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Students and those interested in sports nutrition often ask me: so tell me, what are you doing in your job? First, it’s a great job! Maybe you will not be able to do all the duties we are supposed to do, sometimes it works differently when you are part of a team or an organization. Roles differ between teams. For sure you have to be flexible in what you do. And you need to like/love food. It’s not a must to compete yourself but to know what it feels like when you finish a competition or a training camp, when you have the pressure to succeed and win is for sure no disadvantage. As a sports dietitian it’s also good if you try different approaches yourself. Different fuel strategies, trading on empty stomach, fueling with natural food vs. sport nutrition products. The more experiences you have yourself, the better you can understand an athlete. To know what the job itself involves, I had a look at the Academy’s resources and found the following description:

POSITION SUMMARY

The Sports Dietitian provides individual and group/team nutrition counseling and education to enhance the performance of competitive and recreational athletes, on-site and during travel. Primary responsibilities include counseling individuals and groups on daily nutrition for performance and health; translating the latest scientific evidence into practical sports nutrition recommendations; tracking and documenting outcomes of nutrition services, serving as a food and nutrition resource for coaches, trainers, and parents; providing sports nutrition education for health/wellness programs, athletic teams, and community groups; and maintaining professional competency and skills required for professional practice.

Primary responsibilities and duties of a sports dietitian:

Individual Nutrition Counseling

– Assesses and analyzes dietary practices, body composition, and energy balance (intake and expenditure) of athletes in the context of athletic performance and health.

– Counsels athletes on optimal nutrition for exercise training (match nutrition to training phases and goals), competition, recovery from exercise, weight management, hydration, immunity, disordered eating, travel, and supplementation.

– Counsels athletes on achieving and maintaining a level of body mass, body fat, and muscle mass that is consistent with good health and good performance.

– Provides personalized meal and snack plans to promote achieving short- and long-term goals for athletic performance and good health.

– Develops and counsels in hydration protocols.

– Addresses nutritional challenges to performance, such as food allergies, bone mineral disturbances, gastrointestinal disturbances, iron depletion, and iron-deficiency anemia.

– Provides medical nutrition therapy, as needed, to help manage or treat medical conditions.

– Counsels athletes on optimal nutrition for recovery from illness or injury.

– Coordinates nutritional care as a member of multidisciplinary sports medical/sports science teams.

– Evaluates nutritional supplements, including herbal supplements, for legality, safety, quality, and efficacy; monitors use of appropriate supplementation.

– Collaborates with the individual’s family, physician, coach, and other health professionals, as appropriate.

– Develops resources to support educational efforts.

– Educates in food selection (grocery store tours, food storage) and food preparation (cooking classes).

– Documents nutrition services provided and evaluates the effectiveness of nutrition strategies towards meeting desired outcomes using the Nutrition Care Process.

– Educates and mentors employees as appropriate.

– Supervises employees.

– Develops and oversees nutrition policies and procedures.

Food Service and Menu Development

– Coordinates/manages quantity food production and distribution such as developing and managing training table menus and catering.

– Coordinates nutrition for domestic and/or international travel, for example, catering, hotels, airlines, competition, for individuals and teams.

– Manages budgets for purchasing and distribution of nutritional supplements.

– Develops and delivers nutrition education for food service personnel.

Nutrition Education for Teams, Groups, or Wellness Programs

– Develops and delivers nutrition education presentations, demonstrations, or events on various topics related to nutrition for performance.

– Plans menus for training table and team travel.

– Recommends appropriate pre-, during, and post-exercise fluids and snacks for individual training, team practice, and competition.

– Provides individual nutrition counseling as needed.

– Serves as a nutrition resource for coaches, teachers, trainers, food service personnel, and parents.

Professional Development

– Maintains dietetic registration and continuing education requirements.

– Develops and implements an individualized portfolio plan for professional growth and development including participation in professional organizations and activities, workshops, seminars, and development programs.

– Stays abreast of current food, nutrition, and health issues and research related to sports nutrition.

Source: Job Descriptions: Models for the Dietetics Profession, 2nd edition, 2008. American Dietetic Association, ISBN: 978-0-88091-420-8.