Interview: Dr. Daniele Fortunato talks about Caffeine, the Nutritionist-Athlete Relationship and more (Part II)

This is the second part of the interview with Dr. Daniele Fortunato if which we discuss about caffeine. You can find part I HERE.

Is caffeine for athletes a friend or a foe during a competition?  

Dr. Daniele Fortunato: Caffeine has been used in sports for long time. This is because its effects on the central nervous system are well known and in some circumstances these effects improve sports performance. Especially is the case of endurance sports where fatigue always arises and is a limiting factor.

Caffeine delays the onset of fatigue and increases the heart rate. But this is a double-edged sword: in precision sports, like dancesport, it is important to stay focused, clear and calm. In this case caffeine could be an obstacle.

And if a person is sensitive to caffeine, but needs the same effect, what can he replace it with?

Dr. Daniele Fortunato: There are many people who are particularly sensitive to caffeine because they do not catabolize it well. Therefore, in these cases it is necessary to avoid it totally.

A supplement based on high-dose pure royal jelly has been launched on the market in the latest period. Royal jelly has been used for several decades as a supplement for children. Now, for the first time has been tested on professional athletes with incredible results. The only problem with this food is its quality and its purity.

In Italy we are investing a lot in the processes of purification and conservation of royal jelly. We want to ensure an effective and highly concentrated product that is able to provide athletes a significant increase in performance.

How does a relationship start between you and an athlete who’s asking for your support during his preparation? What kind of initial tests must be done in order to establish the correct nutritional plan? How often do we need to monitor the progress?

Dr. Daniele Fortunato: It’s always necessary that at least the first visit is done in person, in order to do a good evaluation of the body composition. We need to analyze the anthropoplyometric parameters, to do a stratigraphy and evaluate the functional state of fat and muscle tissues of the various districts of the body. It’s very important to establish together a diet that is compatible with all the needs of the athlete.

The first visit must then include:

  • an accurate pathophysiological anamnesis 
  • the study of the training sessions and competitions
  • the acquisition of specialists’ reports 
  • clinical analyzes  
  • pharmacological therapies in progress

The following check visits can be done online, for example via Skype or any other way about every 2 weeks. Then, when possible, they are performed in person.

So you could even have a distance relationship with an athlete, without the need to check on him every week?

Dr. Daniele Fortunato: Exactly. Professional athletes hardly remain in the same place for many days, so you have to adapt to their lifestyle, as you do for their nutrition.

If an athlete wants to follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, can he still guarantee his body a diet that will satisfy it?

Dr. Daniele Fortunato: Sure, it is possible. However, in this case, the support of the nutritionist is fundamental. It’s really hard that with the do-it-yourself you get good results and it’s difficult to avoid important nutritional deficiencies that affect not only the sports performance, but the patient’s health itself.

To conclude, could you give an advice to those who try in every way (and most of the times fail) to lose weight, without following a nutritional plan specially created for them?

Dr. Daniele Fortunato: Losing weight is easy. Losing weight properly is a little bit more difficult. If a person does not want to rely on a nutritionist, my advice is to simply eat a bit of everything in moderate quantities. Remove foods that are clearly harmful to health and exercise at least 3 times a week. I say it because losing weight incorrectly brings much more damage to health than having a few extra kilos. So if you do not know how to do it, it’s better to avoid doing it.

Nutrition is an extremely complex matter. Just think that even we, nutritionists, if we need to lose weight, we often have to develop a diet for ourselves as if we were patient, or we often rely on colleagues. Always be wary of those who must sell you a product, whether it is a supplement or a substitute for a meal or a miraculous program that involves taking slimming products.

Always ask for the qualifications and the registration number of the Biologists or Doctors’ Order. Like this, you can easily check his skills, trust who has studied medicine and biology and is able to take care first about your health and then about your physical appearance.

You can find more info on Dr. Daniele Fortunato on his website:


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Italian, dancing since the age of 5 and currently based in Moscow. With his partner Ekaterina Utkina, he is in the top 50 WDSF Adult Standard World Ranking, representing the Russian Federation.

Tags: advice coffee habit Health nutrition nutritionist

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