8 Best Nutrition Certifications + Online Nutrition Programs 2022
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    This is the most comprehensive review of the 8 best nutrition certs for professionals working in the fitness industry. I’ll compare them based on:

    Curriculum and Study Materials
    Certification Focus
    Earning Potential
    Cost

    At the end of this review, you’ll be able to understand which one to choose as well as understand who exactly is allowed to give nutrition advice.

    Make sure to take the quiz to get a good idea of which certification is right for you.

    Here are the Top 8 Nutrition Certifications.

    Best Nutrition Cert

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      Introduction

      If you have searched google with the goal of finding the right nutrition program for you, you probably came out more confused than you did when you went in. That is why I created this guide.

      I want to give some clarification on the different nutrition certifications that are available. In the end, I suggest checking out the NASM CNC, and the ISSA nutritionist certification (or the elite trainer deal when they are running this special), and the Precision Nutrition level 1 certification (But only under specific conditions which I will tell you about).

      In addition to talking about these nutrition certifications, I will discuss the importance of nutrition certifications combined with knowledge of fitness (general personal training certification) for the best overall results for clients.

      There is also a widespread confusion between holding a nutrition certification and being a dietitian and the schooling/requirements for both of these. In addition to this, there is widespread panic for who can give nutrition advice.

      As a fitness professional, are you allowed to give nutrition advice? Will you get sued? The overall answer is, no you will not get in trouble. I will talk more about this down below.

      Here are the best nutrition certifications currently available in 2022.

      1) International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) Nutritionist Certification

      International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) Nutrition certification

      The International Sports Sciences Association’s (ISSA) Nutritionist certification is, without a doubt, one of the best available for fitness professionals today.

      This is because of the perfect way that it can be combined with a personal training certification or as a stand-alone nutrition certification.

      issa nutritionist certification

      ISSA centers its training on the psychology of eating a good diet at the appropriate time.

      This certification covers the impact of nutrition in our lives and how it can really influence our fitness and wellness successes and failures. It gives you as a personal trainer all the necessary information you need to really understand the role of nutrition and its impact on our bodies.

      And that opens up a range of new clients like those who are overweight and looking to drop some pounds, for example.

      A full range of nutritional principles are covered by this certification including:

      • How proper nutrition improves performance, not only physically but mentally, as well
      • How to properly scrutinize various dietary strategies
      • How to make unique nutrition plans for various clients requirements
      • And many more

      And this nutritional component, when combined with a planned fitness program can improve overall results for all your clients.

      One of the advantages of this certification is that is can all be completed online through the ISSA study portal. With just a few hours a night, you can be nutrition certified in around three months.

      This is currently one of my top ranked nutrition certifications because frequently there is a deal to get their nutrition certification for free with the purchase of their regular personal training certification.

      So whether or not you want to become a certified personal trainer, you can at least have the option to become one. And, their CPT + free nutrition certification is the same price as the nutrition certification alone, so there is really nothing to lose. Definitely the best bang for your buck.

      Cost

      Currently, the value of the ISSA Nutritionist certification is $799. I frequently see this drop-down as low as $699. ISSA offers a 12months 0% interest payment plan for the certification. They also have a fantastic deal called the Elite trainer program. I’ll explain more.

      The elite trainer program includes their nutritionist certification, their personal training certification, and a third certification of your choice Much cheaper than each certification alone. If ISSA is currently running this deal, do not miss it.

      They also have a fantastic nutritionist certification + training certification deal that they run frequently. For the elite trainer program, I usually recommend to my nutrition students to choose the ISSA transformation specialist certification as their specialization, but you have the option to choose from any of the following specializations.

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      Note: you do not need to become a personal trainer if you do not want to. You can simply study for and pass the nutrition certification/s and have those as standalone certifications. Only if you want to become an elite trainer would you need to pass their trainer exam. But still, the value for both nutrition certifications is worth it.

      Curriculum and study materials

      As with all ISSA certifications, the study materials and course work you will receive when signing up for this nutritionist certification are both impressive and extensive.

      They will include:

      • A  coursebook which includes 300 pages of information that are critical to helping you pass the certification exam
      • A step-by-step study guide for each module in the sports nutrition certification curriculum
      • Access to practice quizzes online to help you test your knowledge before taking the final exam
      • Readily available help from ISSA staffers should you have any questions about the certification or the content
      • Access to a popular forum where like-minded students discuss key concepts found in the course and help answer each other’s questions
      • An online exam or a pen-and-paper test at a participating exam center

      The fact that ISSA provides access to trained staff members to quickly and efficiently answer any queries is a major plus point for me. Also, the step-by-step study guide, as well as practice quizzes, give you a good indication of how prepared you are to take the final exam.

      Exam

      The exam consists of three sections;

      • Section 1 consists of 230 multiple-choice questions
      • Section 2 consists of 120 multiple-choice questions
      • Section 3 consists of 1 essay and a case study.

      Altogether you have 363 questions so you need to brace up!

      I have created a helpful study guide for the ISSA nutritionist cert that covers every single chapter. Make sure to check it out.

      Also, trainer Academy has premium study materials for the ISSA nutritionist certification. They will cut your study time in half and provide an exam pass guarantee.

      This certification is what I called the best value nutrition certification. But only when it is combined into the buy one get one or the elite trainer package. Alone, it is just as costly as the following certifications.

      2) NASM Certified Nutrition Coach (NASM CNC)

      NASM Certified Nutrition Coach (NASM CNC)

      The NASM Certified Nutrition Coach (NASM CNC) is the newest certification to the NASM family here in 2022.

      This certification is going to be replacing their old FNS or fitness nutrition specialist certification. There are multiple differences between the two as I will be explaining in a second.

      NASM CNC Certified Nutrition Coach

      As a certified nutrition coach, you will be able to deliver quality nutrition information and behavioral change strategies to your clients.

      You will be able to use this knowledge to increase the likelihood of a successful lifestyle change of your client so that they can lose weight, gain muscle or achieve their health and fitness goal.

