Finding the best nutrition program is not an easy task. This is because there are numerous certifications in the market. So, we decided to come up with a guide that helps you choose the best certification. The majority of people tend to confuse between earning a nutrition credential and being a dietitian. They also confuse the learning prerequisites for the two. Another thing that brings confusion also is on who is qualified or legally allowed to offer nutrition advice.
Being a fitness expert, can you offer nutrition advice without getting sued? The general answer is, you can’t get sued. In this post, you’ll learn about the top 6 certifications and be in a position to choose the best one to help you meet your clients needs. The certification you opt for should also make some business sense to you!
So, by the time you come to the end of this post, you’ll have gained more helpful knowledge on the certifications and on what each one means to you in the long run. Let’s go straight away to the nutrition certifications and their reviews!
The 5 Best Nutrition Certifications For Fitness Professionals of 2023
- 1) NASM CNC Certified Nutrition Coach
- 2) ISSA Nutrition Certification
- 3) ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist
- 4) Precision Nutrition Certification
- 5) NESTA (National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association)
Top Nutrition Certification Programs
This is primarily meant for people in the fitness field like strength and conditioning coaches, personal trainer, corrective exercise professionals or a team of instructors. So, if you’re searching for the best fitness nutrition credentials, here are some of the best choices:
1. NASM CNC Certified Nutrition Coach
The Certified Nutrition Coach credential is the new credential introduced to the NASM family. The certification will replace the old fitness nutrition specialist(FNS) credential. There are numerous differences between these two certifications. Being an accredited nutrition coach, you’ll deliver high quality info and behavioral change strategies to your customers. You’ll use these skills to improve the possibility of a successful lifestyle change of your customer to allow them to cut weight, gain muscles or attain their fitness and health goals.
Why the NASM CNC Certification?
The NASM certification will bring many benefits that include personal and career related benefits. Here’s why you should go for this certification:
- You get top-notch information on nutrition that relates to wellness, losing fat, muscle building
- Participants will be learning a lot about the mental plateaus psychology with nutrition and diet as well as how you can go past them.
- You’ll be gaining critical skills on how you can incorporate behavioral change togetherwith nutritional based science to enable actual world clients to know the kind of results they deserve.
- From this certification course, you can also get NASM CUEs of 1.9NASM
Currently, the price of the NASM CNC certification is $899. However, the price can drop to $629 when there is a sale, like now where there’s a 30% off the original price. While this credential is more costly than others are, it offers you an exceptional exhaustive strategy toward the behavior and nutrition transformation that is useful toward your customer’s success. You can pay in installments within 4-12 months with zero interest. The duration of the program is 12 weeks.
Curriculum and Learning Materials
The NASM CNC certification is completed online via the study portal. This is one disadvantage if you like using hard copies of the textbooks. You’ll get access to an interactive e-book that comprises 24 chapters. In every chapter, you will come across infographics, interactive videos, downloadable templates, chapter quizzes, mini-quizzes and 100 practice tests.
NASM CNC Exam
The fully online exam comprises of 100 questions that are presented in multiple-choice format. You’ll have 1.5 hours to answer all the questions. You need to score more than 70% to pass the exam.
Candidates taking the exam have up to three attempts before they’re required to pay another fee for retesting. You’ll have one year to take the exam after purchasing the CNC.
The CNC NASM is considered one of the top nutrition certifications today. However, it faces a fierce competition from the other certifications we’ve included in this post.
What are the Differences Between NASM FNS and the Current NASM CNC?
There are two main differences between the new nutrition certification and the old one. The old NASM FNS was a certification that was mainly utilized to get continuing learning credit and also as a way to get important info on nutrition and diet principles. For instance, the new certification is a complete credential, where you’ll need to be recertified after two years. The prerequisite to getting recertified after two years is important in an industry that is ever-evolving with new findings on nutritional science.
The other difference is that the new certification comprises a lot of information on behavioral change and the ways to combine and implement the details with nutritional advice you give clients. Note that the FNS didn’t have these details. Transforming your customers’ daily behaviors is as essential as offering them nutritional advice. The new NASM CNC is a mix of nutrition certification in a health coach credential. Since it’s an online program, it has become one of the best fitness programs and also the leading nutrition credential.
