Are you wondering what to look for in a nutrition coach? How can you find an all-star nutrition coach to help you cut through the confusion of surrounding all the ins and outs of nutrition?
The world of nutrition is extremely complex, ever-changing, and aggressive marketing with questionable claims add to the confusion. From weight gain, weight loss, overcoming hormone imbalance, pre and post-workout fueling strategies, creating an individualized supplement routine, recovering faster, slowing aging, and improving joint health, creating a fine-tuned and individualized nutrition plan can be life-changing. How can you find a good nutrition coach with the next-level skill to achieve these desirable (and very attainable with the right guidance) results?
This article will provide all the answers needed to understand online nutrition coaching, what to look for in a nutrition coach, and how to find the best online nutritionist near you.
The Confusion Around Nutrition Coaching
Maybe you’ve been riding the fence for months or years about hiring a nutrition coach but haven’t pulled the trigger because you’re unsure if it was worth the investment if it really could help you perform better, or didn’t understand how it might be possible to have great tasting food without cooking a lot or cutting out some of your favorite things.
Maybe you’ve considered getting some help with your nutrition in the past but feel completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume of health information available being promoted by “health coaches.” Let’s be honest, you can’t scroll for 30 seconds without somebody shoving some trendy sound bite down your throat about the new diet, supplement, or superfood that will “fix your bloating”,“stop sugar cravings”, or “shed stubborn fat quickly”
The craziest part here is that amongst the mass quantity of information we have, our society has the highest rates of chronic disease, IBS, anxiety and depression, infertility, hormonal imbalance, TO DATE!
Are you done wasting money sorting through podcasts, youtube videos, audiobooks, and trying questionable products only to be left still figuring out what is the BEST foods and supplement for you specifically?
STOP wasting your time running in circles like a dog chasing its tails. Learn about the power of a high-quality online nutrition coach now and start seeing results in just 7 days, not seven years.
This post will cover what all should be included when working with a nutrition coach. Furthermore, we’ll explain the best qualities to look for in an online nutritionist and how you can schedule a free 15-minute strategy call to map out a coaching plan with team FWDfuel.
What is a Nutrition Coach?
There is no universal definition for the scope of nutrition coaching, which can be problematic in many cases. Usually, nutrition coaching refers to professionals who guide individuals on their nutrition. From helping navigate the mass quantity of nutrition information out there, guiding portion sizes and overall intake of calories & macronutrients, or helping to choose which foods should or should not be eaten on an individual basis, nutrition coaches work to help you achieve your health and fitness goals.
Are Nutrition Coaches and Registered Dietitians the Same Thing?
The simple answer is “sometimes.” All registered dietitians can consider themselves a nutrition coach, but not all nutrition coaches are registered dietitians.
Registered dietitians are considered nutrition experts as they have completed collegiate-based professional training from nationally accredited nutrition programs and have passed testing to be formally licensed by their state. Nutrition coaches who are not licensed as dietitians may or may not have any formal training, mentorship, or education.
Registered dietitians must first complete a Bachelors’s degree from an accredited dietetics program at a university. Following an undergraduate degree, they must apply for a dietetic internship where they complete extensive training in the different areas of the dietetics profession, working 40+ hour weeks, often in the clinical setting. Upon finishing this 1-2 year dietetic internship (for some, this includes a Master’s degree), they must sit for a board exam to officially receive their Registered Dietitian (RD) credential.
What To Look for in a Nutrition Coach?
- First and foremost, we believe it is imperative that you seek out a nutrition coach with a registered dietitian (RD) certification. The reason for this may not be what you expect…
As registered dietitians go through extensive training throughout their 6-7 years of school, they have a deeper understanding of the science behind nutrition and how food works in the body than most nutritionists who are not dietitians.
It’s one thing to learn how to calculate calories for a person from the internet, but having a deep understanding of the nuances of nutritional biochemistry is essential.
Having this deeper understanding is crucial for helping a person improve health conditions through nutrition and supplementation because it goes far beyond merely calories in vs calories out.
- Look for somebody who specializes in the problems you want to be solved.
Would you walk into a sporting goods store if you were looking for a dress or suit for an upcoming wedding? No, you’d probably go into a department store.
Would you see a heart doctor if your symptoms were chronic headaches and migraines? No, you’d probably see a neurologist.
The same thing applies to you when choosing a nutrition coach.