      Some of the things that you will get from the NASM CNC are:

      • The most cutting edge nutrition information related to wellness, building muscle and losing fat.
      • You will learn a ton about the psychology of mental plateaus with diet and nutrition and how to get past them.
      • Gain the skills on how to combine behavioral change with nutritional science so that your real-world clients can see the results that they deserve.
      • This course can also get you 1.9 NASM continuing education credit

      Cost

      Currently, the cost for the NASM CNC is $899. I have seen it drop to as low as $675 while on sale.

      Although this certification is a little bit pricier than the other ones, it provides an excellent well-rounded approach towards nutrition and behavior change that are both very helpful towards your client’s success.

      You have the freedom of installment payment; you can spread your payment from 4 to 12 months with no interest and the duration of this program is 12 weeks.

      NASM also has a nutrition certification plus personal trainer certification combination. Although it is much more costly than the combo packages from ISSA, is it still something worth considering if you were going to go with NASM.

      Curriculum and study materials

      The NASM CNC does everything online through their study portal. This is one downside if you are the type of person that loves to have a hard copy of the textbook.

      The e-book is interactive and contains 24 chapters.

      Within each chapter, you will find infographics, downloadable templates, interactive videos, mini-quizzes (knowledge checks), chapter quizzes ( with 15 questions per chapter) and a 100 question practice exam.

      The 100 questions multiple-choice exam is done online and you have three full attempts to take it before purchasing a  retest fee. You need 70% in order to pass. From the date that you purchase the CNC, you will have one full year in order to take and pass the exam.

      Currently, in 2022 this is one of the best nutrition certification options, but it has some fierce competition with the other certifications on this list. Here is a link to the NASM CNC.

      I have created a free study guide for the NASM CNC that is essential.

      Trainer Academy has premium study materials for the NASM CNC certification. They will cut your study time in half and provide an exam pass guarantee.

      Exam

      • NASM CNC exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions.
      • You will have 90minutes to answer these questions.
      • Your passing score is 70% or higher and you can only attempt this exam three times.

      Here is the official video for the NASM CNC:

      Become a Certified Nutrition Coach – Why You Need to Get Your Nutrition Certification With NASM

      Differences between the NASM FNS and new NASM CNC

      There are two primary differences between the old nutrition certification and the new one. The old NASM FNS was simply a credential that was mostly used to gain continuing education credit as well as useful information on diet and nutrition principles.

      The first difference is that the new NASM CNC is a full-fledged certification that you will need to get recertified with every two years.

      The requirement to get recertified every two years is essential in a field that is constantly changing with new discoveries on nutritional science.

      The second difference is that the NASM CNC includes a ton of information on behavioral change and how to implement and combine this information with the nutritional advice you give to clients.

      The NASM FNS did not have this information. Changing your client’s daily habits is just as important as giving them nutritional advice.

      The right approach to behavior change can be through corrective exercise or physical activity using industry knowledge.

      The new CNC is kind of a combination of a nutrition certification in a health coach certification.

      The fact that it is a completely online nutrition program makes it not only one of the best programs overall, but also one of the top online nutrition certifications.

      Something to consider if you are going to get the NASM CNC is to get it in combination with the NASM CPT.

      Check out my full review on the NASM CNC.

      3) Precision Nutrition Certification Level 1 (PN1)

      Precision Nutrition Certification Level 1 (PN1)

      The Precision Nutrition Certification Level 1 (PN1) is the brainchild of Dr. John Berardi.

      This is an exercise and sports nutrition certification designed for fitness professionals to use with their clients.

      Precision Nutrition Certification level 1

      Here are some of the things you will learn in the precision nutrition coaching level I:

      • You will teach your clients to diet and eat better without feeling totally deprived
      • You will be able to teach your clients how to avoid fad diets and ditch food rules that are misguided.
      • You’ll be able to teach your clients how to integrate fitness into their lives without completely dominating their lives.
      • Teach clients how to set achievable goals and maintain a healthy lifestyle even when life tends to get out of control.

      Overall I really like what is presented in the precision nutrition certification.  The information that they provide is definitely top-notch. There are only a couple of downsides that I will explain in a second.

      Study and become nutrition certified while at home. Online certification sales:

      Right now you can save on the on the NASM CNC certification!
      Here is the link to the NASM CNC sale

      Get the ISSA CPT and get their Nutrition Cert FREE. The CPT and Nutrtition combo will greatly increase you earnings and marketability.
      Here is the link to the ISSA CPT/Nutrition deal

      ACE nutrition certification sale

      Cost

      The cost of precision nutrition is based on two different purchasing times. The regular non-presale list is listed at $999. If you join the presale list you can get a 20% discount and have it only cost $799. Shipping for the project cost $11 so you contact that on either to the presale list or regular sale list.

      Overall definitely one of the more expensive certifications, and despite being at the cutting edge of nutritional coaching, the cost is a major deterrent and limits the value proposition in my opinion.

      You can avoid this entirely by purchasing it through ISSA who offers a great bundle deal with their Personal trainer cert. This will cost you $999 (if they are currently running the deal), the same price tag as the PN program on its own.

      This is a great deal for the Precision Nutrition certification and the ISSA personal trainer certification. But, it’s not quite as good as the Elite trainer package that comes with the ISSA nutritionist + cpt + one other cert in my opinion.

      Another drawback is the fact that precision nutrition certification only opens up two times a year (three times if they are in high demand). This means that you’re subject to a very strict enrolment window. Again, if you purchase through ISSA, there is no enrollment window which gives it way more value in my eyes.

      Purchasing the program through ISSA also allows you to enjoy access to the student support resources ISSA typically provides in addition to all the standard benefits from Precision Nutrition’s support resources.

      I believe PN would be the big winner here if they relaxed their enrollment policies. This is a legitimate online nutrition certificate, but it fails to provide good value for money unless purchased through ISSA.

      Curriculum

      With the purchase of the precision nutrition certification level 1 you will receive:

      • The three-unit textbook
      • Twenty animated video lectures
      • A workbook and study guide
      • Additional assessment forms and questionnaires for your clients
      • Online access to the study forum
      • More than forty premium coaching tools

      Overall the curriculum for the precision nutrition certification is quite good. I really like how you get a physical textbook as opposed to an e-book.