2. ISSA Nutrition Certification
The ISSA (International Sports Science Association Nutrition) credential is one of the best certifications for fitness specialists. That’s due to the fact that it can be incorporated with a personal training credential or can stand on its own as a nutrition certification. Furthermore, they focus their training on the psychology of consuming a good diet at the proper time.
The ISSA covers the influence of nutrition in our lives and the way it can impact our wellness as well as the successes and the failures of our fitness. As a personal training coach, it offers you the required details to help you understand the role of nutrition and its effects on the human body.
There are a number of principles on nutrition that this certification covers. These principles include:
- The contribution of proper nutrition on improvement of performance, and this includes both physical and mental benefits
- How you can properly scrutinize different dietary strategies
- Making unique plans for nutrition that are specific to each of your clients
And this component of nutrition combined with a well-laid out fitness progress will be able to improve your clients’ overall results. And it’s even more advantageous since you can complete this credential online through ISSA’s study portal. In fact, if you can set aside a few hours each night, you can become nutrition certified within three months.
The ISSA Nutrition certification has been ranked as one of the top certifications for nutrition because you can also obtain it for free if you were to purchase their regular certification for personal training. In this case, if you have no plans of becoming a personal trainer, you might end up becoming one, thanks to this generous offer! And remember their Certified Personal Trainer certification costs the same as the nutrition credential. This means you won’t be losing anything at all. If anything, you’re going to get more value for your bucks!
Currently, the price of earning the ISSA nutrition credential is $499 for two fitness courses. However, the list price is $799. They also offer a one year 0% interest payment plan for this certification. They have a fantastic deal known as the Elite Trainer Certification program. This program comprises three different certifications such as nutrition certification, personal training certification and the third credential of your choice that is less costly. Furthermore, they have an excellent nutrition certification plus training certification program they offer frequently.
Note that you don’t have to become a personal trainer. You can prepare and pass nutrition cert exams and earn them as standalone credentials. You’re required to pass their trainer test if you want to become an elite personal trainer. However, what you get from the nutrition certifications will be worth the effort.
Curriculum and Study Materials
Like with all the ISSA credentials, the learning materials you’ll get when registering for this certification are extensive and impressive.
- A course study book that consists of 300 pages of details that will help you in passing the exam
- A detailed study guide book for all modules available in the curriculum for the credential for sports nutrition
- Practice questions online to assist you to gauge your understanding before sitting for the final exam
- Assistance from professional ISSA staffers who are ready to answer any questions about the credential
- Access to online forums
- Online test or pen and paper exam at an official exam center
And since ISSA gives access to qualified staff members who can answer your queries quickly and effectively, this definitely is a plus. Also, the systematic content coverage through the study guide as well as the practice quizzes offer you an opportunity to know your exam preparedness level.
The test comprises these three parts:
- Section one comprises of 230 questions in the form of multiple-choice
- Section two comprises of 120 questions in the form of multiple-choice
- Section three contains of one case study and essay
The whole exam consists of 363 questions. So, you just have to be all-ready!
3. American Council on Exercise (ACE) Fitness Nutrition Specialist
The ACE Fitness Program is a well-recognized certification in this field. The fitness inclusion in this nutrition plan makes it a perfect choice for certified personal trainers that want to advance their career. In this certification, you’ll learn the essentials of nutritional science. You’ll get to understand the strong connection between body weight and nutrition and how to transform your customer’s perspective with changing behavioral techniques.
This top nutrition certification for fitness experts focuses part of their efforts on transforming your customer’s habits as they do on the nutrition part. This is a perfect way for nutrition. You can educate your customers about nutrition, but they must put it into practice when alone. Once you buy the certification, you’ll need to study for six months and take the exam. There are no prerequisites for earning this certification.
There are two options for buying the ACE program. They include:
- The e-book only alternative that is available at $249
- The hardcopy and an e-book textbook package accessible at $299
Curriculum and Learning materials
Some of the learning materials for this certification include:
- Fitness nutritional manual
- Four-sections of video series covering fitness nutrition
- Three video series focused on integrating fitness based nutrition with clients
- Behavior change coaching book
- Behavior change coaching podcast
The curriculum as well as study resources that ACE offers are ideal for various styles of learning. You can opt for coaching behavior audio or reading materials, which come as part of the package. They also have a focus on business practice and how you can create income by offering additional nutrition services. This is helpful for those who are business-minded.
