Tyler Read doing a full ISSA Nutritionist certification review

This is a collection of my experiences with signing up, studying for, and passing the ISSA nutritionist certification.

I will go over aspects that I liked about the certification, where it fell short, and how it compares to other nutrition certifications on the market.

By the end, you will clearly know whether the certification is right for you.

If you want to make sure it is the best ISSA option for you, then make sure to take the quiz and find out what may be your best option.

What type of Certification are you looking to get?

Here is what you will learn:

  • Topical information: ISSA Nutritionist pricing, packages, prerequisites
  • The quality of the ISSA Nutritionist program and textbook
  • Pros and Cons, is this certification meant for you?
  • How the ISSA Nutritionist compares to other nutrition certifications

What is the ISSA Nutritionist Certification?

What is the ISSA Nutritionist Certification?

The ISSA, or International Sports Sciences Association, is one of the top certifying organizations, and they bring the greatest value for professionals looking to start with multiple certifications and specializations.

The ISSA was founded in 1988 by a team of fitness experts to help curb the increase in physical decline.

ISSA’s mission is to “Bring healthy living to everybody in the world through education and community.”

This mission is being sought after by increasing the amount of knowledgeable, certified fitness professionals.

This ISSA Nutritionist certification course covers the greatly varied topics of Macronutrients and Micronutrients, Lifestyle Changes and Strategies, Client Assessments and Goal Setting, Product Labels and Claims, Dietary Guidelines and Applications, Trending Diets and Myths, Supplementation, and Business of Nutrition Coaching.

Overall, these are the main topics I find useful when coaching nutrition, so ISSA certainly covers the bases.

ISSA Nutritionist General Information

  • Exam cost: $799
  • Study material cost: $66.58/month for 12 months
  • Prerequisites: High School Diploma, CPR/AED
  • Exam passing score: Scaled 550/800 – 90/125 Scored Questions
  • Exam pass rate: 70% (2020 data)
  • Average completion time: 2-6 months

ISSA Credibility and Reputation

ISSA is at the top of the industry because it garners employers’ respect and offers many fitness certifications for nearly any career choice.

Any organization that offers accredited certifications will be a credible and reputable outfit to seek certification.

ISSA offers NCCA accreditation with their major programs, which is the top level of accreditation level that certifying organizations can achieve.

ISSA offers international certification and is present in 174 countries around the globe.

In my experience working at commercial gyms and smaller studios, ISSA is one of the certifications employers prefer. 

Is the ISSA Nutritionist Worth It?

Is the ISSA Nutritionist worth it?

I can’t definitely say that the ISSA nutritionist cert is worth it for your specific career. The ISSA Nutritionist’s value will be based on factors like your personal goals, your budget for certifications, and the offerings you want to bring to your clients.

Truthfully, if your main passion is fitness coaching and you are just looking for another income stream, I don’t know that I’d recommend any nutrition cert.

However, the ISSA nutritionist could be a great choice if you want to combine nutrition and fitness.

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Let’s look at some pros and cons of the program:

Pros
  • Solid Research-backed Nutritional Science
  • Final Exam is forgiving and allows retakes
  • International NCCA-certified CPT recognition and use
  • The Elite Trainer package offers the best value in fitness
Cons
  • Insufficient behavior coaching section
  • Online textbook format feels dated
  • The standalone certification is expensive

ISSA Nutritionist vs. Other Top Nutrition Certifications

The ISSA Nutritionist’s main competitors are the NASM CNC and the Precision Nutrition Level 1.

These are some of the best options for fitness nutrition certification currently in the fitness industry and can be meant for different types of fitness professionals.

NASM is the most similar to ISSA, as they certify across many fitness modalities, while Precision Nutrition focuses solely on nutrition.

The ISSA matches these other top programs in pretty much all areas, but ISSA has a nice section on business aspects of coaching that is left out in others.

In my experience, the ability to apply practical nutrition skills in the context of a business model is one of the critical separators of successful trainers from less successful trainers. Hence, including business skills in the ISSA nutritionist is a major benefit.

Another standout feature of ISSA is the value they offer through bundles for certifications.

The ISSA Nutritionist stacks up well when put head-to-head against these other nutrition certs!

Regarding base prices for nutrition certifications, the three top choices are all priced around the same, and it will depend on what deals are currently running. Precision nutrition won’t drop below $999, which would be more expensive.

Who is the Certification Meant for?