Different nutrition coaches for different goals here! Find something that has documented testimonial proof of consistently helping people with similar problems as you.
Dietetics is a vast field, and the different specializations go far and wide. Not everybody knows everything, and that’s okay! That’s what makes us good at what we do.
Again, you would not have a brain surgeon and a dermatologist working on the same patient, right? The same applies to nutrition coaches. For example, clinical dietitians in the hospital that work with chronic diseases like kidney disease will know more about balancing electrolytes but are not well equipped to help a division 1 athlete build lean muscle as effectively.
- Find a nutrition coach who practices root-cause nutrition – AKA Functional Nutrition!
What is Functional Nutrition?
Functional nutrition goes beyond calorie counting or generalized serving sizes for fruit and veggies. In functional nutrition or “root-cause” nutrition, we help you get to the underlying cause of your current nagging symptoms and poor performance instead of putting a band-aid on the problems you’re having.
Let’s use the rock in the shoe example. If you have a rock in your shoe, it’s going to cause pain. A nutritionist that practices from a conventional lens would say, “take some ibuprofen.” The pain may temporarily go away, but will that stop the pain from returning long term? Nope.
Working with a nutrition coach who practices from a functional lens would suggest you take the rock out of your shoe. We can apply this to many conditions, and this is how we approach each new client in our functional sports nutrition practice.
Ready to take your nutrition to the next level? Want to have a meal plan individualized to your exact needs, fix autoimmune issues, and reverse chronic illness once and for all?
How about getting rid of bloating, fatigue, or simply recovering better from workouts?
Get faster, better, and more sustainable results by booking a nutrition coaching package with FWDfuel Sports Nutrition!
Check out 50+ 5-star reviews and visit our coaching packages to schedule your 3-month coaching package with Kylene and Abby. Payment plans are available. Get started with 1 on 1 virtual nutrition coaching today.
What might this look like in our practice?
A conventional nutritionist or doctor would recommend you take Prilosec for your acid reflux. In contrast, a functional nutritionist would help you find balance in your gut and address the underlying reason as to why you have acid reflux in the first place.
Here’s another example… A conventional nutritionist or doctor would recommend you take birth control to stop your painful period cramps. In contrast, a functional nutrition approach would help you address the diet and lifestyle habits that are causing hormonal imbalances in the first place.
Whether you’re dealing with constant fatigue, irregular periods, joint pain, bloating, constipation, skin issues, you name it, you want somebody to help you figure out WHY you feel this way and then address those problems through proper nutrition and supplementation.
- Find somebody who has a coaching style you relate to
- Availability for Support:
If you’re a person who needs a lot of hand-holding, be sure your nutrition coach is available on a weekly or bi-weekly basis for check-ins and questions. Having ongoing support is crucial when starting any new nutrition plan because it’s new and unfamiliar. When you have support for when times get tough, it will lead to much higher levels of success.
- Tracking vs Not-tracking:
Some nutrition coaches use only macro counting with a fitness tracker such as My Fitness Pal. This is typically considered the “counting macros” approach, and while it can be a super helpful tool in learning about the value of food and how much you are eating, it is not the right approach for every person.
Other nutrition coaches may take an “if it fits your macros approach” where food quality isn’t stressed so much as food quantity. For a person who doesn’t deal with daily symptoms of inflammation such as bad acne, bloating and gas, headaches and migraines, joint pain, or fatigue, this may be an acceptable approach. They will function well on any and all foods, but for others, including any and all foods in the diet may be making them feel worse.
- Autocratic vs Democratic Coaching Styles
Let’s preface by saying that there is no right or wrong way to be coached. Some people need that fire lit underneath them and respond to “tough love” very well. In those cases, getting a coach that practices more autocratic coaching where the Dos and Don’ts of the nutrition plan are spelled out with little room for input from the client. For somebody who has tried 1 million and one nutrition plans with little success and just wants an approach spelled out to a T for them, this approach can be very effective.
Some individuals respond horribly to an intensive, strict plan that does not consider their input/preferences or is too far outside their comfort zone. Especially those who have lots of changes to make in their diet and lifestyle, too many changes at one time that are foreign and uncomfortable could result in complete overwhelm! In this case, a coach that practices more democratic coaching where decision making and goal setting is client-centered based on their readiness to make lifestyle changes is used. This type of coaching may work well for somebody who is just dipping their toes into the water concerning changing their nutrition.
Regardless, you should find a nutrition coach willing to work within your food preferences, comfort of tracking/not-tracking, coaching style, level of support, etc.
