the issues that may affect a young athletes health and performance.

Some of the questions we pose are, "Why are young athletes more susceptible to dehydration than adult athletes?" And " How can we encourage young athletes to consume enough fluid?"

We learn, not only about their fluid needs, but also about their energy, protein and carbohydrate needs and how these differ to the needs of adult athletes. Meal timing is also an important issue for young athletes, as quite often, when "on the go" all the time, eating is not a priority for young athletes. It is up to those that are responsible for their training to ensure that young athletes consume sufficient fluid and food.

Module 8 - Before, During and After Exercise

This module brings together a lot of the information we have studied so far in this Diploma and relates it specifically to training for a specific event. It looks in detail at your nutritional needs before, during and after exercise, highlighting the best food and drink choices at specific times of the day. As well as this, details about what and when to eat and drink at competition time are included.

Some long distance events rely on us having enough energy to complete them and it may be that we need to consume more carbohydrate than we otherwise would. This is when "carbohydrate loading" can be considered. We look at what "carbohydrate loading" is and how it might benefit certain athletic performance.

Equally as important as performing at our best, is recovery and avoiding injury, so that we may continue to perform at our best and are not forced to "sit out" of the event next time, due to injury. Ways of avoiding injury are also included in this module.

Module 9 - Meal Planning

This is a very practical module, in that it asks you to design a personal nutrition programme, taking into account all the personal details of the athlete and the sport they are striving to achieve in. It may be for yourself or for someone you are coaching.

Included in your plan will be lots of suggestions and ideas for meals, as essentially it is what your athlete eats and drinks at certain times of the day that will be the key to their success.

Also included in this module are ideas for meals for vegetarian athletes. If you yourself are vegetarian or you are training someone who is vegetarian, then this section of the module will support you in preparing healthy meals for them, taking into consideration that certain nutrients are to be found more abundantly in animal products. However, there are alternatives for vegetarians and these are included here.

Your nutrition plan will also be concerned with how to boost immune function by consuming certain foods and drinks so that, at certain times of the year, you do not become prone to the coughs and colds that inevitably go round.

Module 10 - Sports Nutrition for different Sports

In the final module of this course, you will learn about 4 differing sports and how nutritional needs may alter both within the sport and between the different sports.

One of the most popular sports is running and so we look at 3 types of event, long distance, middle distance and sprinting and how nutritional requirements vary between the 3 events.

The other sports we consider are swimming, cycling and team sports like football, rugby and hockey. Not only do you learn about the characteristics of these sports, but you will also find sample menus for the different athletes, and case studies, which may help you, identify any individual problems you or the athlete you are coaching may have. We also take into account how tournaments differ from individual sporting events and how you can meet the nutritional requirements of these prolonged events.

Required knowledge

No previous knowledge or experience is essential to study this course.


Final online multiple choice examination.


At the end of this course successful learners will receive a Certificate of Achievement from Quality Licence Scheme and a Learner Unit Summary (which lists the components the learner has completed as part of the course). 

The course has been endorsed under the Quality Licence Scheme. This means that the provider has undergone an external quality check to ensure that the organisation and the courses it offers, meet defined quality criteria. The completion of this course alone does not lead to a regulated qualification* but may be used as evidence of knowledge and skills gained. The Learner Unit Summary may be used as evidence towards Recognition of Prior Learning if you wish to progress your studies in this subject. To this end the learning outcomes of the course have been benchmarked at QLS Level 3 against level descriptors published by Ofqual, to indicate the depth of study and level of demand/complexity involved in successful completion by the learner. 

The Quality Licence Scheme is part of the Skills and Education Group, a charitable organisation that unites education and skills-orientated organisations that share similar values and objectives. With more than 100 years of collective experience, the Skills and Education Group’s strategic partnerships create opportunities to inform, influence and represent the wider education and skills sector. 

The Skills and Education Group’s knowledge and experience of working within the awarding sector enables them to work with training providers, through the Quality Licence Scheme, to help them develop high-quality courses and/or training programmes for the non-regulated market. 

*Regulated qualification refers to those qualifications that are regulated by Ofqual / CCEA / Qualification Wales 

Course modules

Unit 1: Dietary Nutrients
Unit 2: Performance Enhancers
Unit 3: Fluid Management
Unit 4: Weight Management
Unit 5: Managing Body Composition
Unit 6: Women Athletes
Unit 7: Young Athletes
Unit 8: Before, During and After Exercise
Unit 9: Meal Planning
Unit 10: Sports Nutrition for different Sports

Learner support

12 Months Tutor Support. Tutors are available to answer student questions relating to course materials and to comment on the assignments that are sent in to state how well students have understood the unit content.


What is distance learning?

Distance learning is the most flexible and convenient approach to studying. There is no need for you to attend college and, therefore, you can study anytime, any place, anywhere that fits in with your lifestyle. Distance learning programmes are ideal for people who may have a full-time job, or other commitments, that won’t allow them time off to study.

What do I need to do to get started on a course?

You'll need to be able to commit the required time to your studies. We recommend that you choose a course you think will interest you, and help you to achieve your ambitions. If you would like some advice, or further information, please call our helpline free on 0333 3445 690.

To purchase a course, simply click on the ‘Buy now’ button against your chosen course and follow the on screen instructions. Alternatively if you would prefer to purchase the course over the phone, call 0333 3445 690 and speak to one of our expert course advisors.

