Life On The Job: Sports Dietitian

Tania Lee, a sports dietitian tells gradmalaysia.com readers what it's like to be in her shoes!
gradmalaysia_Image_Sports Dietitian FMCG_2017
Tania Lee, RD
Sports Dietitian, Sports Nutrition Centre, National Sports Institute of Malaysia
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What does a sports dietitian do?

The main goal of a dietitian for athletes would be to help them achieve optimal performance in training and in competition through nutrition. The dietary needs are individualised and nutritional interventions are tailored specifically to every athlete eg dietary plans, rehydration strategies, macronutrient requirements, etc. This is because the metabolism of athletes varies from one to another, hence, it has to be individualised to meet their specific demands.

How do I know if being a sports dietitian is right for me?

For this job, you have to be really proactive. That is requirement number one. Of course, being physically active is a plus-point, as you will be running around quite a lot. You will need to approach people, visit training venues, travel out of state (and out of the country as well) and work odd hours.

Being flexible is also crucial. There’s a high chance of having to work odd hours to provide services to athletes. For example, there might be athletes competing in a country with a different time zone, and they might require dietary counselling or immediate advice on nutrition’.

You are also required to be quickly adaptable to the requirements of the athletes, coaches, and the support team. Plans such training schedules and travel itineraries change very quickly, and you will have to be able to also change your plans quickly to fit into theirs to provide them the best possible service.

How much can a fresh graduate sports dietitian earn?

Depending on the location and qualifications, the starting salary can range anywhere between RM2,100 to RM2,500. This applies to local and overseas graduates – the salary scale is about the same for both.

How can I work towards being an expert in the field?

Being passionate about what you do is very important. Sure, the working hours and salary are fixed, but there will be plenty of instances where you will be required to do more than what you’re supposed to do. If you’re not passionate about the job, you won’t be happy doing it, nor will you go the extra length to help the athletes.

Ask yourself: why do you want to work as a sports dietitian in the first place? You should want to go the extra mile for athletes!