Hello and welcome to my full review of the Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. I write this after taking and passing the Precision Nutrition course. This review includes my experience as a trainer and nutritionist for over 10 years.
This article covers the following topics:
- Organization information: PN Level 1 pricing, packages, prerequisites
- Quality of the program and PN textbook
- Exam and recertification information
- Pros and Cons, is this the right program for you?
- How the Precision Nutrition Level 1 compares to other nutrition certifications
Our team at PT Pioneer has many trainers and nutritionists certification through the various organizations. We have compiled our knowledge to give you the most complete review of the Precision Nutrition Level 1 course using our total experience.
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Precision Nutrition Information
- Exam cost: $999
- Study material cost: $99/month for 12 months
- Prerequisites: High School Diploma, CPR/AED
- Exam pass rate: 70%
- Average completion time: 2-6 months
- A lot of essential nutrition science that builds on PT cert foundations
- Future classes like Level 2 cert add on and continue coaching careers well
- Option to be purchased through ISSA with CPT
- ProCoach software can be very beneficial starting out
- The organization only offers nutrition certs
- A limited sign-up window for programs, only starts two times per year
- Pricey compared to competing nutrition certifications, other nutrition certs cost less and offer nearly the same experience.
- Not accredited
What is the Precision Nutrition Level 1?
The Precision Nutritionist Level 1 course aims at giving fitness professionals the tools to be able to work as a nutritionist, helping clients achieve their dietary goals. Note that this is not a dietitian course.
Precision Nutrition credibility and reputation
Precision Nutrition was started in 2005 with the idea of helping clients live a fit and healthy life.
The company was founded by Dr. John Berardi and Phil Caravaggio. They have now expanded to have many renowned fitness experts, health professionals, and all-star athletes.
Precision Nutrition is the largest and most respected private nutrition organization in the world. They only offer classes in nutrition, not other realms of fitness.
They currently offer level 1 and level 2 nutrition certifications. The first focuses on nutrition more so, and the second focuses more on coaching aspects.
The company is also well-known for its coaching software, ProCoach. This helps fitness professionals to deliver quality programs to their clients. They have a solid coaching network.
Is Precision Nutrition worth it?
Yes, the Precision Nutrition Level 1 course is worth it for fitness professionals looking to coach nutrition, because of the great practical knowledge you learn in the nutrition coaching sphere.
The Level 1 Nutrition Certification course is a proven system of coaching and nutrition with support from some big names in the fitness and wellness realm.
This program is a science-based approach to coaching and nutrition. The program’s structure is great at giving the learner the essential nutrition concepts in a quick way.
One of the main benefits that Precision Nutrition pushes is the ability to coach as you learn. The information is presented in a way where you can begin effectively applying the concepts to your current coaching practice.
The materials aim to progress in that way to grow your coaching business as you integrate what you learn. You become a certified nutritionist after achieving this cert.
Precision Nutrition gets its research and methodology from Ph.D.-level resources and essentially gives a university-level program at a small fraction of that cost.
This course can count as college credit, and takes the place of a 3-hour course at a university. This speaks to the quality of this certification.
The Level 1 Certification is not accredited anywhere through an outside organization, which is one of the main negatives. This is mostly due to the exam process for this certificate. It is a bit easy compared to the rest of the industry.
Normally, the most valued certifications are NCCA accredited, but in this case, Precision Nutrition’s Level 1 is not accredited. Despite these reasons, it is still highly respected.
Precision Nutrition vs other top certifications
Many other organizations offer similar nutrition certification programs. The most popular come from ISSA, NASM, with options from ACE as well.
All nutrition certifications have pros and cons so students might choose one or another depending on individual needs.
The ISSA Nutritionist remains one of the best all around options and I like how they include business skills in the certification, giving you practical knowledge on how to actually create income as a fitness expert. Knowing how to scale your operation will give you a roadmap across your lifetime as a nutrition coach.
