98042 - Nutritional Physiology - Applied Nutrition

Course Unit Page


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

Good health and well-being

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student knows: - the physiology of the motor, secretory and absorption functions of the human digestive system; - energy consumption and nutritional needs in basal conditions and during physical exercise; - the nervous and hormonal mechanisms regulating food intake; - the water balance and the nervous mechanisms that regulate water intake; - methods for assessing the nutritional status under physiological conditions. Furthermore, at the end of the course the student: - knows the characteristics of the physiological diet and the coverage of nutritional needs through food; - understands and knows how to apply the interaction between diet and physical activity, and the main methods for proper hydration and nutrition in the athlete; - will be able to critically assess the risks associated with so called "fad diets"; - knows the basic aspects of eating disorders, with particular attention to those in athletes

Course contents

Functions of the digestive system

Motor and secretory functions of the digestive system

Nervous and hormonal control of the functions of the digestive system. Chewing. Salivary secretion. Swallowing. Motility and gastric secretion. Vomit. Pancreatic and biliary secretion. Emptying of the gallbladder. Motility and secretions of the small and large intestine. Defecation.

Digestion and absorption

Digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, proteins and lipids. Absorption of water, alcohol, vitamins and minerals.

Functions of the intestinal microbiota.

Stimulation of the immune system. Defense against exogenous bacteria. Digestion of nutrients not otherwise digestible. Synthesis of vitamins. Metabolism of estrogens and procarcinogens. Prebiotics and probiotics.

Energy metabolism, nutritional requirements and food homeostasis.

Energy metabolism. Energy metabolism and factors affecting it. Basal metabolism. Calorimetry. Predictive equations, evaluation of substrate oxidation and their applications. Energy consumption in physical exercise. Nutritional requirement Nutritional needs in physical exercise. Reference levels of nutrient and energy intake for the Italian population (LARN).

Regulation of food and water intake.

Nerve centers and hormonal factors that regulate food intake. Body weight regulation. Regulation of water intake and water balance. Mechanism of thirst.

Nutrition status assessment

Body composition analysis: anthropo-plicometry, bioimpedance analysis and their applications. Techniques for detecting ingested foods: applications and limits.

Healthy nutrition in the general population: guidelines.

Food groups: subgroups and types of foods, characteristic nutrients and advice for consumption. Standard portions and daily subdivision of meals. The Mediterranean Diet: definition and health characteristics; food sources of bioactive compounds.

Exercise: rating my nutrition.

Standard food plans for the general population.

Extreme dietary regimes: evidence and risks.Fad diets.

Eating disorders in the athlete.

Definition. Risk factors. The athlete's triad. Principles of prevention of eating disorders. The role of the Sports Science graduate in the multidisciplinary team dealing with eating disorders.

Principles of nutrition and hydration in athletes.

Nutrition and hydration during training, pre-competition, competition, recovery, rest periods (endurance sports. power sports, alternating sports, dexterity sports.

Precautions in nutrition in athletes with diabetes.


L. Debellis, A. Poli - Alimentazione, nutrizione e salute, EdiSES, 2019.

- E. Carbone, G. Aicardi, R. Maggi - Fisiologia: dalle molecole ai sistemi integrati (seconda edizione), EdiSES, 2018.

- P. Biagi, A. Di Giulio, A. Fiorilli, A. Lorenzini - Principi di nutrizione, Casa Editrice Ambrosiana, 2010 (volume 1 della collana: Nutrizione per lo sport).

- W.D. Mcardle, F.I. Katch, V.L. Katch - Fisiologia applicata allo sport: aspetti energetici, nutrizionali e performance (terza edizione), Casa Editrice Ambrosiana, 2018.

CREA (Centro Ricerca Alimenti e Nutrizione) Linee Guida Italiane per una Sana Alimentazione, 2018.

Further readings:

Asker Jeukendrup, Michael Gleeson.Sport Nutrition (3rd Edition 2019). Human Kinetics. ISBN 9781492529033

Marie Spano, Laura Kruskall, D. Travis Thomas. Nutrition for Sport, Exercise, and Health (2018)- only part IV. Human Kinetics ISBN 9781450414876



Teaching methods

Lessons using Powerpoint slides and videos.

Practical interactive training using online software.

Assessment methods

Oral examination on the above quoted topics. This could be preceded by a multiple choice written test.

Teaching tools

The Unibo Virtuale platform is used on which the main slides used during the lectures, videos and other teaching material are loaded. Some of the contents on Virtuale - except the slides which will be available to all students - may be reserved for students attending the Course only.

Students with Specific Learning Disabilities are asked to inform the teacher before the start of the course to plan the necessary adaptations. Please note that prior contact with the Unibo Service for Students with SLD is required.

Office hours

See the website of Maria Letizia Petroni

See the website of Fiorenza Stagni