The ISSA nutritionist will be ideal for people who want to add nutrition coaching services to their existing personal trainer business. It can also be a good option for fitness professionals needing recertification credits, letting you “double dip” on the recertification credits and the business growth.

 For me, this was the case, in addition to wanting to review an excellent product and help future professionals.

There are a few cases to highlight for people who should not do the ISSA nutritionist.

If someone already has a nutrition certification, then it is not too beneficial to go for a second one from another organization.

The ISSA nutritionist is also not very helpful for people seeking a career as a registered dietician since that licensing process is its entire career track.

Great for:
  • Anyone looking to expand their nutrition knowledge and experience
  • Certified fitness professionals that need CEU credits
  • Personal trainers and other specialized professionals who wish to expand their offerings
Not Recommended For:
  • A person who already has a competing nutrition certification
  • Someone seeking a career as a dietician

I believe the ISSA as an organization is beneficial for the vast majority of new and seasoned fitness professionals.

It is no mistake that over 475,000 people have chosen the ISSA certification to become certified personal trainers and sports nutrition coaches.

The International Sports Science Association is as credible as it is highly respected among professionals and is known to offer fantastic deals on its products.

The ISSA Elite Trainer Bundle is the feature purchase that, in my opinion, makes ISSA worth it for anyone without a CPT certification already.

As a fitness professional with multiple certifications, I appreciate this and other offerings from ISSA.

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The Elite Trainer is my favorite of the deals ISSA offers, as you will get the Certified Personal Trainer, Nutritionist, and one more specialization. That’s enough for any new fitness professional to kickstart their career in a great way.

ISSA also offers a popular ISSA Elite Buy One Get One offer that allows you to purchase this nutrition certification and the ISSA CPT. I find this to be the best deal if you desire to become a personal trainer and know you will be going for a specialization.

It is also beneficial to know that achieving these specializations with ISSA helps to cover your recertification costs when that time comes after two years, as these extra fitness courses count as continuing education credits.

Overall, ISSA is a very credible source, and they provide all of its citations for information in the text if readers wish to investigate further. On top of this point, they have a well-crafted textbook that costs less than many certifications you will find.

This makes the ISSA Nutritionist entirely worth it for most fitness professionals, myself included.

ISSA Nutritionist Costs and Course Options

The ISSA Nutrition cost. How much is the ISSA Nutritionist certification?

The first option for the ISSA nutritionist is to purchase the standalone program without any other certifications.

This has the least amount of value and comes in at a base price of $799, but there are often deals going on to get it for a good percentage off that price.

The ISSA Nutritionist course includes these items:

  • ISSA Nutritionist Textbook (Digital)
  • Practice Exams and Section Quizzes
  • Nutritionist Education Bootcamp
  • Library of Client Forms
  • Online and Home Study Exam
  • Online Student Forum
  • Free Professional Website
  • Unlimited Educational Support

I believe ISSA has a solid course offering, rivaling competing organizations and their nutrition certifications.

If you are like me and enjoy a physical textbook, then you must purchase that on the side. A physical textbook costs $60 to order from ISSA.

A picture of the ISSA Nutritionist physical textbook.

ISSA really shines when we get into the bundles they offer for multiple certifications. Since the ISSA Nutritionist only offers one program package, I’ll highlight some ways you can get the ISSA Nutritionist and maximize the value of your money.

One option that I like a lot is the Buy One Get One, which gives you two certifications for just over the price of the standalone Nutrition cert. The price for this package is $948.

The Buy One Get One ISSA Offer promo image.

And then what I consider to be the optimal choice for anyone without a CPT yet, or for someone that is a CPT but wants to switch to ISSA while earning specializations, we have the Elite Trainer option, which gives you a total of three certifications for the price of the CPT.

The Elite Trainer bundle includes the CPT, Nutritionist, and Strength and Conditioning coach certifications. These are the three most popular certifications/specializations in the fitness industry.

The Elite Trainer Bundle costs $1,188, which is close to what you will pay for a CPT cert alone from most other top organizations.

The ISSA Elite Trainer Offer promo image.

That is how the standalone certification and the popular bundles are priced and what you will find within the ISSA Nutritionist package.

Next, I’ll dive into the specific offerings of the ISSA Nutritionist so you can see how it stacks up next to the other nutrition certs in the fitness industry.

