Nutrition for performance vs nutrition for health

The last question in my student's final exam this past semester was 'what are the differences between nutrition for sport & performance and nutrition for health & wellness?' The answer is sort of in the question - One is for performance and the other is for health. Easy, right? Maybe, on the surface. But if you think about it, it gets more complex than that, especially because while the differences are significant, there are also quite a few similarities... I asked my students to give me some examples as part of the question, and that is where things got interesting, in a good way! (for the most part)

This is something I think about often, because while I am not an athlete myself anymore - I work with them daily, on top of living with one. My personal focus is mostly on health, because I have CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) and I am not training at anywhere near the same level I used to.

When I work with athletes, especially at the elite/pro level, the focus is a bit different. We focus on making sure they fuel their training and racing properly, through various methods. But of course, I want to keep them healthy too. Healthy athletes = consistent (effective) training = results. But we often incorporate strategies that I will not necessarily recommend for the average recreational exerciser / age group athlete / weekend warrior. On the other hand, the age group athlete will need to incorporate strategies that may not be advised for a recreational exerciser... I work with athletes of all ability level and it is all a balancing act, for sure!

So, I'm curious to hear/read some of your comments. What are some examples of the differences between nutrition for sport & performance and nutrition for health & wellness? Perhaps someone would like to share their personal experience as well? On top of satisfying my curiosity, your comments will also help me organize the chapters of my sports nutrition cookbook!

europeLeif