The ACE Fitness Nutritionist Specialist (ACE FNS) provides excellent tips on how to build positive behavioral food strategies with clients, which I really like. Understanding meal portion control in regards to eating gives you a lot of tools to help clients. On the negative side, this is not a full certification but a specialization, so that’s something to consider.
NASM’s Certified Nutrition Coach Certification (NASM CNC) is a good all around certification. This is my second recommendation after ISSA.
Who is the Precision Nutrition certification meant for?
The Precision Nutritionist Level 1 course is meant for anyone looking to become a nutritionist. This means you can offer general guidance and support regarding all things nutrition in your role as a heath professional.
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However, being a nutritionist is not the same as a registered dietician, so you still have to work within your scope of practice. You cannot diagnose disease or prescribe supplements. Nutritionists cannot offer specific diet plans with recommendations for exact fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and calories.
You can, however, use the USDA MyPlate suggestions as a reference for general nutrition advice towards helping clients achieve their health/weight goals, so you can still help them produce good results.
So, for instance, you can mention that avoiding excess sugar is a good thing, but you can’t create personalized nutrition programs that state a client must eat “less than 20 grams of sugar” for weight loss.
Nutritionists can educate clients on the health benefits of proper nutrition and the positive effects caused by clients taking control of their own diets. When healthy eating becomes a pleasure rather than an obligation, you can really change people’s lives.
Precision Nutrition cost and packages
The Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification costs $999, and it can’t be found for any cheaper. $999 gives you $429 savings from the original cost of $1428.
Even this discount price is a bit expensive compared to other nutrition coaching programs, so it could be a big barrier in the case of some people for whom money is tight.
It’s also important to note, due to high demand, you can’t just sign up for the program immediately. Individuals join a waitlist for the opportunity of enrollment. Precision Nutrition has a limited number of spots to apply for. This situation differs from the ways other certification companies operate.
Precision Nutrition ProCoach
The ProCoach client management software is a solid system to help coach clients while being integrated perfectly with the teachings of Precision Nutrition.
The app manages the clients with a user-friendly UI that makes tracking simple. It has automated features that make it even more convenient and efficient.
Coaches using this application will boost their productivity and the number of clients they can care for.
The software is costly after the trial, though. It is $99 a month for up to 20 clients and then changes after that number of clients. This is rather steep, but it is extremely effective at what it does.
Let’s now look into the course content coverage.
Precision Nutrition Level 1 Content Coverage
The study materials included in the purchase of the PN Nutrition Certification are the three textbooks and the accompanying online portal for test-taking and other quizzes and nutrition knowledge checks.
Currently, the text is in its 4th version, being recently revised from the ground up. In total, there are 20 chapters in the textbook.
The text is broken up into three units, and each unit is a book. And then there is a study guide and workbook that comes with it.
Precision Nutrition also offers learners easy access to nearly all of the documents you might need as a nutrition coach. You can begin using these as soon as you find them in your program.
The assessment of your learning throughout your studies will come from three things: the workbook/study guide, the case studies, and the chapter exams. It is a pretty standard and efficient way to ensure the learner understands new information.
Let’s break down the study materials curriculum and look at three main aspects of the coaching method: Nutritional Science, Behavior Change Strategies, and Nutrition coaching. These are the main ingredients of any nutrition program.
Nutritional Science usually serves as the foundation and start of a nutrition program, and in this cert, it is in the second unit textbook in a different order.
Within this section are chapters 6 – 14. Here are the titles for those:
- Chapter 6: Introduction to Nutritional Science
- Chapter 7: Systems and Cells
- Chapter 8: Through the GI Tract
- Chapter 9: Energy transformation and Metabolism
- Chapter 10: Energy Balance
- Chapter 11: Macronutrients
- Chapter 12: Micronutrients and Whole Foods
- Chapter 13: Water and Fluid Balance
- Chapter 14: Stress, Recovery, and Sleep
This is the bulk of what people believe they will learn with a nutrition certification, but it is not the strongest aspect of this program.