Furthermore, fitness incorporation into the nutrition program makes it a perfect choice for people that have insufficient knowledge concerning personal training. And if you prefer a fully online certification, then this program should be your best choice.
The exam comprises of 150 questions that are presented in multiple-choice format. Out of these questions, 25 are experimental-based. You’ll be required to tackle the exam within 3 hours. The scaling on marking is from 200-800 points, and you must score 500 points and above to pass the exam.
4. Precision Nutrition Certification Level 1
Precision Nutrition Certification is a credential meant for fitness specialists to utilize with their customers. It’s Dr. John Berardi’s brainchild. John, a former champion in bodybuilding, happens to be a professor. The certification targets both fitness as well as nutrition and intends to help fitness professionals and their clients to work together effectively.
You will learn various things like:
- You’ll teach your customers on how to eat better and diet without having to feel totally deprived
- You’ll teach the clients on avoiding fad diets as well as how they can ditch misguided food rules
- You’ll educate your clients on how to incorporate fitness into their lives easily without allowing it to dominate their lives
- You’ll teach your customers how to set attainable goals and uphold a healthy living even when it seems life is getting out of their control
And despite a few downsides which you’re going to learn later in this post, this certification offers top-notch content to all the participants.
The price of this Precision Nutrition certification Level 1 is based on two varying purchasing times. You’re required to pay $119 every month for 12 months. However, you can join a free presale list and pay $99 per month or a single payment $999. You’ll get a discount of 30% once you join the presale list. This is one of the costly certification. However, they offer exceptional services, excellent details and a better way to integrate these skills with current and new clients.
Remember this credential is offered only twice a year, though it sometimes opens up to three times in a year when there’s a high demand. This implies when it’s accessible only twice, one has up to 6 months to earn it. This is the downside to this certification. It would be better if interested professionals can access it all year round. But despite this, it still remains a top nutrition certification.
Curriculum and Learning Materials
Once you purchase the precision nutrition certification level 1, you’ll get:
- A three-unit study textbook
- 20 animated video lectures
- Study guide and workbook
- Extra assessment forms as well as questionnaires for clients
- Online forum
- Over 40 premium tools for coaching
This certification’s curriculum is great, especially if you think about the hardcopy textbook you access compared to when you’re required to use an e-book.
After you complete all the study resources offered, you’ll have to sit for 18-chapter tests that comprise 180 questions.
The exam comprises of 180 questions that are presented in multiple-choice. You’ll also come across a true or false question format. You’re needed to complete ten short exams that come once you finish each chapter. There are a total of 20 chapters. You must score 75% and above to pass the exam.
5. NESTA (National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association) Fitness/Sports Nutrition Coach
NESTA offers two separate certifications. One of the certifications is the Fitness Nutrition Coach Certification that is designed for the public or general personal training clients. The other certification is the Sports Nutrition Specialist that is designed for people who want to advance their performance as well as for athletes.
The certifications will teach you essential aspects with regards to ensuring your clients are fit and healthy. There’s a NESTA’s section intended to help you do assessments targeting clients. It’s also meant to lend performance enhancement practical advice to athletes.
Beside regular training, the two certifications focus on growing a professional’s personal training related business and improving their earning potential by providing nutrition advice. This certification has no prerequisites, and you will have 12 months to sit for the exam after you register.
This is also another great 100% online nutrition certification program.
Curriculum and Learning Materials
Some of the learning materials you get once you sign up for this certification include:
- An e-book type online textbook
- Several training videos
- Access to the exam
NESTA ensures you can access all the study resources you need online. Make use of their sufficient textbooks and videos to make the most out of your study time.
You can pay for the NESTA Fitness Nutrition Certification in two ways which include one payment and a 4-month payment plan. For the one payment plan, you pay $297 to get online training and certification test. Once you pay, you’ll get 100% online training, a chance to study at your pace and instance access to the course. You’ll also get a digital certificate once you pass the test.
If you want a hardcopy certificate, it can be sent via mail within 2-3 weeks. The other plan requires you to pay $81 for four months. You’ll get everything available in the one payment plan.