      At the end of completing all of the study materials provided, you will need to pass the 18 chapter exams that each contain 10 questions each. So essentially, the final exam is 180 questions.

      Exam

      • 180 multiple-choice and true or false questions
      • You are required to do 10 short exams which comes after you complete each chapter. You have 20 chapters.
      • You are to score at least a minimum of 75%

      Precision Nutrition is one of the best certifications out there. The price to value is not the best, but it’s made a lot better through ISSA.

      Here is the official video for Precision nutrition:

      Learn the Science of Nutrition Coaching with Precision Nutrition

      4) Fitness Mentors Fitness Nutrition Specialist (FNS)

      Fitness Mentors Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS)

      Fitness Mentors have established themselves as one of the most authoritative resource bases for fitness professionals seeking to start or maximize their careers.

      Let’s check out what this nutrition certification is all about.

      In their mission to provide top quality resources, they’ve compiled and created their own in-house certifications aimed at equipping trainers, coaches, and instructors with a cutting edge toolkit of results-driven, evidence-based knowledge to cater to the market.

      It is well understood that without the complement of sound nutritional protocols, any efforts regarding fitness or exercise won’t yield satisfactory results.

      That’s why Fitness Mentors have taken strides to provide a comprehensive, accessible, and affordable option for trainers who want to bolster their repertoire with the necessary array of coaching skills.

      Cost

      In most cases, a nutrition cert is much more affordable than your standard personal trainer cert.

      In fact, it is often the case that nutrition certs come bundled with a personal trainer or any other exercise-based certification.

      When it comes to FM, the standard cost for their Nutrition Specialist cert is $399.00.

      Unlike most other certifications, the FM Certified Nutrition Specialist comes in a single package option. 

      Other certs will typically present you with numerous package options, priced according to the study materials and support resources included.

      having said that, while the nutrition cert doesn’t offer much variety, it comes bundled with many of FM’s other certs meaning you save big while signing up for multiple DEAC accredited qualifications.

      Speaking of materials and resources, let’s take a look at what FM has on offer in its package.

      Curriculum

      The course curriculum of the FM Certified Nutrition Specialist is comprised of 10 chapters. These chapters are as follows:

      1. Scope of Practice 
      2. The Digestive System  
      3. Metabolism 
      4. Carbohydrates
      5. Lipids 
      6. Protein 
      7. Micronutrients and Water 
      8. Nutrition Assessment  
      9. Nutrition Coaching  
      10. Exercise and Sports Nutrition 

      This is what you’ll get in the course textbook, and this is what you’ll be assessed on in the final exam.

      In order to ace that exam, FM has compiled and provided some handy study materials, which include:

      • Digital Textbook
      • Access to Instructor & Personal Fitness Mentor
      • Audio Book Lectures 
      • Business Growing Study Group
      • Chapter Quizzes
      • Lecture Video Presentations
      • Premade Nutrition and Meal Templates

      I quite like the arrangement of this study suite. It shows an attention to detail and necessity by fitness professionals on the frontlines of career growth.

      Exam

      The FM FNS is a 60 question exam with a passing grade of 70% or higher.

      The exam can be taken at home, and you’ll have two attempts to pass.

      5) NCSF Sports Nutrition Specialist (SNS)

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      The Sport Nutrition Specialist Certification (SNS) from NCSF gives you the knowledge and skill needed to excel in the fitness industry.

      You’ll learn to use proven nutritional strategies to help your clients achieve their fitness goals.

      This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is NCSF-SNS.jpg

      NCSF prides itself on being an advocate for public health awareness.

      In fact, one of their biggest missions is towards pushing legislation for health and fitness practitioner to be recognized as part of the medical field.

      The NCSF Sports Nutrition program carries this message through by delivering a comprehensive course relevant to high performance and general populations alike.

      One of the key issues with effective nutrition coaching is behavioral change.

      Unlike exercise, where simply programming a workout and instructing it are enough to get someone moving, nutrition requires a huge personal mental shift in order for effective results to take place.

      That’s, why you’ll find the NCSF Sports Nutrition program, is centered on behavioral change.

      Cost

      The cost for nutrition certs is generally lower than what you’d pay for a CPT cert or any other specialization.

      Another common feature is having multiple packages to choose from which vary in price depending on the study content included.

      The NCSF Sports Nutrition cert is available in three packages.

      This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Sport-Nutrition.jpg

      These are:

      • Exam Only
      • Home Study
      • Home Study +

      The Exam Only package, as the name suggests, only allows you access to the exam, with none of the recommended study content.

      This one normally goes for $299

      After that, the Home Study package goes for $349 and includes most of the essential materials for exam prep.

      Lastly, there’s the Home Study + which costs $369.

      This package has everything included.

      The NCSF Nutrition packages are a great deal price-wise, but even better is the fact that they periodically have discounts and promo deals which slash the price even further. 

      Make sure to take advantage of these when they do occur.

      NCSF also has a good package that combines the SNS with their personal trainer certification (CPT).

      Curriculum and study materials

      The NCSF curriculum is based on the course text, Sport Nutrition Textbook 2nd Edition.

      The book is described as a guide to nutrition for fitness competitors, but looking through it, one can tell it’s very applicable to a general health and fitness market.

      It is comprised of four units which break down as follows:

      • Unit 1 Macronutrients
      • Unit 2 – Micronutrients
      • Unit 3 – Dietary Supplements and Ergogenic Aids
      • Unit 4 – Nutritional Analysis and Weight Management

      The textbook is what you’ll be assessed on in the exam, which brings us to the actual study packages.

      The first one is the Exam only package, and as you would expect, you’re only getting the exam.

      I don’t recommend this package since, as stated, you will be tested based on the textbook content.

      Let’s take a look at how the other two packages break down.

      Home Study

      • Sport Nutrition Textbook 2nd Edition (Digital)
      • Sport Nutrition Textbook 2nd Edition
      • Instructional Videos
      • E-Learning Access
      • Lesson Notes
      • Practical Activities
      • Review Quizzes
      • Instructor Support

      Home Study +

      • Sport Nutrition Textbook 2nd Edition (Digital)
      • Sport Nutrition Textbook 2nd Edition
      • Instructional Videos
      • E-Learning Access
      • Lesson Notes
      • Practical Activities
      • Review Quizzes
      • Instructor Support

      As you can see, not much separates the two packages in terms of content.

