Welcome to another marvelous PTPioneer review featuring the National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Nutrition Coach (NASM-CNC)!
In the NASM nutrition coach review, I break down the NASM-CNC certification along with the following aspects:
If you have yet to complete your personal trainer certification, I highly recommend you take the quiz to find out which CPT certification is bet fit for you to obtain before taking the NASM-CNC.
With that said, when you finish my NASM CNC review, you’ll know whether this is the right nutrition certification for you.
Let’s dive in!
Quick Breakdown: NASM-CNC Certification
- Most reputable certifying organization
- Densely-packed textbook and handouts
- Excellent digital portal
- Fairly expensive
- No NCCA accreditation for this specific cert
NASM-CNC General Information
- Exam cost: $899 ($449 on sale)
- Study material cost: $400-$1000+
- Prerequisites: None
- Exam passing score: 70% or higher
- Average completion time: 4-10 weeks
NASM CNC Video Review
This video is a few years old but is still among the best NASM certified nutrition coach reviews in video form.
NASM Nutrition Certification Review (Podcast)
What is the NASM-CNC?
If you have any experience in the fitness industry you probably know that the NASM certification for personal trainers is an excellent personal training certification.
When it comes to the best nutrition coach certification, the NASM CNC certification is a top contender.
Overall, NASM offers some of the best online personal trainer certifications in the industry, so anything with the NASM brand should serve you well.
Getting a certification in nutrition on top of your NASM fitness certification is a great way to increase your personal training salary while improving your skillsets in fitness coaching.
I’m sure you all know how severe the obesity epidemic is in the United States.
It is predicted that by 2030, at least half of the United States population will be considered obese.
Really, really bad.
And all of this is happening right in front of our eyes!
Clearly, there is a need for more people pursuing a nutrition coach career.
Good fitness professionals are those who help clients achieve their desired health and fitness results.
Although most of us hate to admit it, if there’s one great tip for beginner personal trainers it is that optimal results cannot be achieved by exercise alone!
Furthermore, what personal training clients do outside of training matters much more, but it is entirely up to them.
They can go home and eat healthily, or they can go and eat junk food and drink empty calories, like soda or alcohol.
Proper nutrition plays a more significant role than exercise does regarding the results that your clients will see.
Good coaches help clients develop healthy eating habits outside of the gym.
This way, they can reach their goals and even have better workouts.
Teaching clients lifestyle changes to keep throughout their life, and potentially pass on, is definitely special!
If you are wondering how to become a certified nutrition coach, starting with the NASM CNC is a great plan.
Formerly known as the NASM Fitness Nutrition Specialist Certification (NASM-FNS), the newly-developed, and more sophisticated NASM-CNC program provides everything to help maximize your client’s success and path towards optimal health.
As a NASM nutrition coach, you can answer the questions your clients have and address the real-world nutritional problems they face.
You’ll provide clients with top-notch nutrition education and implement coaching strategies that address issues such as obesity, body composition, and lifestyle approaches to disease management.
Also, the NASM nutrition certification can be used as an additional service, which can earn you more money.
While good trainers help clients in the gym, great trainers can motivate clients both inside and outside of the gym.
While there are many other nutrition certifications for personal trainers, the NASM certified nutrition coach is among the first you should consider.
I also recommend considering getting the NASM personal training and nutrition certification if you are not already a certified personal trainer.
If you are interested in becoming a personal trainer, I would recommend finishing your CPT first before starting the NASM CNC.
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Also, becoming a health coach is a related specialty that works well with the personal trainer and nutrition certification.
NASM CNC Content Coverage: the Good and the Bad
The NASM-CNC’s primary study material for the nutrition course is the digital textbook.
This NASM nutrition book has thousands of pages, which is a lot compared to most nutrition and fitness textbooks.
But it sure contains a hefty amount of note-worthy course content, as well as helpful and visually appealing infographics, charts, pictures, tables, and diagrams.
The knowledge checks at the end of each chapter match the content covered in its respective chapter course material to a tee.
These activities, which are mostly true or false, multiple-choice, and matching, definitely help with retention!
Also, it scores you at the end, which encourages you to review and try to understand what you got wrong.
Overall, chapter 3 is very lengthy with its emphasis on scientific methods and research.
While research may help navigate around food and nutrition discussions, the main downside of this section is its insistence that this is the only nutrition data that is “correct.”
This may discourage other contradictory ideas, which may be correct, from opposing these already-existing hypotheses.
