Open Colleges

What is a Sports Dietitian?

by Chloe Baird
Posted: June 23, 2020

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Are you fascinated by the science behind food and nutrition? Are you passionate about health and creating good habits? Are you the kind of person who always likes problem solving and learning new things? 

If you’re also a sports fan and love staying fit and active, then becoming a Sports Dietitian might be a great career choice for you.

What is the difference between a Dietitian and a Nutritionist?

Though the two roles are related, they are not quite the same thing. The major difference between the two vocations is accreditation. The thing to remember is that Dieticians can also be Nutritionists, but Nutritionists cannot be Dietitians.

The study of nutrition involves the science behind food and healthy eating. Nutritionists can use their knowledge to educate and advise people on healthy eating habits and how food can affect their overall health and wellbeing. 

People may undertake a Nutritionist qualification in order to broaden their own skillset. For example, a Personal Trainer who wishes to also provide healthy nutritional advice to clients.  

A Dietitian can also provide nutrition-based advice, but what sets that apart from Nutritionists is that they have gone on to obtain further qualifications that allow them to provide dietary counselling and food service management. They can work one-one-one with individuals in a clinical environment, which could see them providing advice to clients on the nutritional treatment of diseases and health conditions (such as diabetes). 

So, what does a Sports Dietitian do?

A Sports Dietitian performs the same kind of services as a Dietitian but to a much more specialised degree where they consult with athletes and sportspeople of all different levels. 

Your main goal as a Sports Dietitian is to help athletes reach their goals. This could include researching new information in the field, creating nutrition and meal plans and developing new recipes. You could find yourself working not only with direct clients, but coaches, chefs and sports medicine professionals, too. 

What services does a Sports Dietitian provide?

Do you go to the gym? Do you play sports on the weekend? Has your coach, or personal trainer, ever given you advice on losing weight or bulking up?

An accredited Sports Dietitian is in a position to offer athletes the best and most informed advice on what kind of dietary requirements they should implement to fit in with their training regimen. 

Some of the information they can provide their clients with includes: 

  • Dietary analysis – including pre- and post-training meal planning, carbohydrates and protein intake, and monitoring for food-related medical issues such as diabetes and eating disorders.
  • Weight management – including strategies for weight loss and bulking up.
  • Competition eating – including preparation for a competition and what to do after a competition.
  • Hydration – including daily fluid needs and hydration strategies.

Do you have the right personality to be a Sports Dietitian?

The most obvious thing here is that you need to be passionate about health, and helping people achieve their health goals through nutrition. 

To be a Sports Dietitian, you need to be passionate, enthusiastic, driven, curious, and encouraging. You also need be willing to go that extra step for your clients, as not everyone will require the same kind of nutritional advice. This means really digging deep into the kind of nutritional advice that will benefit your clients on an individual level. For example, an NRL player is not going to require the same kind of meal plan as, say, a gymnast. 

A career in Allied Health Assistance

If you’re looking to move into the nutrition industry, then a great place to start is with a qualification in Allied Health Assistance. 

Open Colleges’ HLT43015 Certificate IV in Allied Health Assistance (Nutrition and Dietetics) has been developed to teach you the skills and knowledge you need to begin a career in nutrition. 

This course will give you the tools you need to become an assistant to a healthcare professional. 

This is an online course, which means you can fit your study around your life’s other commitments. During the course, you will also have access to a simulated clinic, which will help you get used to working in a health centre even though you are studying online.  



Chloe Baird

Chloe is an Open Colleges alumnus who now works full time for OC as a Content and Copywriting Specialist. She is passionate about encouraging others to pursue their goals through education.

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