      The only difference being the inclusion of a hardcopy textbook with the Home Study + option.

      When considering the price difference between the two packages, and the price of the stand-alone hard-copy, it’s much more sensible to get the Home Study + package. 

      So instead of paying $109 for a textbook, you get it for $20.

      Exam

      The exam is a 150 question multiple choice paper that runs for 3 hours.

      You’ll need to score at least 70% to pass and get certified, failure of which will result in you need to wait 30 days and pay $99 for a retake.

      6) American Council on Exercise Fitness Nutrition Specialist (FNS)

      American Council on Exercise (ACE) Fitness Nutrition Specialist

      The American Council on Exercise (ACE) Fitness Nutrition Specialist is an incredibly well recognized certifying agency in the health and fitness industry.

      For that reason, it’s no wonder why their fitness nutrition specialist certification makes the number two spot on my list.

      The ACE (American Council on exercise) Fitness Nutrition Specialist (FNS)

      The fitness integration of this nutrition program makes it an excellent choice for certified personal trainers that are willing to take their career forward.

      In this ACE fitness nutrition certification, you will learn all of the essentials of nutritional science. You will learn the strong correlation between nutrition and body weight and how to change your client’s perspective with evolving behavioral tactics.

      The ACE nutrition certification focuses half of their efforts on changing your client’s behaviors as they do on the nutrition aspect.

      This is an excellent approach to nutrition overall. You can teach your clients all day long about food, but if they don’t put it into practice when they are alone, it was useless.

      After purchasing the ACE certification, you will have six months to study for and take the test. There are no requirements for the ACE nutrition certification.

      Cost

      There are two separate options for purchasing the ACE fitness nutrition specialist program.

      The first is the e-book only option which costs $249

      The next option is the hardcopy plus e-book textbook for $299.

      Check out the current price for the ACE nutrition certification here.

      When I personally purchased the ACE nutrition certification, I got the hard copy. But I just love the feel and smell of real paper.

      Curriculum

      • The fitness nutrition manual
      • A four-part video series on fitness nutrition
      • A three-part video series on how to integrate fitness nutrition with your existing clients
      • Coaching behavior change book
      • Coaching behavior change podcast

      The curriculum and study materials that ACE provides are excellent for different styles of learning. I got great use out of the coaching behavior audio as well as reading materials.

      They also have a strong emphasis on business practices and how you can make more money with the addition of this nutrition service. This is very beneficial especially for those of you who are strong business minded.

      In addition to that, fitness integration into this nutrition program makes it an excellent choice for individuals that have little knowledge about personal training.

      This is a decent option for an online nutrition certification program.

      Exam

      The test consists of 150 multiple-choice questions where 25 of those questions are experimental questions.

      • You have up to 3 hours to answer all the questions.
      • The marking is scaled from 200 to 800 points.
      • You must get at least 500points upward to pass the test.

      Here is a link to the ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist.

      Fitness Nutrition Specialist Program

      7) National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA) Fitness/Sports Nutrition Coach

      National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA) Fitness/Sports Nutrition Coach

      The National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association (NESTA) Fitness/Sports Nutrition Coach is a great nutrition certification for fitness pros.

      There are two different nutrition certifications offered by NESTA.

      The NESTA (National Exercise and Sports Trainers Association) Fitness/Sports Nutrition Coach

      The first is their fitness nutrition coach certification which is meant for the general public or general clients of personal training.

      The second is their sports nutrition specialist certification which is intended only for athletes or those looking to boost their athletic performance.

      Overall these are some of the more basic fitness/sports nutrition certification options out there. They will teach you some of the essentials in regards to making your clients healthier and more fit.

      NESTA has a decent section on doing nutritional assessments for clients and lending practical advice for performance enhancement for athletes.

      Study and become nutrition certified while at home. Online certification sales:

      Right now you can save on the on the NASM CNC certification!
      Here is the link to the NASM CNC sale

      Get the ISSA CPT and get their Nutrition Cert FREE. The CPT and Nutrtition combo will greatly increase you earnings and marketability.
      Here is the link to the ISSA CPT/Nutrition deal

      ACE nutrition certification sale

      Both of these NESTA certifications also have a strong emphasis on building your personal training business and increasing your earning potential by offering nutrition advice in addition to your regular training.

      There are no prerequisites for this nutrition certification, and you will be given 12 months to take the test after you sign up.

      This is yet another all online fitness nutrition certification.

      Curriculum and study materials

      • Online textbook in e-book format
      • Multiple training videos
      • Access to the test

      Overall, the study materials did not blow my mind. They do however have everything available to you online and are very easy to access and study. Videos and the textbook are sufficient but are not optimal.

      Cost

      The cost of the NESTA fitness nutrition coach certification is $297.

      The cost for the NESTA sports nutrition specialist certification is $347

      They also have the option to purchase and study for both nutrition certifications for only $449. This will save you $195 compared to buying both separately. This is a very reasonably priced online nutrition course.

      Exam

      The NASM Sports Nutrition Specialist tests consist of 100 multiple-choice questions.

      • All 100 questions to be answered within 2hours.
      • You are required to score a minimum of 70% or higher
      • You have just three attempts.

      Check out NESTA here.

      8) American Fitness Professionals Association (AFPA) Nutrition and Wellness Certification

      The AFPA Nutrition and Wellness Certification

      The AFPA Nutrition and Wellness consultant certification teaches you mostly how to apply nutrition information for weight management, fitness performance and overall health enhancement of your clients,

      AFPA also offers Nutrition consultants certifications like Holistic Nutritionist certification and senior nutritionist specialist. These nutrition programs gives you more in-depth knowledge about nutrition and healthy living.

      You will learn how to be motivational and be able to change the lifestyle habits of your clients. This involves how to communicate effectively with your client’s nutritional concepts and teach them the importance of habit building.

