What's the Job Description of a Sports and Fitness Nutritionist?

Athletes develop strong bodies through a combination of exercise and diet. As a sports nutritionist, it's your job to help develop the right diet for clients that will help them be healthy and fuel their bodies for exercise. Read on to learn about the job duties, education requirements and career outlook. Schools offering Fitness & Nutrition degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Occupational Overview

As a sports and fitness nutritionist, you'll design diets and nutritional guidelines for clients who are serious sports or fitness participants. It's your job to ensure that what you recommend your clients eat enhances their performances and doesn't have ill effects. As you design diet plans for clients, you may have to create them to help promote weight loss or muscle growth or to increase energy. You'll use basic diet principles and your client's desired results to plan out each diet.

Important Facts About Dietitians & Nutritionists

On-the-Job Training Internships available
Key Skills Observation, critical thinking, persuasion, problem-solving, reading comprehension, close listening, clear written and spoken communication, social nuance
Work Environment Hospitals; government agencies; nursing and residential care facilities; outpatient care centers; accommodation and food services
Similar Occupations Registered nurses; rehabilitation counselors; health educators; community health workers

Duties and Responsibilities

To prepare diet plans for clients, you meet with them to discuss their desired results. You may talk to them about their physical activities, calorie needs, nutritional guidelines, and what constitutes a healthy diet. Part of your job may be to educate your clients on why they need to include nutrients in their diet or how food affects their bodies. You may also help clients understand how eating the right foods can help their bodies to heal more quickly, prevent injuries, increase energy, and assist with muscle growth.

While developing a plan for clients, you'll consider the objectives and use your basic knowledge of the body and the effect of food on the body to create a diet that will allow clients to reach their goals. You may write out a detailed plan, listing the exact foods to be eaten each day, including when they are to be eaten. You may also provide a general diet plan, listing the foods that should be eaten and those that are discouraged.

You also follow up with clients to see how the diet plan is working. If the client is not getting the desired results, you assess his or her eating habits for issues and discuss exercise habits to see what's happening. You may need to adjust diet plans for clients who have increased or decreased activity levels, are in training, have been ill, or who feel the current plan is not working.

Professional Requirements

To work as a nutritionist, you need to earn a bachelor's degree in dietetics, nutrition or food service management and complete field experience. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), licensing, certification, and registration requirements for dietitians and nutritionists vary in each state and are often based upon the job title being used (www.bls.gov). States requiring licensing usually only allow you to work under the job title 'dietitian' or 'nutritionist' if you have obtained a license, which requires the completion of a bachelor's degree, gaining supervised experience and passing an exam. States with certification and registration requirements may not be as strict, and you may not be required to obtain certification or register to work in this field.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, there were 64,670 jobs held by dietitians and nutritionists in May 2018 (www.bls.gov). The projected job growth for this field was 15% from 2016-2026. The BLS reported the median annual salary for dietitians and nutritionists in May 2018 as $60,370.

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