- Look for a nutrition coach who has your long-term health in mind.
This one hits DEEP for us. We’ve all received terrible nutrition advice that may have even left your health and performance in a worse place than when you started.
For example, getting somebody to lose 20 pounds in a few weeks by aggressively cutting their calories down is an approach that does not take long-term health into consideration. For a nutrition coach who doesn’t have a firm understanding of the long-term consequences of this by merely focusing on calories in vs calories out, long-term health could be compromised in exchange for transient, short-term benefits.
You see, many “nutrition coaches” understand the basics of calories in vs calories out. However, they don’t have a deep understanding of how drastic nutrition approaches like 1200-1500 calorie diets, ketogenic diets, intermittent fasting, or vegan can leave long-lasting effects on metabolism, hormones, and overall mental health.
***If the online nutritionist’s marketing seems too good to be true, RUN, not walk the other direction.
What Should I NOT Look for in a Nutrition Coach?
- Claiming they can use nutrition to help fix your medical conditions unless they are a registered dietitian
The only nutrition professional licensed to use medical nutrition therapy (MNT) to treat a person’s medical condition is a registered dietitian. Any other “nutrition coach”, “health coach”, or “influencer” who claims to do that is illegally working beyond their scope of practice.
Dietitians should take the same approach with conditions outside of their scope.
For example, say an RD starts working with an individual looking to lose weight but comes to find out that there are disordered thoughts and patterns around food. This dietitian would want to refer that client to a psychologist to help address these issues properly. Dietitians are not licensed mental health experts, which is why bringing in the attention of a professional who is trained in treating mental health is imperative. Working within your scope of practice is CRUCIAL for safe and effective nutrition coaching services.
- Require fancy powders/supplements/juices
We won’t name names here, but we all know about the companies and programs out there that have you slamming meal replacement shakes/day to “detox” your body in place of eating real meals.
First of all, these companies are often making money from selling their products to you. Secondly, these radical approaches often yield short-term results but make for terrible long-term investments in your health. As soon as you’re finished with the juice or supplement program, you go right back to what you were doing before, leaving you without a long-term sustainable approach to eating.
Many times the companies are aware of these results but straight up do not care because they are in it to make money and get you to promote your immediate results that will eventually hook newbies to start the process as well.
The less we can promote “quick fixes” to achieving desired results and more so promote nutrition coaching from trained experts, the less damaged individuals we will have coming out of diet culture.
- Subscribes to one type of nutrition approach
What exactly might be meant by this?
Basically, we mean you should refrain from latching onto an online nutritionist who promotes keto, intermittent fasting, low fat, or any other extreme nutrition approach as their sole nutrition approach.
There are times that a specific nutrition protocol such as a therapeutic elimination diet, leaky gut protocol, or cortisol reduction plan would be very effective for a person, but it’s impossible to generalize that approach for every single person. Without getting a deep nutrition and medical history for a person, you can’t be sure that approach is safe and effective for YOU.
Your nutrition coach should be able to create a personalized protocol that is tailored to your health, performance, and body composition goals.
When they are promoting one way as the golden gate to reaching your goals, it’s likely because they anecdotally had a great experience when they used it personally.
That means nothing for you because your body is different and may not do as well on X, Y, Z protocol.
At FWDfuel, we take each individual athlete on a case-by-case basis. We blend the good from various nutrition approaches to fit the lifestyle, preferences, and goals of each individual. This is how we see such killer results in those we work with.
- Has a reductionist view of nutrition (versus a whole system approach to nutrition)
A reductionist approach to nutrition (or medicine in general) is taking a complex problem and making it solvable by breaking it down into individual simpler parts. In the world of medicine, this is basically taking one symptom and implying that it has one individual cause and form of treatment.
For example, the conventional/reductionist approach to acne would attribute its cause to clogged hair follicles, thus the treatment would be to use a topical cream or an antibiotic to clear the bacteria from the pores.
First of all, the question “why are the follicles clogged” is not being asked. Secondly, there is zero consideration about the system-wide effect that the topical or antibiotic may have on the rest of the immune system.
Take high blood sugar for another example. A nutrition coach with a reductionist approach that assesses you for high blood sugar or insulin resistance would recommend switching over to sugar-free food products in an effort to decrease the intake of sugar.