How does the distance learning/home study method work?

The course operates through a study pack and access to your own personal tutor. Once you have chosen your course we will send you your study pack, which you will be required to work through before completing the course.

Depending on the course you have chosen, you will either be required to complete assignments and submit these for marking as the course progresses and/or be required to sit an end exam. The end exam could be in the form of multiple choice questions, or be an invigilated exam at a registered test centre.

Your completed assignments will need to be sent to your tutor for marking/assessment, you will then receive written feedback and guidance. It may be possible to submit your assignments by email, however you will need to check this with your tutor. Please be aware that your assignments will be maintained by NCCHL for moderation and audit purposes.

These requirements will always be listed on the course description page, so please refer to this for details of what is required for each individual course.

How long should it take to complete a course?

Depending on the course you have chosen, and the amount of time you can commit, it could take from 6 weeks to 12 months to complete your course.

The duration of the course is largely down to you though. The beauty of home learning is that it allows you complete flexibility to fit your studies around your lifestyle and other commitments. You can dedicate as much, or as little, time as you want to your studies - no one will be chasing you for your work or asking why you haven’t submitted an assignment.

We do strongly recommend, though, that before you purchase a course you assess your ability to commit the necessary time to completing the course in a timeframe that will not leave you losing your motivation.

How quickly will I receive my course material?

We guarantee that you will receive your course materials within 5 days of purchase, but for many courses we would anticipate that you will have to wait no more than 48 hours.

The course materials are always sent to you via a tracked courier service, to ensure that you receive your study pack within our stated period.

How much will it cost?

The cost is largely dependent on the type of the course. The longer the course is the higher the cost will be, due to the size of the study pack and the nature of the qualification.

All prices are clearly stated on the course description page and will always be displayed prior to you committing to purchase a course.

Please note that there may be additional fees required should your course have an external assessment, such as A Levels, ICB qualifications etc. To clarify, please speak to a course advisor.

What support will I receive?

You will be allocated your own personal tutor who can be contacted via e-mail, telephone, fax or post for help and advice on any aspect of the course.

Many courses require that you submit work to your tutor during the period of study and your tutor will assess your work and pass comments back to you. Your tutor is available to you as much as you need them.

Please be aware that officially the tutor support provided with the course is for a period of 12 months, although if you need longer let us know and we’ll endeavour to extend that.

Will I have to sit an examination?

All of our courses are accredited, so you need to show that you have acquired the knowledge to pass the course – this may involve sitting an examination, but it depends on the course you have chosen.

Some courses require you to be continually assessed throughout the course, while others may require an end of course exam or assignment (which may be completed at home) to be submitted to your tutor.

Certain types of qualifications, A-levels and GCSEs for example, do require you to sit an invigilated exams at a registered test centre. You will need to organise and pay for the examinations yourself, however full details of what you need to do will be available from the centre who are delivering the qualification.

If in doubt, please email ‘’, NCC can then discuss or put you in touch directly with the course provider.

Can I study from outside the UK?

Yes, there are no geographical limits to where you can study.

You just need to be aware that all tutors are based in the UK and work may need to be submitted to them via post, although in most cases e-mail can be used.

Where the course requires that you sit an invigilated exam at a test centre, there are many exam centres outside of the UK. However, we would advise that you check with us before purchasing one of these courses if you want to study from abroad.

Will I receive a qualification when I complete the course?

All of our courses are accredited and you will receive a certificate upon successful completion of the course.

For more information about this please see the section of the website that details how awarding bodies work and what the different types of qualifications are.

Can I take more than one course at a time?

Yes, you can take as many courses as your time allows. But we would recommend that you clearly evaluate how much time you can commit to your courses of study.

The good news is though that if your circumstances change you can always take a break and come back to your studies.

Additionally, discounts are available if you buy more than one course at the same time.

How long will it take for my work to be marked by my tutor?

Your work will be marked and feedback returned to you within 12 working days after submission. This is because our tutors are required to provide detailed, considered feedback to our learners that may take a while to formulate. We find that by working this way, our learners actually complete their course in less time, as they rarely need to submit an assignment more than twice.

Whilst it is possible to submit multiple assignments at the same time, we advise that our learners submit only one at a time. We want our learners to develop as they progress through their course, and find this is best achieved when a student embarks on a new module having taken into account tutor feedback from the previous submission.

Do I need any additional books or equipment to do my course?

No, we provide everything you need to pass your course.

How do I enrol?

Once you have chosen your course, you can either purchase the course online which will enrol you, or you can call our helpline on 0333 3445 690 who will sign you up for the course and arrange to have all your learning materials sent to you.

What if I’ve chosen the wrong course?

If, after receiving the course, you decide it isn’t the right course for you, you can simply return the goods within 14 days and we will send your money back in full for the majority of courses (excluding postage and packaging) or you can choose another course that you feel would suit your needs and ambitions better.

What is the difference between the online and paper versions of courses?

Our online courses are completed through our online learning system after receiving login and access instructions. You will not receive any course materials through the post. The paper based version is posted out in a binder to your home or place of work and requires completion of a portfolio of work that is submitted to your tutor for marking.

Where can I find your Equality and Diversity Policy?

All NCC policies and procedures can be provided on request from NCC directly by emailing or calling 0333 3445 690.

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