The PN Level 1 certification method starts differently from most. They introduce digestion and the bodily systems before the details on macronutrients and micronutrients.
Compared to other nutrition certifications, like ACE or NASM, the nutritional science aspects are lacking in detail.
The fact is, it would be nice to see more focus put on specific nutrients. One chapter per macronutrient is not too much to ask for, as these are quite complicated concepts. Macros are fundamental to nutrition.
They aren’t covered to quite the same level of detail of competing organizations that charge less for their study programs. So, that aspect is a bit more of an upset.
The program does include links to outside articles for assistance in each of the chapters. These are mostly the free articles already available to the public via the Precision Nutrition website.
So, it is an odd choice to have some of the taught info as some of the taught information is already available on the website, but it is a great for those looking to gain a deeper understanding of healthy eating available through their website for free. Especially when this content forms the foundation of nutrition science.
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Behavior Change Strategies
There is no dedicated section to behavior change strategies, but it is present throughout the certification study program.
The only main chapter dedicated to behavior change coaching would be Chapter 4: Helping People Change.
The Precision Nutrition approach relies on our action creating change through a 5 step formula for goal setting.
Goals are required to be strategic, segmental, sequential, simple, and supported. The ideas for realistic goals are set up as a partnership between the client and the coach with both on board. That makes the goals more relevant and personal to the client.
The textbook also goes through many examples and deep-dives into realistic scenarios between clients and their coaches.
This definitely gives some solid examples for a fitness professional to reference in situations when they are training clients.
These concepts are reinforced throughout the third unit textbook, where PN brings everything together to talk about the actual job of nutrition coaching.
I would say that the actual behavior-change coaching concepts are the weakest of the three aspects of this certification.
It would be nice to include a deeper dive into concepts of psychology and ideas on why people act the way they do. I feel Precision Nutrition should take a page out of ACE or NASM’s programs, which hit the nail on the head when they go into behaviors and how to analyze them. Still, you should have some confidence in this topic after taking the Precision Nutrition Level 1.
The Nutritional Coaching sections come in the third unit of the textbooks. These concepts are represented throughout these chapters:
- Chapter 15: Coaching in Practice
- Chapter 16: Working With Level 1 Clients
- Chapter 17: Working With Level 2 Clients
- Chapter 18: Working With Level 3 Clients
- Chapter 19: Special Scenarios
- Chapter 20: Business 101
The Coaching In Practice chapter starts the section off running with videos and applications for everything learned prior.
This certification does an excellent job of introducing clients’ ideas at varying types of levels, which means they need individualization in their programs.
This is so beneficial for clientele, as this can be a major problem with fitness and wellness coaching. Frequently, coaches get lazy or simply think that programs are universally beneficial for everyone.
The basic concepts of the precision nutrition coaching process are: Assess, Guess, Try, Measure, and Repeat.
I find that these concepts teach excellent nutritional coaching skills, but understanding these will make anyone a better coach in whatever field they may be in.
The textbook has clients placed in the categories of 1 – 3, with 1 being the majority of people and 3 being the highly restrictive and more advanced people.
It is helpful to have this idea of applying different techniques depending on the level of restriction for dietary choices versus when someone is already in great general health.
And then, the section ends with special scenarios and business tips for the coaches. I’d say without a doubt that coaching in this textbook is the strongest part.
This certification is bound to give even the best trainers some kind of advice to further their coaching abilities.
It is also good to note that the Precision Nutrition Level 2 certification from Precision Nutrition actually focuses on being a coaching specialization. It doesn’t focus on nutrition foundations, as here in Level 1.
That wraps up the major concepts that the book teaches for nutrition coaches; now let’s look at the PN certification exam.
Precision Nutrition exam prep and study materials
When you sign up for Precision Nutrition Level 1 you get three textbooks with a workbook to use.