      After purchasing the nutrition certification, you will have six months to take the test. There are no prerequisites to sign up for the AFPA. This is another 100% online fitness nutrition certification.

      Curriculum and study materials

      There are two separate ways you can receive study materials. The first is the 100% digital access. This gives you access to the interactive e-books, full textbook, student practice activities, assessments and nutrition assignments.

      The textbook only version allows you to have a physical copy of the book, physical assignments but without the online learning platform.

      Both digital access and textbooks are available as well.

      Cost

      The current cost for the AFPA nutrition and wellness consultant certification is $599. This is an average price for an online nutrition certificate.

      AFPA Nutrition and Wellness certification Exam

      • AFPA Nutrition and wellness certification exam format is a lot different from the others.
      • You will be given 28days to do the tests.
      • You can save your answers online and continue later.
      • You have 280 questions altogether.

      You can see the AFPA here. 

      Who’s allowed to give nutrition advice?

      nutrition advice

      You wanna know if you are qualified to give nutrition advice?

      Read on to find out!

      The short answer is, it’s legal to give nutrition advice!

      This is especially true if you have some knowledge on the topic (i.e., a certification).

      What you are not allowed to do is prescribed a diet that is meant to treat an illness or disease for a client. Prescriptions are intended for registered dietitians (an RD) or medical doctors (MD).

      So if a client comes up to you and asks for advice on the best diet for their celiac disease, you’re not legally allowed to advise on this.

      On the other hand, if you are a personal trainer or strength and conditioning coach, for example, you can give nutritional advice for losing weight, eating balanced/healthy or advice on macronutrients for building muscle.

      All of these are acceptable nutrition advice that can come from someone holding a nutrition certification.

      You are allowed to talk about overall healthy nutrition practices, provide strategies to improve nutrition and offer tools so that they can incorporate this nutrition advice into their lives.

      Not only are fitness professionals in personal trainers allowed to discuss nutrition advice with their clients, but they are also absolutely encouraged to do so.

      This is due to the hugely increasing obesity epidemic that we are suffering in the United States (and in the world in general).

      As personal trainers or fitness professionals, the only problem is, lots of them don’t feel qualified to give this nutrition advice. If this is how you currently think, the logical next step for you is to obtain an accredited nutrition certification program.

      What you will learn from a nutrition certification

      What you will learn

      Did you know there are benefits attached to possessing a nutrition certification?

      Check below for more info!

      Healthy Nutrition Practices

      If you are a certified fitness professional such as a personal trainer or strength and conditioning coach, you probably learned a little bit about nutrition from your general CPT certification.

      These nutrition certifications go into a lot of the same topics of study but anyway more detail. You will learn all of the nutrition science fundamentals and how to apply them to your clients.

      You will go into how nutrition plays a role in sports performance, body composition and body weight. You will learn all about digestion, absorption, food intake, micronutrients, and macronutrients.

      By the end, you will be a full-blown expert in all of these areas.

      These nutrition certifications will also teach you a lot about habit building and habit changing, how to integrate nutrition into personal training/coaching as well as the business benefits you can receive from offering these new services.

      Do not forget that health and safety are science-based and a top priority in fitness training, which must align with best practices.

      Speaking of studying for a nutrition certification, Here at PTPioneer, we are currently working on free study guides for the majority of personal training in nutrition certifications. Currently, we have finished the free NASM FNS study guide, and are working hard to complete the study guides for all of the other major certifications. Stay tuned!

      And finally, dun dun dun, here are some excellent accredited nutrition certification programs!

      Conclusion on Online Nutrition Certifications

      Conclusion on Online Nutrition Certifications

      I am sure you’ve now been well-informed about the top nutrition certifications, and can now pick your choice depending on your niche.

      If your answer is yes; then I’m done here. If no, hit the comment section to tell me more.

      Well, there you have it ladies and gentlemen, my article on the top nutrition programs. I hope you guys walked away knowing the difference between a dietitian and a certified nutritionist. For now, I suggest that you check out my top three nutrition certifications below.

      If you have not done so yet, Take the quiz to get a better overall idea of which nutrition certification is the best match for you. Make sure to utilize my free NASM CNC study guide or ISSA Nutrition study guide if you choose either of those.

      Overall my top three accredited nutrition certification programs are:

      These 4 are the 4 best online nutrition programs.

      Make sure to check out Training academy for excellent nutrition certification study materials and exam pass guarantees.

      You will come away from either one of these three online nutrition courses with a great new toolset of knowledge! 🤓

      Best Online Nutrition Programs

      Remember, it’s not illegal to give clients nutrition advice! In fact, it is wholly encouraged! As long as you are not “prescribing” a nutrition or diet plan toward somebody attempting to fix a disease that they have.

      As trainers and coaches, we are responsible for helping our clients maintain a healthy lifestyle and weight. If we keep our mouths shut, we are accomplices to this epidemic.

      Getting the right health care for chronic disease outside the comfort of your home is very helpful in the long run.

      This is why it is essential to have knowledge of a certified nutrition specialist.

      Let me know what you guys thought of my top six nutrition certifications.

      Have you guys tried out any of the certifications? What were your experiences with them? Make sure to leave me a comment down below the FAQ section!

      Online nutrition certification FAQ

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      294 thoughts on “8 Best Nutrition Certifications For Fitness Professionals in 2022”

      1. Hi
        Great Info

        Ok…my confusion
        So if one gets a PT Certification from NASM or ACE

        Then can one go and get Fitness and Sports Nutritionist certification from the other

        Example:
        PT Certification from ACE, then an certification NASM FNS ?

        Is their any benefit from keeping both certifications from the same program?
        Cost?
        Go w one in program bundle, cheaper ?
        one accreditation better than the other?

        Are The others like NESTA and ISSA
        “ interchangeable “ as well

        Sorry for the long post
        Hope this makes sense

        *So overall, what would be your path or program recommendation for one that would like to be PT trainer and a Fitness and sports nutritionist*

        A general cost vs value
        If possible 🙂

        I’m winded now
        Lol

        Thank You!