Real science isn’t afraid to contradict or question.
So I am very skeptical of this section and therefore find it very important to always question and challenge already-existing ideas in order to find what works best for you.
Moving on, I greatly appreciated this little “Food for Thought” blurb about cherry-picking.
Cherry-picking is something to always watch out for, especially when it comes to anything claiming to be “scientific,” “empirical,” or “evidence-based.”
So as a NASM-CNC, you can help clients seek out what works best for them.
From my perspective, including the section on food preferences and cultural influences on one’s diet is something they got right.
For example, these preferences or cultural influences may be helpful or a hindrance to your client’s health and fitness.
As a coach, awareness of such information makes it easier to formulate dietary plans accordingly.
I really liked the inclusion of NEAT, or non-exercise activity thermogenesis.
These are tasks or activities you can do to expend more energy without taxing yourself.
Metabolic pathways are emphasized at an appropriate length and cover each energy system in-depth.
Each macronutrient, protein, fats, and carbohydrates, is highlighted in a detailed fashion, as so:
- Its definition
- The chemical molecule
- Foods in that category
- How it’s absorbed and digested
- The role it plays in the body
The corresponding pictures and infographics make it easy to understand.
Chapter 9 on alcohol blew me away with its coverage on both the mental and physical effects of alcohol in the body and how it relates to fitness and wellness.
Once coaches educate clients on alcohol and its effects, clients may change their view on alcohol and make healthier choices, by limiting or totally nixing it.
The micronutrient chapter does an excellent job covering the minerals, water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins, along with charts of foods containing each respective vitamin.
Depending on what clients eat, coaches can help clients incorporate a healthy balance of each mineral and vitamin in their diet.
Hydration is a very informative chapter and hits the following key points in a detailed fashion:
- Shifts of water in the body
- How water is lost
- Methods to avoid hypo or hyper hydration
- Strengths and weaknesses of common hydration status markers
- Hydration myths and hot topics
- Proper hydration strategies for during and between training bouts
Water is important, but understanding it, even more so!
Though the nutrient timing section isn’t too long, it provides sufficient content to understand the rationale of eating certain foods at certain times.
However, like with most nutrition topics, this is controversial and should remain something that clients know of, but still make their own choices based on how, when, and what they eat.
Also, what works for one may not work for all.
Everybody is different.
And everyone’s body is different, too.
Although supplementation is explored briefly in the micronutrient chapter, supplementation has its own chapter.
This is common for most nutrition and fitness textbooks.
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Supplementation can help or hinder athletic performance and overall health, so I’d suggest that coaches dive into supplements and understand how they affect the body.
The chapter on behavior change psychology surrounding eating and food is definitely important not only for the coach but for clients.
It is very in-depth and reveals the following:
- The stages of change model
- Barriers to diet and exercise
- Common eating disorders.
- How to develop comprehensive client profiles (i.e. goals and motives)
- How to identify common client types used to develop customized programs
- How to describe aspects of psychology in relation to fitness and wellness
Your body is capable of ANYTHING.
But, it’s your mind that you must first convince!
The chapter on coaching communication concisely covers effective coaching methods, strategies, and ways to be your best as a coach.
I was specifically impressed by this unique “Word Choice” section in this chapter.
As coaches, communication is key, but knowing what to avoid saying and why is even more so!
Without emotional intelligence, proper communication skills, and empathy, you may potentially trigger a client, and this is definitely the wrong profession to do that in!
The motivational interviewing chapter is comprehensible and pretty similar to other nutrition and fitness textbooks.
The focus on empathy and being a good listener is one of my favorite things.
Anyone in a helping profession needs to know and apply active listening skills as well as nonjudgment.
You are here to help and guide, not to criticize and belittle.
The importance of proper goal-setting is very straightforwardly highlighted, and you can find templates and worksheets for clients to use.
I find the client assessment chapter very similar throughout all nutrition and fitness textbooks for the most part.
The next chapter on food labels contains helpful charts with common labels seen in stores, and how clients can use this knowledge to determine their food choices.
There is also helpful information on what clients with a specific diet or lifestyle can do if dining out, at a party, at grocery stores, traveling, on the go, and meal prepping.
You’ll navigate popular diets, learn about nutrition hot topics and controversies, and ways to help clients maintain weight control.
Finally, since you will now be equipped with the best strategies to formulate an effective program for your clients to thrive, you are ready to “put it all together” and go!