The Sports Nutrition Specialist credential goes for $347. You can also opt for the 4 month payment option which goes for $94 per month.
It’s also possible for you to combine the two nutrition credentials, where you make a one-off payment of $449. If you opt for this, you’re going to save $195, unlike if you were to purchase them separately.
The certification exam comprises of 100 questions that are available in a multiple-choice format. You are required to answer all the questions within 120 minutes. The pass mark for the certification exam is 70%. Note that you only have three attempts.
6. AFPA Nutrition and Wellness Certification
The AFPA Nutrition and Wellness credential helps you to learn how to use nutrition information for fitness performance, general health improvement, and weight management for your customers. Besides, the AFPA offers nutrition consultants credentials such as Senior Nutritionist Specialist and Holistic Nutritionist credentials.
These programs offer you an in-depth understanding of healthy living and nutrition. You’ll learn how to motivate your clients and change their lifestyle. And that entails how to engage effectively with your customer’s regarding nutritional ideas and educate them about the essence of behavior building.
Once you purchase this certification, you’ll have up to six months to sit for the required test. There are no prior requirements to register for the certification. Furthermore, you can opt for the online fitness nutrition credential.
Curriculum and Study Resources
The study materials for this certification are available in two ways. The first one involves a 100% digital access. This will offer you access to interactive e-books, student activities for practice, full textbook, assessments as well as nutrition assignments. The version for textbook only enables you to get the book’s hardcopy and physical assignments. However, you’ll not be able to access the online study platform.
You can also get access to digital access as well as textbooks.
The current price for getting the certif ication is $699. Note that this is the average cost for the online nutrition credential. And if you prefer the 100% online course along with textbooks and e-books, you’ll have to pay $899.
The exam format for AFPA nutrition and wellness certification differs a lot from the others. You’ll have 28 days to sit for it. You’re allowed to save your responses online and proceed later. The exam contains 280 questions.
Who Can Offer Nutrition Advice?
It’s legal to offer nutrition advice, especially when you’re knowledgeable in the field. However, you can’t prescribe a diet that is supposed to cure a disease or illness for a customer. Only the RDs (Registered Dietitians) and medical doctors can give the prescriptions. Therefore, if your client asks for advice on the ideal diet for celiac illness, for example, you’re not legally permitted to give this advice.
But, if you’re a strength and conditioning coach or a personal trainer, you can offer nutritional advice for cutting weight, eating well and healthy, or advice on macronutrients for muscle building.
All this is approved nutrition advice that can be offered by a professional who holds a nutrition credential. You can discuss about general health nutrition practices. Additionally, you can offer strategies for improving nutrition and provide necessary tools to allow them to incorporate the nutrition advice into their lifestyle.
Beside being allowed to talk about nutrition advice with their customers, fitness professionals like personal trainers are encouraged to do this work. This is because of the ever-increasing obesity epidemic that affects many people in the US and the world at large.
As a fitness specialist or personal trainer, the challenge is, the majority of them don’t feel eligible to offer nutrition advice. If you think this way, the best thing is to get an approved nutrition certification program.
The Things You Can Learn from a Nutrition Certification Program
If you an accredited fitness professional like strength and conditioning coach or personal trainer, you have already learned something about nutrition from the CPT certification. The nutrition certifications have the same topics of studies but with more detail. You’ll learn about the nutrition science basics and how to use them to your customers. You’ll learn how nutrition helps in improving sports performance, body weight and body composition. You’ll also learn about absorption, digestion, micronutrients, macronutrients and food intake.
By the time you’re through with your studies, you’ll be a knowledgeable professional in all fields. The nutrition credentials will teach you many things about how to build or change habits. You’ll learn how to incorporate nutrition into personal coaching and also the benefits you can get from providing new services.
Well, this is all about the top nutrition programs you should consider in 2023. I believe you know the difference between a certified nutritionist and dietitian. So, some of the top three nutrition certification you need to check out include NASM CNC, ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist, ISSA Nutrition Certification, and ISSA Elite Trainer Certification program. These are the top nutrition programs. Note that it’s legal to offer nutrition advice to clients and its encouraged. However, you need to make sure you don’t prescribe a diet or nutrition plan to a client trying to treat a condition.