ISSA Nutrition Certification Review ([year]) 3
ISSA Nutrition Certification Review ([year]) 4

ISSA Nutritionist Course Layout

The ISSA Nutritionist course layout

The ISSA Nutritionist course is laid out in an online course, like all of the ISSA programs, and one thing that some people may notice is that the online study format feels a bit dated.

I have found that the online study format and textbook are more conveniently laid out and feel newer when I look at NASM and ACE, to name a few.

But, with that said, it does not detract from the overall knowledge you will gain from this program.

The study program has sections for the Dashboard, Guided Study, Textbooks, Quizzes, Downloads, and the Final Examination.

The overall course layout is less convenient and easy to navigate than NASM, which I would consider the other top nutrition specialization. Still, what matters most is the content within.

The online dashboard for studying the ISSA Nutritionist

Guided Study

The Guided Study is ISSA’s version of a study calendar to give you some goals to shoot for. They have a total of 10 weeks recommended to learn the materials.

For comparison, I finished the course in 8 weeks, but I have taken many fitness programs, including other nutrition certifications. I also made sure to compare and contrast other programs in the fitness industry.

The Guided study breaks down the ten weeks into the recommended reading assignments, a few lecture videos, and a quiz.

I think the reading assignment feels unnecessary, and it would feel better to follow along in the textbook in order. But it does have links to make it easy to navigate directly to the accompanying pages.

The lecture videos are extremely short but can help with some of the more intricate parts of big chapters.

And lastly, the quizzes are helpful as they help tie up the chapter and ensure you learned what was needed.

The ISSA Nutritionist Chapter 9 quiz screenshot.

Textbook and Downloads

Despite the dated feel, one advantage ISSA has over the two I just mentioned, ACE and NASM, is that they offer easy-to-use PDF textbooks that can be downloaded directly to your computer.

The textbook is a good length of about 400 pages, split into 18 chapters.

Again, I prefer to study the physical version, but it is the same as what you will get in the digital version included in the base course package.

Each chapter will have a quiz, which can be accessed from the Quizzes tab or the guided study.

The quizzes are all 10 questions each, which I find to be shorter, but it is still up to par with the quiz offerings from other nutrition certifications.

Textbook Breakdown

The ISSA Nutritionist textbook has 18 well-broken-down chapters, including a welcome business chapter not seen in many specializations.

The 18 chapters are:

  • Chapter 1: Nutrition
  • Chapter 2: Cells, Organ Systems, and Digestion
  • Chapter 3: Metabolism and Energy Balance
  • Chapter 4: Carbohydrates
  • Chapter 5: Protein
  • Chapter 6: Fats
  • Chapter 7: Vitamins
  • Chapter 8: Minerals
  • Chapter 9: Water and Hydration
  • Chapter 10: The Role of the Nutrition Coach
  • Chapter 11: Stages of Change and Motivational Interviewing
  • Chapter 12: Client Assessment and Goal Setting
  • Chapter 13: Business in Nutrition Coaching
  • Chapter 14: Dietary Guidelines
  • Chapter 15: Product and Supplement Labels and Claims
  • Chapter 16: Supplements
  • Chapter 17: Navigating Successful and Trending Diets
  • Chapter 18: Special Nutrition Scenarios

The book’s layout emphasizes that this is a tremendous additional certification for a certified personal trainer.

The beginning of the textbook starts with the science of the body in the form of the bodily systems and metabolism coverage.

Much of this is similar to the initial teachings for personal training certification. Still, there is a more specific spin on nutrition, especially in the case of the energy balance discussion.

From there, chapters 4, 5, and 6 all cover specific macronutrients, which one would be familiar with in any science class or other fitness certification, but there is a much greater amount

Tyler Read - Certified Personal Trainer with PTPioneer

Tyler Read


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20 thoughts on “ISSA Nutrition Certification Review (2024)”

  1. Hi, Tyler.
    I am learner from Tokyo outside of US.
    and would like to learn more on nutrition especially related to the sports, and would like to swift my career form IT industry to Sports Nutrition field.
    Really thanks for your valuable imformation about ISSA certificates. actually I just finished the course of ISSA Nutritionist and about to be certified. if possible, would you please recommand another certificate form ISSA for my further study?
    All the best
    Aaron.G

    Reply
    • Hey Aaron, that is great that you are interested in ISSA and located internationally, since they have a large international presence. I would recommend ISSA certifications like strength and conditioning or personal training if you don’t already have them. There are many bundles with certifications, so make sure to check that out, as well.

