I've really gotten into nutrition over the course of the past few years, in large part due to T-Mag's great articles and applied nutrition approach as relating to athletic performance. I'm thinking about continuing my education with a degree in a nutritional or related field (my undergrad was biology), but have heard that many nutrition programs are a lot of fluff. I'm looking for a program that incorporates mostly hard science principles in the examination of nutrition, such as looking at it from biochemical, molecular, and physiological perspectives.
Do many of these programs exist? I know of one, UC Berkeley's program in Biochemical and Molecular Nutrition, but surely there must be others... thanks for the advice!
University of Bridgeport in Connecticut has an online one (also in person). I know 3 people who have/are taken it. I've seen the material and it does delve into the "scientific" aspect of nutrition as well as real world applications. As always its behind the times a bit. You'll definitly learn from the program (sure its the same at other universities) but the real learning will come from experience. Working one on one with clients and figuring out what works and doesnt work for them is when the "education" happens. You learn in school but become educated from real life experiences.
If you wanted something more hardcore "scientific'y" you're going to have to look into PhD programs for that. These programs only go so far.
I am looking for the more scientific programs, which is leading me to think that maybe I should be looking at molecular bio or biochem (although I don't have an extensive chem background, only general chem. I'll probably supplement with organic chem too, concurrent with my grad studies). It's hard for me to believe that there aren't ANY scientific-based nutrition programs out there. Or maybe not, as university nutritional programs may be a reflection of the larger societal eating habits and preferences... read: crappy American food.
I did (completed,passed) MSc Exercise and Nutrition Science via a sattelite of Liverpool Uni. It SUCKED ASS ! You'd learn more spending an hour a day on her e for a week than on a whole year of the course. I was continually correcting the lecturers, not cos I'm some muso / bighead but because they did not know the fuck they were on about. Plus the course was full of dickheads from places like Essex who thought beer was a sports drink.
Just out of interest what exactly do you do? I was also considering an MSc in some sort of Exercise science. As you know - the content and delivery of it is all down to the lecturer - if he/shes into what your into then your cooking on Gas.
After my first degree, food sci/nut I basically worked in product development in the food industry at the time I did a post grad in dairy chem and worked in the dairy industry more in prod dev. I then did the MSc which was a joke and then a Ph.D in Food Sci related.
By the time it was over I was sick of food and nutrition and started teaching the guitar which I still do. But in sept am doing a pgce somewhere and being a school teacher most probably, because I need a proper job again.
The content of most MSc's on ex/nut is very limited. I did a dissertation on the effects of giving calcium to female atheletes it was just a literature review, all it proved anyway is it lowered their blood pressure a bit.
Rather than do an MSc in ex sci/nut or ex sci it would be better to do a biochem or physiology sort of thing.
My first degree was quite good, the lecturers were excellent, but the MSc was too wishy washy and most of it was like high school biology level. Apparently its the same on many similar courses. The MSc lecturers used to say things like 'carbs don't make you fat' they used to hide when they saw me walking through the door.
Having said that most (90%) of what I know about nutrition etc did not come from any course, just reading up in my own time. I would guess this is the case for most people.
Don't get the two confused. Any asshole can call themsleves a nutritionist. Registered dietitians complete accredited coursework, a structured internship, and must pass the national exam. Most states also required licensing, as well. Many RD's also get higher degrees, and the ADA is thinking about making a MD a requirement to practice, too.
...but I'm getting tired of defending RDs on this site.
Anyway, to the original poster:
If you want to work with people or work in management as an RD, an undergraduate dietetics curriculum is structured to meet all the requirements set forth by the CADE. However, if your interests are more in research, biochemistry might suit you better.
Just keep in mind the licensing issue if you want to give advice. It's technically illegal to offer treatment in the way RDs do if your not registered and/or licensed.
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Anyway I did a month in a hospital working with three different dieticians who were responsible for quite serious aspects of patients ancillary treatment.
One had total misunderstanding of food based pathogens, one would not believe omega 3 are found anywhere else then fish oils and all of them said protein powder / vitamins are dangerous etc. Plus they knew FUCK ALL about healthy eating, nutrition, dietetics etc.
Unless someone who was a dietician read up elsewhere or was clued up to the failings of their knowledge I'd not employ them. They used to suggest eating more margerine as a good way to gain weigh in malnourished people.
I agree there are good dieticians / nutritionists but there aren't many.
Evidence? I don't think anybody has ever done a study to prove that academic nutrition sucks, but you can walk into the office of just about any practicing nutritionist and observe a poster of the food pyramid on the wall. Just considering where the mainstream is right now I think it's intuitive that the academic programs are poor.
And I have nothing against academica. It's just the fields of exercise and nutrition that are crappy. That's why I suggest studying biochem instead.
Just for the record, I was trying to slam nutrition, food science, dietetics, or any other course of study or profession. I just think a more general, hard science degree like biochemistry would open more doors. However, it's a moot point if you want to be an RD or nutritionist or what have you, then you need to do the prescribed program.
Anyone hear of a similar program to Berkeley's Molecular and Biochemical Nutrition PhD offering? It seems to be the only program in the States that uses hard science research to address nutritional issues.
On a sidenote, with mention of biochemistry, does anyone know prereqs required for graduate biochem study? Like I said before, my major was bio, but I didn't do that much chem and molecular work (took general chem, cell and molecular bio, calculus, biostats, but no organic chem or biochem). I'm hesitant to do staright-up biochem as I'm not that interested in applications outside of a nutritional context.
Aside from digging to find some profs who have a nutritional bias in their research, I feel I'd be stuck doing somone else's boring theoretical work. Well, not boring, but not as applied.
I'm no expert, but I'd think you almost certainly would have to take a 300 level ochem and some 400 level biochem. There are PhD. students in my department who had to take 400 level biochem after their masters work.