We’ve said it before and will doubtlessly say it many more times: Nutrition is absolutely vital. If your diet is on-point, your workout performance will noticeably improve – as will your overall sense of well-being – for the simple reason that your body will be properly fueled. A diet that is lacking, however, will logically have the opposite effect, detracting from your ability to keep up with the demands of your life.
In an effort to get themselves on the right nutritional path, many individuals have decided to spend some time with a dietitian. But, what exactly is a registered dietitian and when might it be a good idea to see one?
What Dietitians Do
As the name suggests, a Dietitian is a health professional who has extensively studied the science of diet and nutrition. More correctly called Registered Dietitians (RDs), these experts must attain either a 4-year Bachelor Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics or a 3-year Science Degree followed by a Master Degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, including a certain period of practical training – although it should be noted that the requirements vary slightly from state to state.
After receiving their basic license, some RDs go a step further and specialize in specific areas such as cardiovascular rehabilitation, diabetes or sports nutrition.
Thanks to their extensive training and experience, Dietitians are fully qualified to prescribe specific diets that can be tailored to individuals needs. To fully appreciate the services offered by Dietitians, it’s important to point out that – unlike Nutritionist, Herbalist, Naturalist or similar titles – “Registered Dietitian” and “Dietitian” are protected titles like “Doctor,” meaning that an individual must be properly qualified to legally use the term.
While Nutritionists and other professionals may be very knowledgeable in their field, their scope of practice is fairly limited. Only a Registered Dietitian is legally allowed to design specific plans for diet and supplementation, especially when health conditions are involved.
When To See A Dietitian
As mentioned, Registered Dietitians are in a position to design specific nutritional plans for your needs. While Personal Trainers and Nutritionists are limited in what they can legally only walk you through the federal dietary guidelines, Dietitians are able to create a more personal program for your needs.
This is incredibly valuable in a number of situations. If, for example, you have a condition such as Type II diabetes that can be controlled through proper diet, a Registered Dietitian can do exactly that. Individuals with eating disorders, severe food allergies or who have struggled with obesity despite dieting in the past can all benefit from the careful guidance of a skilled Dietitian.
Of course, athletes stand to gain plenty from spending time with a Dietitian. This will allow you to create a dietary plan that is completely tailored to your training style, strength, weaknesses, likes, dislikes and goals. A Dietitian is also in a position to recommend certain supplements that may benefit you – like those provided by Gnarly – while also protecting you from some that can be harmful to your health.