Many individuals find sports nutrition fascinating because it specializes within the field of nutritional science and exercise physiology. To perform any kind of physical activity, it requires optimal nutrition to provide fuel and to enhance performance. It also allows for the repair and rebuild after strenuous work. Because growing research has shown the importance of between nutrition and performance, there has been an increased interest and demand in sports nutrition, thus leading to emerging career opportunities in this field.
In the department of Clinical and Applied Movement Sciences, Assistant Professor Ben Gordon focuses on energy balance, supplements and phytochemicals. After completing a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Miami, like many students, he questioned what his next steps in academia would be. Because he had worked at the wellness center as a senior fitness supervisor at the University of Miami, he decided he’d pursue a master’s degree in exercise science at the University of South Carolina. In 2008, he began his masters working as a graduate assistant and was guided by mentor Dr. Larry Durstine. The first research study he was a part of was a study that focused on a phytochemical called quercetin and its effect on downhill running recovery in mice. In their research they found that quercetin was effective in reducing the different scales of pain. In the spring of 2009, he was able to present his findings at the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) meeting. During this time period phytochemical research was vastly emerging and many individuals were interested in its cancer fighting abilities and health improving properties. He continued to do more studies on quercetin and in two years he completed his master’s degree.
In 2011, he began his PhD with an emphasis in Energy Balance, which is the relationship between food intake (energy in) and the calories used for daily energy expenditure (energy out). In his PhD, he began a human observational study with Dr. Gregory Hand. In this study, they measured the different markers of energy intake, energy expenditure and body composition in subjects that were 18-35 years of age. Every three months subjects would come in to get measured without having any intervention implemented. To make sure subjects would accurately know how to measure their food intake and servings, they’d meet with a dietitian. The purpose of this study was to find out what was causing the positive energy balance in Americans. In finalizing their data, they found that subjects had gained about 1kg of body weight yearly. However, they did find that the subjects in their study had a higher energy expenditure than the average American. Unfortunately, the study was not published because subjects who had found themselves in different groups (i.e. positive energy balance, energy balance and negative energy balance) were in these groups for different reasons and characteristics. For example, there were subjects who were found in to be the positive energy balance group that had low energy intake but with their activities being sedentary. In research studies, it can be difficult to find subjects that are not entirely honest in their diet recalls as time progresses which can make it difficult for researchers to conduct their data accurately. However, their data did confirm that without intervention American’s were gaining weight on a yearly basis. After graduating with a Doctorate in Applied Physiology with a dissertation in energy balance and weight gain, he helped develop and open a wellness personal training program at the University of South Carolina. At this facility he was the manager of the personal training program, ran affiliated accounts and conducted the advertising.
On January 29th, 2016 he was hired to come on board as an assistant professor for the University of North Florida. Since then, he has enjoyed teaching classes such as exercise physiology and exercise prescription. He has recently applied for a research grant with Dr. Arikawa to perform a research study on supplements. If any of you have any questions about sports nutrition, exercise science and performance don’t hesitate to stop by Dr. Gordon’s office.