85030 - Human Nutrition

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Zero hunger Good health and well-being

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student will know:

- the basic concepts of Human Nutrition, the difference between diet and nutrition, macro- and micro-nutrients their digestion and absorption, and their different functions.

- the main parameters used to evaluate the quality of foods and the effects these have on the organism.

- the nutritional needs of the athlete, the timing of how the energy reserves are exploited by the body and the optimal nutrition to prepare the body for a specific exercise. The student knows what are the basic principles of nutrition during exercise and what are the best strategies to maximize recovery.

Course contents

Basic Nutrition

Digestion and absorption
Gastrointestinal tract, oral cavity and esophagus, Stomach, Small Intestine, Large Intestine
Enzymes and zymogens, pancreatic secretion, hormones, bile acids and biliary secretion
Digestion of proteins, digestion of carbohydrates, enzymes used for digestion of carbohydrates
Digestion of lipids, absorption in the small intestine; Amino Acids, Monosaccharides; Fats; Absorption of water-soluble vitamins, fat soluble vitamin absorption, absorption of water and electrolytes; absorption of minerals and trace elements; absorption of different substances, resistance to digestion of nutrients.

Chemical characterization of carbohydrates: monosaccharides and their derivatives, Disaccharides, Polysaccharides, Carbohydrates in food, RDAs for carbohydrate, glycemic index, carbohydrates Importance of physical exercise, not-available carbohydrates; Definition of dietary fiber, fiber components, functional classification of dietary fiber; role on health; nutrition recommendations.

Fatty acids, cholesterol, presence of lipids in food; oxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids (lipid peroxidation), absorption and transport; apolipoprotein and function of lipoproteins, metabolism of fatty acids, dietary fatty acids, essential fatty acids and synthesis of prostaglandins, saturated fatty acids, trans fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids. Conjugated linoleic acid.

The proteins and their turnover, amino acids, dietary sources of amino acids, dietary proteins, branched chain amino acids, protein digestibility, protein quality and methods of measurement; chemical score, biological value, efficiency score, amino acid score corrected for digestibility, protein requirements; Protein turnover and nitrogen balance; Recommended dietary intake, Protein required for physical activity; Protein sources; Problems associated with excessive consumption of protein; Needs of amino acids; Physical activities and eating disorders; Physical activity needs of individual amino acids.


Water-soluble vitamins: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 or PP (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6, H (biotin), folic acid, B12 (cobalamin), Vitamin C. Fat-soluble vitamins A (retinol), D, E and K.

The water and the water balance
The water, the water molecule, water and food, mineral water, water and body water balance; hypohydration and dehydration, overhydration and hyponatremia.

Macroelements: calcium (Ca), chlorine (Cl), phosphorus (P), magnesium (Mg), potassium (K), sodium (Na), Sulfur (S).
Micronutrients and trace elements: iron (Fe), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), fluorine (F), selenium (Se), chromium (Cr), other minerals.


Alcohol and beverages with nerve stimulant properties


Methods for evaluating metabolic expenditure.


The food pyramid and the Mediterranean diet


Nutrition in Sport

The production of ATP to support physical activities: Notes of bioenergetics in exercise: the ways of energy production - The methods of replenishing ATP; Theoretical coverage of the various bioenergy routes - Type of muscle fibers and preferential use of the various pathways - energy systems and metabolic pathways during muscle contraction - metabolic fate of lactate - Use of different substrates and respiratory quotient: the skeletal muscle.

Nutrition for athletes: General principles - Critical points in sport nutrition - Energy consumption and body weight - Planning of diet - The diet before exercise - The diet during sports - The diet after sports

The vegetarian sportsman: The different forms of vegetarianism - The energy balance - The macronutrient distribution - The distribution of micronutrients - Other nutrients - Creatine - Antioxidants: Oxidative stress and exercise; antioxidant status of vegetarians and omnivores; Effect of integration with antioxidants – Nutrition before, during and after exercise - Vegetarianism and athletic performance - Vegetarianism and the female athlete triad - Young vegetarian athletes - Famous vegetarians.

The sports nutrition in diabetes: Diabetes - The energy metabolism during exercise in physiology and in diabetes - Adjusting the mobilization of the substrates during exercise - metabolic adaptations in regular physical activity - Risks and benefits of physical activity - Suggested activities - Evaluation of the nutritional needs of the diabetic athlete - The dietary plan - supplements

Oxidative stress and antioxidant activity - The oxygen paradox and the formation of ROS - Production of radicals within the cell - The development of antioxidant defenses - Specific antioxidant mechanisms: prevention, neutralization, dismutation, scavenging and quenching - antioxidant enzymes: superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT), glutathione peroxidase (GPX) - non-enzymatic antioxidants: Glutathione - physical activity and oxidative stress - oxidative stress, athletic performance and muscle fatigue - Antioxidants food and supplements.

Supplements for Sport: - Legislation Introduction – Sport drink - Factors affecting the absorption of sport drinks: Volume of beverage, calorie content of the drink; osmolality of the solution ingested; pH of the drink consumed; intensity physical exercise; Factors affecting the intestinal absorption; - Function of the different minerals and ions: Sodium and Potassium, Magnesium and Chlorine - Other molecules used in rehydration: glycerol - energy supplements containing lipids - Triacylglycerides medium-chain (MCT) - Acid conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) - Protein supplements and protein requirements for athletes - Metabolism of amino acids in skeletal muscle in response to exercise - protein catabolism during exercise - Regulation of protein synthesis and degradation during exercise - Regulation of muscle branched chain amino acids metabolism - branched chain amino acids and the hypothesis of the "central fatigue" - Other molecules derived from amino acid used as supplements - Creatine: Creatine supplementation and muscle levels of ATP and phosphocreatine - Oral supplementation with creatine and sports performance; Recent indications of the effects of creatine, - L-Carnitine - Carnosine and N-β-alanyl-L-histidine, - supplements of antioxidant molecules

The high-level athlete: How to promote protein synthesis - Reduction of fat mass and efficiency - Nutrition for the sprinter - Nutrition for the long distance runners - Nutrition for sports of strength and power - Team games and Individual sports - Winter Sports

GM foods: GMO - Natural vs Artificial - A Short History of agriculture - Benefits - Disadvantages - Need for awareness.

Eating disorders: Anorexia - Bulimia - Binge eating disorder - The female athlete triad


Principi di Nutrizione . A cura di: Biagi, Di Giulio, Fiorilli e Lorenzini. 2010, Casa Editrice Ambrosiana. Volume 1 della collana: Nutrizione per lo Sport.

Alimentazione per lo sport e la salute. A cura di Biagi, Di Giulio, Fiorilli e Lorenzini. 2010, Casa Editrice Ambrosiana. Volume 2 della collana: Nutrizione per lo Sport.

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons

Assessment methods

The learning assessment is conducted through a final written exam lasting 30 minutes without the aid of notes or books. The written test consists of true or false sentences.

Teaching tools


Office hours

See the website of Antonello Lorenzini