The NASM-CNC textbook provides you with the corresponding client handouts and worksheets.
Lastly, there are case studies you can use as practice for your nutrition coaching career.
Overall, I’ve found this textbook to be very hands-on and engaging.
But NASM, as a high-quality fitness and nutrition certification provider, always does a great job and never fails to impress.
Between you and me, the NASM CNC gives the Precision Nutrition certification a run for its money for best nutrition coaching certification – and that is saying something given the impressive reputation of the PN certification.
NASM CNC Requirements
Unlike some other nutrition certifications, such as the ISSA Nutritionist, there are no prerequisites for enrollment into the NASM-CNC program.
Like the NASM-CWC (Certified Wellness Coach), NASM-CES (Corrective Exercise Specialist), and NASM-PES (Performance Enhancement Specialist), the NASM-CNC falls under NASM specialty certifications.
So this certification, in and of itself, is not accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), but most other nutrition programs, as well as CPTs, are.
NCCA accredited programs are a gold standard in the fitness industry.
So one drawback with the NASM-CNC is that it is not an NCCA accredited nutrition certification program.
This suggests that this nutrition program may be best for already certified personal trainers, group fitness instructors, or other professionals working in a related field.
NASM CNC Study Materials: Quality and Price
In terms of nutrition certification for personal trainers, the NASM-CNC is in the mid-to-high range, coming in at $899 before any promotion specials.
This NASM nutrition certification cost is pretty average for a high-quality certification.
In the comprehensive NASM online course, you get the following:
- 1.9 NASM continuing education credits (CEUs)
- 24 in-depth chapters
- Over 40 high-quality lecture videos
- Over 200 downloadable handouts and infographics
- High-quality, user-friendly digital portal
- NASM nutrition final exam
The NASM CNC study portal is truly phenomenal and does help justify the cost of the certification.
But how long does it take to finish the NASM nutrition coach course?
Most people take as little as 4 weeks to study for and complete the exam.
Upon completion, you would immediately receive certification.
You can take this NASM certification online, meaning you can access it on all devices.
This is very convenient for most people and definitely a perk in my eyes!
But is NASM certification worth it?
If you would like to start studying for the NASM CNC today before spending any money, check out my free NASM CNC study guide and practice exam.
This free NASM nutrition study guide gives you a great look at the curriculum before dropping a hefty chunk of change on the full curriculum.
For students who want a premium third-party NASM nutrition certification study guide to speed up their NASM CNC certification and insure themselves against failing the exam, I recommend the Trainer Academy NASM CNC MVP Package.
This low-cost, high-value study guide includes flashcards, an audio guide, and an exam-pass guarantee.
With the exam pass guarantee, you do not have as much stress regarding how to pass the NASM nutrition exam because you will be reimbursed if you fail.
Of course, if you are ready to get your personal training nutrition certification, you are always free to rely on the source and purchase the full NASM CNC package directly from NASM.
NASM CNC Exam Difficulty: How hard is the NASM CNC exam?
Unlike CPT exams, which are taken in person, the NASM-CNC exam is administered online only within your student portal.
You have 90 minutes to complete 100 multiple-choice questions.
The passing score is 70% or higher, but if you fail your exam, don’t fret!
NASM CNC Continuing Education
The salary for a nutrition coach depends on your experience and ability to sell your personal training and nutrition coaching services.
Just like the NASM-CPT, and most other CPTs and nutrition certifications, renewal of the NASM-CNC is required every two years.
This is done through the completion of the CNC Renewal Exam.
The CNC Renewal Exam offers three exam attempts and will have an enrollment duration of 365 days.
This renewal exam will recertify the NASM-CNC credential for another two years from the new completion date.
And lastly, don’t forget about the small renewal fee of $49.
You should also note that the NASM CNC counts as a NASM continuing education credit towards renewing your NASM CPT.
I based my expert review of the NASM-CNC certification based on the following criteria:
- The opinions of experienced nutrition coaches
- A critical review of quality and pricing
- Typically reported information from nutrition coaches who passed the exam
- Other comparable entry-level nutrition coach certifications
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
I find the NASM-CNC to be one of the best nutrition certifications on the market.
NASM always does a great job of offering in-depth curriculum and study materials to help you absorb the information.
If you are already advising your clients about diet and nutrition, I’m sure this certification will teach you a lot of new things.
Well, here’s to thriving and helping others do the same!
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