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Exploring the application of nutritional mindfulness to exercise performance

School of Psychology and Sport Science

About the Project

Research Group: Cambridge Centre for Sport and Exercise Sciences -

Proposed supervisory team: Dr Justin Roberts () Dr Lee Smith ()

Theme: Health, Nutrition and Physical Activity, Nutrition and Mindful Eating

Summary of the research project

Nutritional coaching, and methods to improve the application of nutritional strategies is of current interest to sport and exercise scientists, coaches and practitioners alike. In many cases, nutritional interventions are not reinforced and as such athletes (and exercising individuals) often fail in the consistent application of such interventions. This can lead to poor dietary intake or practices over time, with athlete’s regularly viewing nutrition as important, but not really focusing on its application in comparison to both training and recovery (Roberts, 2015 personal observations).

Levels of nutritional knowledge have been reported to be poor in many athletic groups (Furber, Roberts and Roberts, 2016), with education and advice often coming from non-scientific sources. In many cases, this gives rise to an unconscious approach to eating patterns, with athletes eating out of necessity, on the go, rushed or making poor food choices. Subclinical symptoms such as fatigue, poor recovery, bloating, mental confusion, poor decision making, inflammatory states and gastrointestinal distress may all stem from simple ‘decisions’ linked to food intake.

Strategies to improve mindful approaches to eating behaviours may provide practical means to advance athletic training and performance through improved nutrition and recovery mechanisms. This research aims to explore current practices in a variety of athletic cohorts, combined with practical and psychological strategies to enhance nutritional intake leading to measurable physiological improvements.

Resources required: the programme would require access to exercise physiology laboratory space for standard exercise testing/training, as well as access to the HTA laboratory for storage of potential plasma samples. Additionally, access to the main analytical laboratories would be required for assessment of pertinent assays. All cardio-metabolic testing equipment is currently available in the Sport and Exercise Sciences laboratories. Purchase of, and training in, assay use would be required, if applicable.

Where you’ll study

Cambridge (


This project is self-funded.

Details of studentships for which funding is available are selected by a competitive process and are advertised on our jobs website ( as they become available.

Next steps

If you wish to be considered for this project, you will need to apply for our Sport and Exercise Sciences MPhil, PhD ( In the section of the application form entitled ’Outline research proposal’, please quote the above title and include a research proposal.

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