      Reply
  2. Hi Tyler, it seems like the Nutrition Certification from ISSA is not available anymore. They are bundling the Elite Trainer and CPT courses now with the Sports Nutrition course. Do you have any idea if the Sports Nutrition course is just as good as the Nutrition Certification

    Reply
    • They now have the nutritionist certification back in the lineup for the elite trainer certification. They also offer the option for sports Nutrition. It depends on what type of clients you are working with. Are you working with athletes or people playing sports? Or are you looking for a General Nutrition certification for all clients?

      Reply
  3. Hey, tyler, my question is there any changes in the issa nutrition certification exam questions?, the reason I’m asking is because they recently changed the CPT final exam and they made all the 200 questions multiple choice, and I’m also not sure if this will apply to the specializes certifications.
    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hey Andy, that’s a good question. I would definitely check with them to see if they are planning on making any changes to their nutrition exam in the coming months. I have not heard anything myself.

      Reply
  4. I’m really having some conflict information about the ISSA nutrition certification. there are obviously two programs. One is a sports nutrition program that is included with the PT certificate, if you want to, https://www.issaonline.com/certification/sports-nutrition-certification/
    and the other one that you can never find about unless you do a google search or it magically appears on their website, https://www.issaonline.com/certification/nutrition-certification/
    This one shares the same authors and founders of PN. the sports nutrition certificate has different book and different authors, so I don’t think they are comparable to PN program. So can you please confirm and advise? I specifically want the program that is similar to PN, but the bundle program looks totally different.

    Reply
    • If you want the program that is from the author of Precision Nutrition, you need to get the nutritionist certification. They used to offer that within the bundle but they do not do that anymore. You can purchase it from a stand-alone certification though from ISSA.

      Reply
    • What did you end up doing? I have the same question and I’m confused about differences between each one.

      Reply
  5. Hi Tyler,
    I have been reading many of your articles on best nutrition programs….they are extremely informative, thank you. For me, it’s a tie between PN and ISSA. I do not plan on becoming a personal trainer, just interested in nutritional coaching. Do either one of these programs offer you the ability to “suggest” macro ranges and how to calculate calories per potential client?? I am also asking for myself…trying to lose fat, get cut and tone up.

    Reply
    • Both of these nutrition certifications are fantastic options. Overall you will learn just as much about nutrition from either one, but if you are very interested in the business side of things I would say that Precision Nutrition has the edge.

      Reply
  6. I’ve been comparing courses for a bit and found your very informative site, thanks for this!! One thing to note about the ISSA recertification is the CEU requirements. I was ready to choose ISSA over the rest until a rep informed me of their Recertification process.

    On top of the fee to recertify and fee to retake the test, you also have to take 20 ceu credits. For example, to recertify, I was told by ISSA any one of their specific specialty certifications would count towards CEU credit hours.

    So, you can take a boot camp, youth fitness, dance course or whatever through ISSA or other organizations for CEUs to recertify.

    This was the deal breaker for me compared to the others which is just to simply retake the nutrition test through PN or NASM and a fee to renew for 2 years.

    ISSA is the same retest + renew fee AND 20 hours of ISSA specialty certifications or other courses.

    Is this something you have also seen from them? This was what was told to me today by ISSA.

    Reply
    • I will definitely need to look into this. Maybe this retest thing is something that is new. That does seem kind of absurd to have to do that every two years. Thank you for this information and I will look into it.

      Reply
  7. Tyler,
    What are the ISSA Trainer Academy Suites that you are talking about? I don’t see anything and I would like the best materials for studying and learning, but I can’t seem to find these

    Reply
  8. Hi, I have been looking into getting a nutrition certification. Thanks to your website I came across ISSA and it seems to be a really good fit for me. I do have an interest in fitness but I had never really considered being a personal trainer but their promo for getting a pt certification with a nutrition certification does interest me. I also noticed they have an elite trainer package where you can choose a specialization. There seems to be another nutrition course more geared toward sports nutrition. Would you say one cert is better than the other? Would it be worth it to take both or do you think there would be too much overlap in course material? Thanks

    Reply
    • Long,
      honestly there is not too much overlap between the buy one get one for the elite trainer package. The nutrition, personal training in whatever certification of your choice that you choose. The new personal training certification they only have one chapter on nutrition so there will not be that much overlap between that certification and their nutrition certification. I would not worry about the overlap. This is a very good deal to be honest and a lot of my students that have gone for it have not regretted it.

      Reply

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