In addition, you are able to join a private Facebook study group for others taking the PN course.
The online study portal contains videos, tests, and downloads.
Each module takes you through the 20 total chapter tests you take to finish off the course. The whole process is incredibly streamlined and easy to navigate at your own pace.
Precision Nutrition certification requirements
While the website does not list prerequisites, most exercise certifications require you to be over 18, have a high school diploma/GED, and have a current CPR/AED certification.
I would certainly recommend any fitness professional to learn CPR and First Aid, as it is essential if you are working with clients in person for general safety.
Precision Nutritionist salary
According to ZipRecruiter data, the average PN Certified Nutritionist living in the US makes $50,584.
This number just gives you an idea of what you could make when starting your nutrition coaching business, not what you will make, as other things determine your career income, such as experience, hard work, talent, and luck.
Of course, you can increase your earning potential if you are certified as a personal trainer as well or have other credentials like being a strength and conditioning coach or health coach. Any extra expertise always makes you stand out and could be the difference between you getting hired or not by a gym or client.
Peers of mine have stated they earned similar figures, not in the first year, but after a few seasons a nutrition coach.
Taking the final Precision Nutrition Level 1 exam
Each section of the PN Level 1 course takes you step-by-step through the content with a quiz to test knowledge comprehension.
With this format, you should have no problems passing each exam provided you are paying attention, and I would certainly recommend taking notes as you learn.
You must get 75 percent or more on each exam to pass. You can also retake exams if you don’t know the answers the first time so you have a high chance of passing and there’s minimal pressure to have a perfect result on each one.
Precision Nutrition continuing education and recertification
Once you become a Precision Nutrition Certified coach, you must renew your certification every two years.
Other Precision Nutrition offerings
Here’s a list of other Precision Nutrition courses you may want to look at:
- PN Level 1 Sleep, Stress Management, and Recovery Coaching Certification
- PN Master Health Coaching Certification
- PN Level 2 Coach
These courses also give you education credits toward your recertification. Getting CEUs (or CECs) with this method speeds up the process and helps add more authority to your coaching.
Precision Nutrition Level 1 overall rating
Precision Nutrition Level 1 Review (2023)
By the end of this review, you will know whether or not precision nutrition level 1 certification is right for you!
Product Currency: USD
Product Price: 999
Product In-Stock: InStock
- Incredibly popular
- Easy online interface
- Good real-world coaching skills
- Less focus on basic nutritional science
- Not fully accredited
The Precision Nutrition Certification is good but not the best nutrition coaching certification in the industry.
It is a tad too high of a price for the materials and name attached to it. However, if you were to purchase the bundle with the ISSA certification, this would increase the value tenfold.
I would rate this certification a 7.3 out of 10 in total.
This Level 1 Nutrition course is good, but I believe there are lots of better options out there for success as a future fitness and wellness coach.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How much is Precision Nutrition Level 1?
Precision Nutrition Level 1 starts at $999, and this is the price with discounts. It is generally the cheapest you find the certification for. It’s a lot compared to others.
What is included in the purchase of the PN Level 1 Cert?
3 unit textbooks, 20 animated video seminars, 1 study guide, 1 workbook, real-world scenarios, active learning tools, and 40+ premium coaching tools.
How long does the program take?
On average, I think it would take about 4 months to complete if you schedule a few hours a week. Graduates of this program report similar study times.
Is Precision Nutrition Accredited?
No government organization accredits Precision Nutrition certifications, but they are still of good quality.
Can this Level 1 certification count for college credits?
Yes, this can count for 3 session hours in degree credits at colleges and universities within the US after completion of the program.
Precision Nutrition Certification Review (YouTube)
Here is an older video that I did a few years back. Check this out if you prefer to digest your information with a video.
Make sure to check this page for the most up-to-date information.
Precision Nutrition Certification Review (Podcast)
Here is the same audio from the video review, but check this out if you prefer to hear the audio.