T Nation

Nutrition Career


#1

Ok, let me introduce myself a little. I got into the weight lifting scene like many people; trying to increase my football performance. I scoured the interenet for ways to become bigger stronger and faster, which led me to John Berardi's website. I read every article on there within a week and eventually found my way to T-Nation. I hardly ever post, but I've plunged through the huge depths of articles on my path to increase athletic performance. I've went from a flimsy 145 pound freshmen to standing at a solid 190 at the moment (while my damn height has stayed at exactly 5'8"), which I mostly attribute to John Berardi's nutrtional expertise along with the other trainer's routines I've followed. Well, now high school is almost over and the college admissions are rolling in. I need to make a few choices for the next part in my life.

I've been going back and foreward with thinking about pursuing a career in the field of athletics/nutrition. Becoming a nutritionist/dietician is somthing that really interests me, but it's a hard decision to make because I excel in many different academic subjects. I'm a little unsure of what it takes to become a nutritionist, so I'd like to be able to talk to someone in that field. If I was to persue this career, I'd eventually like to have my own private practice. I believe there is only one school I'm accpeted to that offers a B.S. in nutrition science. Is it possible/better to get a B.S. in biology or biochemistry and then persue graduate studies in nutrition? It would seem to me that a B.S. in nutrion science would be way too limited if I should change my mind about my career path.

Well, I'll stop my rambling and cross my fingers for someone to shoot me some much needed advice. Thanks a bunch.


#2

I'm not that terribly knowledgeable when it comes to the carrer world but from what I've heard it doesn't matter what your degree is in when it comes to getting a job. For instance my dad got his first degree in speech, and several advanced degrees in religion, then became PR director at texas new mexico power. And don't worry about your degree plan now, you'll probably change it before you start college, and you'll probably change it 3 or 4 more times when you're in college too, (I've known people to change degrees 16 or more times) and you'll probably change your career choice several times before you graduate as well. So don't worry about it.


#3

Not a nutritionist but if I did get into that field and maybe someday will I'd go for sports nutritionist. I'd much rather help athletes and potential athletes than fat ol' housewives.


#4

Ok, well I guess to summarize, my question is:

Will a degree in biology or biochemistry put me on a path where I can pursue a career in sports nutrition or somthing of that sort if I am still interested once I complete my degree?


#5

Yes. I am actually in the process of looking at MS degrees in nutrition and if you get a BS in biochem or biology, there are only a few prereqs for a MS degree in nutrition, but you can fulfill those if you get a minor in nutrition.

I personally took the BS in dietetics route, and am going to do the RD internship and then get an MS in hopefully sport nutrition or a combo of exercise physilogy and nutrition.


#6

Ouch-lol - too harsh. Wouldn't it be nice to know you'd be helping them getting unfat and more athletic?


#7

That would be VERY nice but honestly how many have the motivation to stick with it. No matter how hard you push and help some people always fold.


#8

I agree... many in fact would fold unfortunately, but I was just giving a nod to those seeking good advice that need it.


#9

It sounds like you want to help healthy people stay healthy rather than sick people become healthy.

Becoming an RD via an undergraduate dietetics program may not be the best for you, since much of the curriculum is focused on disease prevention and treatment and covers a broad range of populations (ages, health status, etc.)

If that doesn't interest you, perhaps a degree in biochemistry is best. Dietetics students take many biology and chemistry courses as required, so you'll certainly have that science base. What you wouldn't have are all the skills and knowledge on how to deal with specific populations, which you may not be particularly concerned about in regards to making it your living.

If you do take up biochem instead with the intent of going into nutrition, make sure you get some courses in human physiology.

In the end, you may find that you'll be better suited for research rather than interpersonal nutrition counseling, but that is based on the assumption that you'll need to learn those skills. You may not, but there is more to evaluating nutritional status than looking at some numbers.

Just a note, an undergraduate degree in dietetics (and subsequent internship and passing of the RD exam), is not limiting. There are countless things you could do that stem beyond the clinical...research, community initiatives, foodservice management, corporate consultation, etc. I think it's a matter of whether or not you'd feel like your wasting your time learning about things that you may have little interest in.


