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What is the difference between a “nutrition coach” / “nutritionist” vs a “registered dietitian?”

So a few weeks back, Paige Heiden (paiges_plates), a future RDN posted this on her Instagram. I’ve seen similar posts like this before from other registered dietitians and it always leaves me wondering:

 

“Where do I fall within these categories?”

 

You see, I’m NOT a registered dietitian, but I did complete a BS degree in nutrition from Texas Woman’s University in 2016.

 

I definitely took the non-traditional route with school, because I was working full time as a personal trainer and strength & conditioning coach while taking a full course load.

 

I knew early on that real world application was way more important than a formal education. But with that said, I still wanted to get my degree.

 

So what did I do?

 

Well, I decided pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to work in a hospital or any other clinical type setting.

 

In fact, I knew that I wanted to own my own business one day.

 

Unfortunately, entrepreneurship is unheard of in the university setting. 

 

I knew I had to look elsewhere… 

 

So over the course of the next 8 years, I coached thousands of clients both in person and online in order to learn how to truly coach REAL people in REAL life. 

 

Not to mention, I also obtained several certifications, attended numerous seminars, masterminds, mentorships, etc.

 

Not only did I obtain my formal education so that I would understand the science of nutrition, I also prioritized working in the field the whole time while attending school full time throughout those 6 years.

 

Did I take longer to graduate? Yup.

 

Was it worth it for the real world experience? Absolutely.

 

You’re probably thinking, why didn’t you get your RD credential just to have it?

 

Well, I was already making six figures as a personal trainer and I wasn’t willing to walk away from that and lose all of my clients just so that I could do the 1 year unpaid internship.

 

Will I ever go back to get my RD? No, not unless it becomes a requirement…

 

So this brings me to the point of why I’m writing this article in the first place; 

 

Should you hire a nutrition coach / nutritionist or a registered dietitian?

 

Well, it depends…

 

If you are someone that needs helping treating a MEDICAL CONDITION then you will need to work with a registered dietitian.

 

Outside of that, it’s completely up to you!

 

Just because someone is a registered dietitian, DOES NOT necessarily mean that they are a better coach.

 

Trust me, I have seen plenty of really bad registered dietitians no different than I have seen plenty of really bad nutrition coaches / nutritionists.

 

The point is, there are the good and the bad in every field.

 

Good doctors vs bad doctors

 

Good lawyers vs bad lawyers

 

Good teachers vs bad teachers

 

This list could go on and on…

 

The fact of the matter is that people buy the coach, NOT the coaching.

 

What do I mean by that?

 

People invest in people that they know, like, and trust.

 

You could be the smartest person in the world with all the letters after your name, but if you’re a jerk then nobody is going to want to work with you in the first place. 

 

So when you’re looking to hire someone to help you with your nutrition, do your homework!

 

  1. Follow that person on social media for a few months and absorb their content
  2. Ask to read testimonials and talk with previous clients that have seen success 
  3. Read this article to learn more: https://www.precisionnutrition.com/can-personal-trainers-give-nutrition-advice

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