Registered Dieticians vs Nutritionists vs Health Coaches


Many may confuse nutritionists with health coaches and dieticians because of their similar backgrounds, however, they are all different. By New York State law, it is legal for all to perform individualized nutrition counseling, however, there may be restrictions on medical nutrition therapy. In order to be allowed to practice medical nutrition, one must be registered as a dietician.

According to the Center for Nutrition Advocacy, registered dieticians are people who have completed the academics, exam, and supervised practice experience approved by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), a private trade association. They study anatomy, biochemistry, physiology, and microbiology like nutritionists and health coaches may do, but they complete a rigorous internship that determines their registration as a dietician. As a registered dietician, he or she is granted the credentials to prescribe and diagnose diseases to clients. He or she may be able to treat someone’s weight gain, for instance, or plan a diet to manage blood sugar.

A nutritionist is a health professional who provides expertise and guidance for help with weight loss, muscle gain, sports performance, and meal plans. Clients may want to work with a nutritionist because they are cost-effective compared to a registered dietician and some are covered by some insurance companies. Nutritionists are not secured by the law meaning anyone could claim to be a nutritionist but doing your research on their credibility i.e., what certification courses they’ve taken, how long have they been in this field, etc. could help you choose the right nutritionist for you. Choose a Nutritionist when you are struggling with things like nutritional imbalance, food allergy, weight loss, emotional imbalance, etc. because nutritionists help you find the root cause of your problems.

A health coach generally looks at what nutritionists do but from a holistic approach. When you are seeking motivation and want someone who has experience in the health and wellness field, health coaches are the best people to go to. They cost roughly the same as nutritionists and you may find them online.

Without proper nutrition, clients will struggle with weight, body composition, metabolism, overall health, and even their fitness goals. Selecting one of these 3 will help you build support to succeed but a nutritionist will be able to provide more valuable information than a health coach and at a lower rate than most registered dieticians.


“Nutritionist vs Health Coach vs Dietician.” Sharisse Dalby, 3 June 2016,

Center for Nutrition Advocacy “Empowering Professionals To Transform Health Through Nutrition.”


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