The Difference Between Nutrition Coaches and Nutritionists
Articles / Nutrition Coaching
Nov 3, 2023

The Difference Between Nutrition Coaches and Nutritionists

By Food Matters Institute

When it comes to making positive changes to your health and lifestyle, nutrition is often a key component. However, with so many professionals offering services in this field, it can be challenging to know which professional is the right one to turn to. In this article, we’ll explore the difference between a nutritionist and a certified nutrition coach with the International Institute for Complementary Therapists (IICT).

What is a nutritionist?

A nutritionist is a professional who has studied nutrition at a tertiary level (through a traditional university or college) and has a qualification in the field. They are often registered with a governing body, such as the Nutrition Society, and may have additional qualifications in areas such as dietetics or public health. Nutritionists are trained to assess and manage nutritional problems, provide advice on healthy eating and lifestyle choices, and may also work in areas such as food product development or public health policy.

What is a nutrition coach?

 A nutrition coach is trained to help clients reach their nutrition goals for overall health and well-being. Their training is offered through an independent provider, like the Food Matters Institute, and is free from financial influence or biased research.

Their role and scope are not to diagnose or treat a condition but to become part of a larger team that advocates a holistic approach to the client’s health. They do not prescribe supplements or develop meal plans but make suggestions and referrals to appropriate practitioners and clear up any confusion in an industry based on mixed messaging.

A certified nutrition coach with IICT is someone who has completed a training program that focuses on nutrition coaching. This typically involves a combination of nutritional science, behavior change theory, and coaching skills. The IICT is a professional membership body for complementary therapists, including nutrition coaches, and provides recognition and support to members who meet their standards.

So what’s the difference?

While both a nutritionist and a certified nutrition coach with IICT may provide people with advice on healthy eating and lifestyle choices, the key difference between their roles lies in their focus. Nutritionists are trained to diagnose and treat medical conditions related to nutrition, whereas nutrition coaches are more focused on helping clients make positive behavioral changes to their diet and lifestyle.

This means that if you have a medical condition that requires specific dietary management, such as diabetes or celiac disease, it may be more appropriate to seek advice from a registered nutritionist. They will be able to provide tailored advice and support to help manage your condition.

However, if you are generally healthy but looking to make positive changes to your diet and lifestyle, a certified nutrition coach with IICT may be a good choice. They can work with you to develop personalized goals and strategies to help you make sustainable changes to your eating habits and provide ongoing support and motivation.

It is worth noting that while nutritionists are often registered with a governing body, the field of nutrition coaching is less regulated. This means that it is important to choose a certified nutrition coach with IICT who has completed a reputable training program and is committed to ongoing professional development.

Both nutrition coaches and nutritionists have so much value to offer, especially with the ever-increasing shortage of doctors and skyrocketing healthcare costs due to poor diet and lifestyle choices. Both types of professionals have their place in providing more care to those who need it, helping treat manageable health conditions such as obesity, autoimmunity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and more.


If you’re feeling inspired to earn your certification as a nutrition coach, we’d love to have you join us in the Food Matters Nutrition Certification Program - a recognized partner of the International Institute for Complementary Therapists (IICT).


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