        1. Hey Troy,

          Great questions for sure. In general, if you want to get an advanced certification you only need a general cpt cert under your belt. That means any accredited cpt cert would do. Do you have a nutrition cert in mind? If someone wants to get a specific advanced cert from a provider I usually recommend getting the general cert from the same provider. For example, If you want to get the PES or CES from NASM I recommend getting the general cpt from NASM cause they all use the OPT training model for building programs. I know that the fitness nutrition cert is a lot different than the general cpts though. In terms of cost-benefit I Dont think it really matters. Simply whichever one is the cheapest at the time. Did I answer your question fully? haha if not, keep on asking 🙂

          1. Hi Tyler!

            I am first off wondering the point of you having ACE, NASM and CSCS cpt certs. I have ACE atm but it’s looked down on in the community I’m in so once my two years is over I may switch to ACSM/NASM/etc
            Secondly, how much does each place charge once the nutrition certification ends to be certified again ?

            Thanks so much

            1. Hello Cynthia,
              I do not know why the American Council on exercise is left poorly upon. It is a highly recognized certification and is sometimes preferred by certain gymnasiums. After the two years, the majority of these organizations require a nominal recertification fee of approximately $100. Which nutrition certification are you going to go in at the end?

              1. Hello!
                Which online courses from your list are also certified for EU standards? I live in Slovenia and our online courses are just disappointing and pricey… Thanks!

              2. This is something you will definitely need to check with each of these certifying organizations about. This is a very specific question and changes from country to Country. Good luck with your nutrition coaching career.

      2. What are your thoughts on other “ Functional Medicine “ programs out there?

        Yes, Thank You Tyler!
        Great blog, by far, one of the best in this field and topics
        PS
        I sent you over an email as well

        Thanks again

        1. Hey Troy,

          Thanks for the shout out for the blog I am glad you are getting some good use out of it. To be honest I do not know too much about functional medicine certs sorry I cannot help more on that topic. Best of luck in your search!

      3. Hi Tyler. I’m a follower of your posts. Iam very interested in doing a cert on nutrition. Iam not a CPT certified. So cannot take ACE as as a prequesite to be called specialist by then one needs NCCA accredited cert beforehand. So m torn between NASM or NESTA ( more economical). So can u give me n idea in terms of learning about nutrition and helping clients how different is one from the other. How much would I benefit form NESTA? Thanks !

        1. Hey Samrat,

          Honestly I believe that the NASM is the better of the two certifications. Not just in terms of the curriculum but also in the way that NASM structures all of their certifications as well as the reputation that they have within the industry. When it comes to the nuts and bolts of the information though, most of the nutrition certifications are similar. I just like the layout of NASM.

      4. Great read, thank you!! I’m trying to decide between NASM and ISSA. My fiance is a personal trainer, mainly with male athletes as he’s a football player. I have had many requests from teammates as well as females I work with to help design meal plans and macro #’s as well as the best supplements to take. I read and a lot and know what works for me, but have decided to aid in the business and get certified. I like both courses for the nutrition but see ISSA assists in supplementing as well. Is there one program you like better or recommend?

        1. Hey Sara,
          I think that both certifications are packed with helpful information and that you would get great use out of both ISSA and NASM nutrition certifications. That being said, in the personal training industry NASM is a little bit more recognized. For example if you are a personal trainer as well as trying to offer nutrition advice, potential employers might recognize the NASM brand name slightly more. If this is not make any difference to you, I think both are very close to one another in terms of the information you’ll gain and the quality of their study materials they provide.

      5. Hi! I love your posts! they are really helpful.
        have you ever heard of The Precision Nutrition Certification? i’ve heard so many good reviews and i wonder why you did not mention it in your post. how is it compare to NASM??

        thanks again!

        1. Hello,
          Yes, I indeed have heard of the precision nutrition certification. It does have good reviews and I am in the process of doing a full review on it as we speak. I will be adding it to this list in the coming week or so and I will also have a full review on it that will go a much more in-depth talking about the features. I am also doing this for the new NASM CNC certification as well that just came out a few weeks ago. Make sure to stay tuned and thanks for stopping by to drop off a comment!

          1. Hello Tyler,

            I have been a massage therapist for 10 years. I’ve always been fascinated with the body. I’d love to learn everything I can without going through a formal college education. Back when I was 17 I studied and took the test for NASM CPT self taught. I didn’t pass at the time, but with all the information I know now I’d like to study and give it another shot. I have two questions.

            One. How much has the information changed for the NASM CPT since 2007. I would assume enough to where I’d have to reorder course material?

            Two. I’m looking into both training and nutrition more from the position of curiosity. I have done a lot of research on both topics. I’d like to formally learn the information to better educate my clients and apply to myself. With this in mind. Would a cheaper nutrition cert like ACE be good for this?

            Thanks in advance for any incite on this.

            1. Hello Joe,
              To answer your first question, the curriculum has changed since 2007. Approximately every 3 to 4 years NASM will change their primary textbook to be the most up-to-date with the physical education information that they are teaching their students. That being said, I do recommend you reorder the new study materials as you don’t want outdated information. To answer your second question, although aces slightly cheaper, it seems like you have already done a good amount of studying for NASM. I also think that the NASM CNC (their new nutrition coach certification) is superior to the nutrition certification from ACE. So if you wish to combine the nutrition certification with a personal training certification, this would be the route I recommend for you. Good luck with all the studying!

              1. Hi Tyler,

                I just wanted to thank for such a helpful blog. Very genuine information and you are very very helpful.

                Thanks & regards
                Jay Lagashu

      6. Hi –
        I don’t have any formal training in the nutrition or sports field. My background is a BA in Psych and I’ve worked in the HR field most of my career. I have spent the last 2 years training in the gym and eating mostly ‘clean.’ I have learned what my body responds to solely on my own. I’m proud to say I have lost 40 pounds and I’m in the best shape of my life. Would a nutrition certification be of any benefit to someone like me? Could I use it to teach others or do I have to have the personal training background?
        Thanks

        1. First of all, I would like to congratulate you on losing 40 pounds! That is an incredible feat and I’m so glad that you are in the best shape of your life. Absolutely, a nutrition certification can benefit anybody. Even if you do not end up charging for your nutrition services, the knowledge that you will gain from these certifications will help tremendously in your own pursuit of health and fitness. You can absolutely use these principles to help others with their nutrition even if you do not have a background in fitness or are a personal trainer. I hope this helps!

