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Meet Nancy Clark of Nancy Clark Sports Nutrition Services in Newton Highlands

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nancy Clark, MS RD CSSD.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
It’s hard to believe that in 1980, I was just starting my career as a sports dietitian. Here I am, 37 years later, with a career that has taken me in directions beyond my wildest dreams. I am author of the best-selling Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook (as well as 12 other books). I am a sought-after speaker at both professional conferences and local running clubs. I’ve been invited to speak in China, Australia, Greece, and Russia. I’ve presented more than 200 workshops around the nation, helping other dietitians learn how to become sports dietitians. I’ve worked with many college teams in the Boston area, as well as the Bruins, Celtics, and Red Sox. As for my biggest source of pride, my husband and I have raised two children who eat wisely and well, and are good citizens.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Nothing is simple; every entrepreneur faces obstacles. For me, the obstacles were (and still are) the shame, embarrassment, and ego that hinder athletes’ willingness to make an appointment with me (and any registered dietitian, for that matter) for food help. After all, my clients all know what they should eat; they report just don’t do it and believe “Why should I consult with someone who will tell me what I already know?”

The answer is, you don’t know what you don’t know. My clients don’t know why they don’t eat the way they believe they should eat — and that’s where I can help them find peace with food, as well as reach their weight and performance goals.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Nancy Clark Sports Nutrition Services story. Tell us more about the business.
I am proud that I have been able to put sports nutrition “on the global map.” When I first started in 1980, athletes joked about food; they were on the “see food” diet. They saw food and they ate it. Today, they understand that nutrition is either their missing link or their winning edge. To be able to offer the best advice to my clients, I work hard to stay on top of the latest sports nutrition/exercise science research; this sets me apart from many other “sports nutritionists” who may know the latest fads but are short on science.

I am also proud of my Sports Nutrition Guidebook (See This best-seller is now in its 5th edition and has sold over 600,000 copies primarily by popular demand. It has sections on how to manage the American food supply, how to fuel up and refuel, how to lose weight while maintaining energy to exercise, and also a section with quick and easy recipes for yummy sports foods that the whole family will enjoy.

As you may or may not know, anyone can call himself or herself a sports nutritionist (“I eat, I exercise, I know all there is to know about fueling for sports”). But not many people are Board Certified Specialists in Sports Dietetics (CSSD).  I have an extensive educational background in nutrition and dietetics from Simmons College (undergraduate degree in nutrition) and Mass. General Hospital (internship in Dietetics). I passed an exam to become a Registered Dietitian (RD), and then after having worked a few years, I went to graduate school at Boston University where I earned my master’s degree in nutrition with a focus on exercise physiology. After several years of experience, I passed yet another exam to become a Board Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.

All of this means, I bring science-based knowledge to my clients. But honestly, I bring caring, curiosity, and a listening ear to both fitness exercisers and competitive athletes alike. Some want to know how to fuel for a marathon or an Ironman triathlon. Others want to find peace with food and their bodies, so they can get out of “Food Jail” and stop spending too much time thinking about food, exercising to burn calories, and monitoring every morsel they eat, being fear of getting fat. Some of my clients have a complicated relationship with food, a desire to lose weight, and/or a need to figure out how to have more energy and perform better. Others want help figuring out what’s best to eat for health and performance.

Where do you see your industry going over the next 5-10 years? Any big shifts, changes, trends, etc.?
Sports nutrition is a growing industry. Have you noticed all the protein bars, recovery drinks, muscle builders, energizers and sports supplements that are flooding the marketplace? These commercial products add to the sports nutrition confusion.

Most professional sports teams have now hired a sports RD to teach their athletes how to fuel optimally for performance and health. So have college and high school students, as well as to individual runners, triathletes and dancers. (Yes, dancers are athletes). The benefits of having a sports RD on a team include having athletes who are well-fueled, less fatigued, happier, and able to perform better. No wonder my business is growing!

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