But, with this approach, the system-wide impact consuming sugar-free products has on the body and gut microbiome is not being considered! Artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols have been shown to disrupt positive gut flora so while blood sugar may improve, gut dysbiosis takes it place.
Case in point, you want to thoroughly research working with a nutrition coach who considers the entire body as a system and not as separate parts that exist in a silo.
How FWDFuel Nutrition Coaching Coaching Packages Work
The exciting thing about the nutrition coaching packages we offer here at FWDfuel is that all of the qualities listed above that you want to look for in an online nutritionist, we have!
- Our nutrition coaches are licensed dietitians, both of which hold graduate nutrition degrees and other specialized certifications.
- We are a functional nutrition company that takes a root-cause approach to your unfavorable symptoms and performance plateaus.
- While we will never claim to be the experts in every single nutrition problem out there, we have sound education and experience in the world of functional sports nutrition, particularly for those individuals dealing with persistent fatigue, gut issues, and hormonal imbalances. If we do not believe our services can help you with the issues you’re having, we are happy to help refer you to a service that may be a better fit for you!
- We provide ongoing virtual support to our clients for concerns/questions throughout the duration of their nutrition coaching package. We truly believe that open and honest communication is necessary for the success of our clients.
- We take an individualized approach to our coaching style and nutrition protocol with every single person, which is based on their individual needs and goals. No person receives the same cookie cooker meal template, set of macronutrients, or supplement protocol.
What All Comes With 1 on 1 virtual coaching at FWDfuel Sports Nutrition?
Whether you’re struggling with body composition, reacting to foods you never have in the past, noticing irregularities in your menstrual health, or overall hormonal health, we are here to help. As mentioned, we tailor the information given to each individual to meet your needs. Immediate results can be seen that will enhance your performance, but we are also focused on building a long-term sustainable eating approach for life.
We offer a number of packages for you to choose from depending on your preferred level of service, concerns, and price point. Our most common nutrition coaching is the Basic Nutrition Coaching package, which includes 3 months of guidance, including 1 initial evaluation (60-minutes) and 2 follow-ups (30-minutes) virtual appointments
Following each visit, you can expect:
- Creation of a completely personalized nutrition plan based on your unique goals and health history.
- Ongoing support via a communication platform to message your dietitian whenever questions arise. Our dietitians guarantee a 48 hr response time when you have questions!
- Access to professional-grade supplements that cannot be purchased in-store
More advanced packages, such as the VIP Coaching and GI Testing package would include:
- Advanced testing to conquer your health issues and fine-tune your plan using stool tests, comprehensive hormone tests, food sensitivity testing, and more!
- Weekly – Bi-weekly (as requested) support from your dietitian to set weekly goals for the duration of your package
- Assistance with finding a chef or high-quality meal service in your area.
- Constant communication with that Chef according to your personalized meal plan
What our Clients are Saying After Working With FWDfuel Online Nutritionists
We believe we offer services unlike others out there. The attention to detail we give each of our clients is what sets us apart from other nutrition coaching services, but don’t take our word for it. Check out what our past nutrition coaching clients are saying about their experience working with our dietitians at FWDfuel!
Hopefully, after today’s article, you feel instrumentally more confident knowing how to start shopping for the best nutrition coach. At FWDfuel, we firmly believe that having a practitioner who you can confide in and trust is imperative. We want you to NEVER have to hire another online nutritionist because we’ve given you the knowledge and tools needed to succeed for life, not just 30 days.
Just like you invest in comfortable clothes, quality hair and makeup products, or healthy and delicious food, investing in high-quality nutrition coaching is a necessary step for successful long-term health and peak performance. It’s one you won’t regret and will see the return on investment within weeks if you are ready to commit. There aren’t many that do it like us at FWDfuel, and we can’t wait for you to experience that first hand!
So what do you say?
Are you ready to invest in a process that will result in you alleviating your long-term belly bloat, blasting through your performance plateaus, ridding those miserable PMS symptoms you get before on your period, or skyrocketing your energy to the point you forget you ever survived off a pot of coffee?
We are more than ready and encourage you to check out our virtual coaching packages for all the details you need. Now, if you’re SERIOUS about committing to the FWDfuel process but have some questions or concerns about getting started, we invite you to schedule a FREE 15- minute strategy call where together you and Kylene or Abby will go over your health challenges and goals to see if working together makes sense!
Find the Best Online Nutritionist | What to Look For in a Nutrition Coach is written by Abby Vichill for www.fwdfuel.com