      7. Hi
        From what I reaf about NASM, it doesn’t actually help with detailed meal planning for customers. But it provides more infor about food science. Am I right ?

            1. Hey Kyle, I know! Looks like a fantastic nutrition coach certification. I wonder if they will be phasing out the FNS now. I will be updating this article as soon as I get some more information under my belt on the new NASM CNC!

              1. Hey Domonique,
                I am in the middle of doing a full review of the new NASM CNC certification. I will update this article as soon as it is done as I know that they are phasing out the FNS. I will have a full review coming out soon as well as update all of my old articles so it better portrays the nutrition certification offered from NASM. Stay tuned!

              2. I wanna know about the Nasm CNC program also. I cant decide between the PN level 1 cert ,and the CNC program by Nasm. Thanks!!!!

              3. The CNC is a fantastic certification that kind of blends all of the good aspects of in nutrition certification with certain characteristics of a health coach certification such as behavioral change strategies. I believe this combination is fantastic together because what good is a good nutrition plan if you can’t get your clients to change their behavior and follow a diet? I also like the precision nutrition certification as well but they only offer it twice a year which for me makes it difficult to recommend over NASM.

          1. Hi Tyler,
            I have a person on training certificate with ISSA and would like to get Nutrition certification.
            Do I have to go with Issa since I have my personal trainer certification ? I do need my CU credits and they said that geting The nutritionist certification would satisfy my see you And give me an elite status?
            Your input would be greatly appreciated thank you so much

            1. Hey Rob,
              you definitely do not need to stick with the same organization. You can go outside of the international sports Sciences Association and go with the National Academy of sports medicine if you would like for your nutrition certification. Good luck with your nutrition coaching and personal training career.

      8. Hi Tyler, Thank you for all the help with all the diveristy of certifications. 1. I am a register medical assistant in FL do I qualified to be certified with any of your favorite 3 or I need prerequisite? Thanks! 2. Do I have to be a CPT or become one with any of them? Thanks!

        1. Hey Noemi,

          Yes you are qualified for any of these nutrition certifications. You do not need a general personal training certification. Good luck with all the studying and let me know if you have any other questions.

      9. Hi, I am more interested in nutrition certificate, I found that ISSA and NASM are more on fitness training. What course should I take for the certified nutritionist? Is AFTA suitable for me to study? Would really appreciate if I could get your reply.

        1. Hello Charolette,
          Becoming a nutritionist is a different topic. This requires a bachelors degree in a related area, close to a thousand hours of internship time, and passing a very different test in order to become one. These certifications are mostly meant for people in the fitness industry. I hope this helps

      10. Tyler,
        I am a registered nurse and would like to add an certified nutrition certificate. What course exactly do I need to take? It’s a little confusing out here with so much information. I’d like to start as soon as possible and am reading on my own to help me as I go through the course. Thanks for any information you can provide!!

        1. Hey Jan, it depends on whether you are trying to become a registered dietitian, nutritionist or simply get a nutrition certification. Nutrition certifications are mostly for people in the health and fitness industry that work with clients and would like to add additional value. It depends on what you are looking for in the certification.

          1. Hi Tyler, reading your reviews on nutrition certification, I am not the fittest person, but active on my workouts, and haven’t gained much because of lack of nutrition Knowledge. As one main reason is this, secondly , i am looking at making a career in nutrition – but i have no CPT or medical studies background. Please share your suggestion on what best can I take up to fulfill my criteria. Thank you

            1. If personal training is something that you would like to do a long side nutrition, I would check out the international sports Sciences Association as they offer a pretty good deal to get both at a reasonable price.

      11. hi. I don’t want to be a personal trainer, but I’m very interested in learning more about nutrition along with how that effects the clients performance in the gym. would a fitness nutrition certificate still be a good option to me?

        1. Hello Clarissa,
          Yes absolutely. You will learn about how different macronutrients affect physical performance. Good luck with all of your studying and I’m sure you will not be disappointed with the information you learn from any of these nutrition certifications on the list. I hope this helped.

      12. Hi,
        I am from India who is obsessed with fitness for a good six years. I have come to believe that nutrition plays the most important role in fitness. I want to be certified and help individuals from the knowledge gained. So I have narrowed down NASM, ISSA and Precision nutrition certification as the three possible courses. The idea is to be able to do online nutrition coaching. What is your recommendation? TIA

        1. Well in terms of doing online nutrition coaching, I would think all three would serve the same purpose. From my knowledge, neither of them have a specialty section that focuses on online nutrition. Are you a certified personal trainer as of right now? I think that ISSA is a popular choice for people outside of the United States because all of their certifications are in an online environment. I hope this helps a little bit

          1. Hi reading Ram s message and your reply, I am also from India and just the same question asked by Ram s, I was narrowing on NASM untill i get a reply from you, hopefully soon. Also if i find success with a nutrition certification , I would certainly like to take up CPT soon after. Please reply. Thank you

        2. Hi Ram did you finalize a route , I live in Singapore and my 3 choices are similar.
          Would be good to know what decision you took.

            1. The precision and certification level I is a great certification. The biggest problem I have with it is that they only have openings twice a year. The ISSA nutritionist certification, on the other hand, uses basically the same study materials, is open for registration year round and you can get there grade A personal training certification in combination with their nutrition certification for only $799 usually. But if you have your mind set on precision new, this is a fantastic choice as well. Another great option is the NASM CNC

      13. Angela Humphrey

        Hello, I earned a BS in Nutrition 1981 (during the dark ages ☺️) fell victim to crime, dropped out of a graduate medical dietetics internship & became discouraged that I’d ever become certified/licensed to practice functional nutrition promoting health/wellness unless I could afford today’s inflated tuition to repeat all my chemistry courses before formally updating my nutrition knowledge though I have continued following up on my own. What would you recommend for my path into a second act (7 years ago retired on disability w/PTSD) career in the field ?? THANK YOU !

