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What Does a Nutritionist Really Do, and Do I Need One?



What Does a Nutritionist Really Do, and Do I Need One?
No one eats perfectly for their body all the time: a 2013 study of over 2,000 adults found that 74 percent of Americans regularly experience gastrointestinal distress. Whether you want to stop waking up ravenous at 2 A.M., find a sports drink that won't give you acid reflux, or quit feeling bloated all the time, a better diet can make eating easier-and can help you train longer, harder, and faster.


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Nutrition advice

From all the dietary information from wellness influencers, only one in 12 recommendations is nutritionally sound.

The easiest way to sift through the bad advice is to find a certified expert. 



Look for the Letters

There is no certification required to call yourself a nutritionist.

  • A registered dietician requires a bachelor's degree at an accredited university. A licensed dietitian will have RD, RDN, LD, LDN, or CDN after their name, depending on the state they live in.
  • Holistic nutritionists do a six-month training course.
  • Functional-nutrition practitioners do and 80-hour training course.
  • Intuitive health coaches do a 200-hour training course
  • Some well-educated experts have not followed the typical career pathway.


The Athlete

If you're training at a high volume, consulting with an RD who doesn't have a sports background is not what you need as they might not understand the rigors of training for enduro races.

A board-certified specialist in sports dietetics, which requires an additional 2,000 hours of sports-specific nutrition training, has the acronym CSSD.


Have a goal in mind

When you're going to see a nutritionist, you should have a goal in mind, whether that's gaining strength or losing weight.

Once you've picked a nutritionist who seems aligned with your goals, write a list of your questions and what you hope to achieve beforehand. Keep a food log, or snap pictures of everything you eat, ahead of your appointment to ensure your dietitian can get a good view of your eating habits.


Watch for Red Flags

...at the first appointment with a nutritionist.

  • The eliminator: Telling you that you may never eat something. It can trigger a disordered relationship with food and is not rooted in science.
  • The pill popper: Be careful of anyone selling a product in addition to following their plan. The best way to get nutrients is through a varied, whole-food-based diet.
  • The one-size-fits-all: Be aware of someone who likes only one style of eating, like vegan or keto. A good nutritionist will be well versed in a wide array of diet patterns.
  • The therapist: If a dietician thinks you need extra help, they should be recommending another expert, not overstep boundaries.


A successful first visit

A good nutritionist will go through your current diet, discuss nutrition basics, and work together to set realistic goals.

You should be able to get answers to your specific questions and a rough action plan. Expect to book a follow-up.



Intuitive eating

This is not a diet. Intuitive eating is an approach to health and food that emphasizes learning to give your body what it needs.

It doesn't involve rules related to how or w...

Quiet your inner food police

Recognize and silence your inner critic.

An example of your inner food police: if you're scanning a restaurant menu and you catch yourself saying "That’s not healthy. That’s too many servings. That’s too high fat, " that voice is not yours, although it feels like it. It's only fueled by external messaging.

Stop moralizing

Food isn’t good or bad. Don't fall for this 'black or white' way of thinking.

Health and nutrition exist on a gradient. Keeping your health in mind when making food choices is totally in line with intuitive eating, but being rigid about healthy eating isn’t.

Reject the diet mentality

Dieting isn’t sustainable. Quick-fix plans cannot deliver lasting results.
he first principle of intuitive eating is to stop dieting—and to stop believing societ...

Honor your hunger

Eat a sufficient amount of calories and carbohydrates to keep your body “fed” and satiated. Once you learn to recognize these signals in your own body, it becomes much easier to trust your instincts and repair unhealthy relationships with food.

Make peace with food

Give yourself “unconditional permission to eat.”

People realize they don’t really want that food that was forbidden before; they just got caught up in society telling them they couldn’t have it.

A ketogenic diet...

A ketogenic diet...

... is predominantly made up of high-fat foods , including butter, oils, meat, fish, eggs and cheese, and very low-carb vegetables such as cauliflower and leafy greens. 


Ketosis discovery

Keto was developed as a clinical tool.

In 1911, doctors noticed that children with epilepsy stopped having seizures after 2 days of absolute fasting, when their bodies would have been forced into ketosis. 

Scientists later noted that ketosis could be achieved through a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet without the risk of infection and mortality rates associated with absolute fasting

Keto popularity

Most newcomers are drawn to keto for its potential weight loss benefits, and, while it remains a topic of debate among nutritional scientists, its proponents typically gloss over the unknowns.

The real driving force behind keto’s popularity is our myopic focus on weight as the sole determinant of health.