What is a Dietitian and Nutritionist?
We constantly get asked to explain the difference between a Dietitian and Nutritionist. Yes they're different and yes we will always correct you when you call us a Nutritionist. Read on to find out why we get slightly offended ;)
Australia currently does not regulate the professional titles ‘nutritionist’ or 'dietitian', leaving a wide market for misinformation if you do not do your own research. The media also tends to use the two terms interchangeably, making distinctions between qualifications increasingly difficult. Read on as we break down the differences between these professions, their relevant qualifications, what they can do for you and what to look for when looking for a professional.
This term can be the most confusing of the three, as there are varying levels of qualifications that result in the title ‘nutritionist’. Nutrition is a three year university degree, but there is currently no regulation over this title in Australia, meaning anyone can call themselves a nutritionist if they want, even you. Even if they have only completed a 20 minute online lecture!
The Nutrition Society of Australia is currently attempting to clear up confusion with a voluntary registration that requires a minimum three year tertiary degree, or relevant years of work experience, to gain the title Registered Nutritionist (RNutr). Nutritionists have completed study pertaining to community and public health, food science and food policy. They are qualified to offer broad health advice, however are not qualified to deliver individualised medical nutrition therapy. In Australia, every dietitian is a nutritionist, but not every nutritionist can call themselves a dietitian unless they've gone on to complete further study. Confusing right?!
A dietitian is a person with a 4 year University education in Nutrition & Dietetics. They are qualified to provide individualised, evidence-based nutrition advice after undergoing a course of study with substantial theory and practice in medical nutrition therapy. They are classified as the quality standard for nutrition advice by the Australian Government, meaning they are covered by Medicare health rebates and recognised by most private health funds.
Once again the term ‘dietitian’ is not specifically controlled, however you can trust that professionals who carry the title Accredited Practicing Dietitian (APD) have completed a minimum four year tertiary degree and must undertake many hours of continual professional development to uphold their qualification each year. See a general dietitian if you need assistance with a chronic disease, weight management or just want to improve your overall health.
A Sports Dietitian has gone on to complete further study to become experts in Sports Nutrition. They must be an Accredited Practicing Dietitian first, with a minimum of one year clinical experience, along with completion of additional study in the field of nutrition for sporting performance. Sports Dietitians are the guru’s on optimising athletic performance through food. Their services aren’t just for professional athletes, they can (and do!) assist everyday exercisers to get that little bit more out of their training. See a Sports Dietitian if you're an exerciser of any level and want to:
Develop a plan to help you reach your ideal body composition (fat loss/muscle gain)
Get specific dietary advice to get the most out of your training/exercise/sport
Maximise your recovery
Make weight prior to competition without having to starve yourself
Get sports supplement advice for the performance edge
Carbohydrate load for endurance events
Get tips on sticking to your nutrition plan with a busy lifestyle
Healthy athleat friendly recipe ideas
Plus many many more
Accredited Practicing Dietitians and Sports Dietitians are both fantastic resources and have a wealth of knowledge to assist you in reaching your goals. Our founder Taryn has completed more than 6 years of study and continues to clock numerous hours of ongoing education to maintain an Advanced Sports Dietitian status. Now you'll know why her nostrils flare a little when you call her a Nutritionist ;)