#10

Nutrition degrees are worthless.

They will make you think that JB is the anti-Christ.

They will frustrate you as they pour ultra-conservative, out of date info down your throat and try to tell you that you will kill someone if they eat 1g too much protein.

The teachers are almost all women and have no clue about athletes or the hardcore

They are more interested in the sales of soy and condemning saturated fat than they are improving body composition. The Sports nutrition degree is not much better. It seems to be taught by Gatorade and the NCAA. The whole curriculums is littered with the interest of big corporations and the opinion of a few stubborn "experts".

You need a straight up hardcore science degree in Biochemistry. Then you can take that into graduate work where theyn may learn something there.


#11

If someone wants to be a registered dietitian, nutrition degrees with dietetics tracks are the best option, because they fulfill all the undergraduate requirements set forth by the ADA and CADE. There are a lot of specific areas of study that would be otherwise difficult to complete.

...because we all know that he is only person in the whole universe who has any idea what he's talking about when it comes to nutrition. How blessed he is to be the only enlightened one!

If there's one thing that my professors always do is discuss the latest nutrition research with us. Geez, one ongoing project I have is to create a log of news articles on nutrition topics. We are always discussing the latest findings.

As for your comment on protein...I've found that it's the position of most dietitians that a lot of protein isn't dangerous, it's just not necessary for most people, especially if it crowds out other nutrients. That's when it becomes dangerous...when people take it to extremes.

They're all women so they must be stupid! They certainly don't know anything about sports!

First of all, you will hear a lot about soy from dietitians because it is controversial, specifically in regards to breast cancer and heart disease. It is also in many new products that dietitians must evaluate. Just because they talk a lot about it doesn't mean that they think it's the greatest thing in the world. They are mostly trying to figure out how it can best be used. The smart ones proceed with caution.

And you're right about them not caring as much about body composition. Dietitians do so much more than worry about whether housewives are getting fat. They serve people with diabetes, heart disease, celiac disease, renal disease, liver disease, gastrointestinal disorders, allergies, PKU, inborn errors of metabolism, chronic illnesses, cancer, AIDS, as well as preterm infants, low-birth weight babies, children with feeding problems, pregnant women, and post-operative patients. Just to name a few.

Do you think they care if Joe Shmoe has 10% bodyfat or 8.5%?

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Please take your sexist and narrow-minded remarks somewhere else.


#12

Well, I guess I need to do some research on what the prerequisits are if I want to do graduate work in nutrition, but that is somewhat secondary. I need to figure out which one of these awesome schools in SoCal I should attend for the next 4 years.


#13

Where did you get accepted?

Depending on the type of program you're looking for, you could try transferring to another school at some point. Pretty much any nutrition program will have introductory biology, chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry as prerequisites, and most schools that offer science courses will have those, but other courses and requirements will vary from school to school.

Of course, if you do intend to major in nutrition, do be prepared to hear a lot of things that will fly in the face of what you've learned here at T-Nation. I know people here have discussed this in the past, and as a nutrition major at Cornell it's happened to me too. This doesn't mean that you can't learn anything from your professors, nor does it mean that everything here is wrong. You may not get a whole lot of new or useful information from your college courses, but hopefully you'll learn how to think critically.

And regarding the RD route, most programs don't have much coursework in exercise physiology or sports nutrition built into the DPD requirements; remember that not all dietitians want to be sports nutritionists. The clinical nutrition and foodservice coursework are important for becoming an RD, and for some dietitians these are the areas they really want to concentrate in for their careers, but they may not be so interesting to someone who just wants to work with athletes.

On the other hand, concentrating only on the science aspect isn't necessarily going to prepare you to work in a private practice setting. You may find that a more research-oriented career may suit you better, but if you are going to educate others, you need to be able to get your message across. Some people may just naturally be good at this, but you may want to look into some coursework dealing with counseling or education (nutrition programs normally do offer courses on this, but you may also consider an elective in some other department like communication).

Best of luck in your decision-making process.


#14

I've found that the information I get in the classroom and the information on T-Nation are not diametrically opposed. The differences are primarily a matter of perspective and priority. I agree with you that critical thinking is a big payoff.