        1. Hello Angela,
          What were you going for back in 1981? Were you trying to become a dietitian or nutritionist? That’s what it sounds like with all the schooling you were trying to do. These are nutrition certifications for health and fitness professionals. These are great for people in the health coaching industry, personal training industry or sports performance industry. These do not replace the schooling you will receive to become a dietitian or nutritionist just to be clear with you. That being said, they are all fantastic options depending on the price point as well as the people you would like to work with. I hope it helps you answer some of the questions.

          1. Hi you said you recommend transformation specialist as an added course with ISSA apart for CPT and nutrition, any reason why? Your explanation will help me decide. Thanks

            1. The transformation specialist is a good certification that’s pretty new. A kind of goes over somebody building Concepts basically how to train for Aesthetics. If this is something that interests you, go for it.

        1. I give a lot of great information on my site for free. I ask for email addresses in order to provide you up-to-date information on certifications in the health and fitness industry. But you do not need to give me your email address in order to find out which nutrition certification is right for you. By reading the entire article, you will be able to determine on your own which certification is right for your needs. Good luck with all the studying.

      14. Hi Tyler! Great page you have here, helping me narrowing down the options. But I’m not I’m looking for another “carbs are fuel and protein are buildingblocks” approach (not saying anyone of these courses are). Wgat I’m looking for is more; why carbs gives you the greatest pump one day, and bloats you up and you feel fat the next. How can you build up your metabolism to eat 5000kcal a day and still burn fat? What processes supports this? How does carbcycling manipulate your metabolism? How/why does your body adapt to a diet, making you reach a plateau, and stop shedding fat/gaining muscle? How does micros affect your metabolism, and so on…
        Does this make any sense, or am I in the wrong department here?
        I work alot with “the average weight dropper” with fairly good results, but struggle more with getting results on those who are experienced and already at decent level of fitness.
        What do you think would be right way for me?

        1. Hello Morgan,
          A lot of this information is touched upon in all of these nutrition certifications mentioned in this article. But in general it sounds like what you’re looking for is more of information that a bodybuilding client might be interested in. Since most of these certifications want to be able to target the widest variety of individuals, it usually touches upon nutrition in regards to the average Joe and what their needs are. There are not too many people in the world consuming 5000 cal a day and still being able to burn fat without performing a ton of exercise. Professional athletes such as Michael Phelps comes to mind. This type of nutrition advice would be most beneficial for athletes so a sports nutrition certification would be what you are looking for.

          1. Thank you so much for your quick and informative response!
            Yes, I can see that it appears I’m looking knowledge regarding a 1% group 😊
            But still, I believe the processes that is at work at high level athletes, will at some degree be transferable to the average Joe, but of course at different level. And if you know how a Formula 1 car works, I guess understanding a regular lawnmower comes without saying 😊🙄🤔 was that a bit harsh? 😊
            Anyway…
            I read in one of your comments that the NASM CNC would be top notch…? Is it? Would it be the most covering and extensive, or is it a degree you can brag about that holds the extra costs (you have to recertify every 2 years?)? You said a sports nutrition course would be more suitable? Do they cover a deeper matter? Do they only cover nutrition regarding sport performance and competition?

            There is a jungle out there of options, everyone claiming they have the best program, so you narrowing it down is GOLD! 👍
            Here in Norway the options are narrow, unless you do a 3 year school run, ending up with a degree that doesn’t give much professions to choose from…

            Hope you have time for another comment 😊
            Thank you 👍

            1. Hello Morgan,
              Yes, I’m actually in the middle of doing a review of the NASM CNC certification. So far it does seem to be the most in-depth certification. The fact that you need to recertify with this nutrition certification every two years shows that they are dedicated towards keeping their fitness professionals up-to-date on current information. New discoveries in nutrition come along all the time and you will actually need to pass the full exam every single two years in order to stay certified with them. This will gain a lot of credit in the industry that is filled with one and done type of nutrition certifications that are not kept up to date. From what I’ve seen so far, there seems to be information on sports nutrition within the NASM CNC, but I have not had a chance to go through all of it yet since it is so new.

              1. Awesome, thank you!
                One more thing; 😂
                After spending hours reading and comparing now, the “precision nutrition” comes up pretty often. And they have a massive infoshare out there now. Any thoughts on their course? They are not on your list, because it’s not top 5 or just not reviewed?

        1. Hello,
          I am currently in the process of reviewing the precision nutrition certification as well as the new NASM CNC certification that I will be adding to this list in the coming week or so. Thanks for stopping by and make sure to stay tuned for these updates.

      15. I am an issa cpt. I want to renew my cert with nutrition cert now. They are offering me nutrition +corrective exercise certification in total $865 with hard copies and shipping. Is it a good deal? Or i should GO for NASM? But that won’t help me renew my pt cert. Looking for advice.

        1. ISSA is also a fantastic option to go through for a fitness nutrition certification. Especially if you are already certified through them through their general CPT. They do have a lot of great options with certifications in combination so it sounds like a fantastic deal overall!

      16. Hi. if my daughter gets the FNS thru NASM, what kind of employment options does she have? She wants to be a health/nutrition coach but does not wish to be a personal trainer.

        1. Hello and thanks for stopping by. She has the option to become a nutrition coach if she does not want to get into the personal training industry. There is also plenty of demand for health coaches and it is becoming more popular as people really define what a health coach provides as opposed to a personal trainer. The NASM option is a good one because it combines all of the best traits of a nutrition certification with all of the best habit changing information that is included in a health coach certification. I hope this helps you.

      17. Hey Kyle,

        Thanks for the article; it is very informative. I looked into Precision Nutrition and really liked how they have digital tools that help a coach interact with their clients. Are there any other programs that have similar offerings? I’d love to connect with you and hear your thoughts on the nutrition certification landscape so please send me an email if it’s not too much of a hassle. Thanks!

        1. Hello Michael,
          I have not looked into the nutrition certification landscape. I will have to take a look at it and include some information on it on my site. Thank you for pointing that out. I think the precision nutrition certification is a great option for people. The only downside is that they only have openings twice a year which makes it difficult to recommend it over people that are looking to get certified right now.