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Looking for the best nutrition courses to learn your macros from your micronutrients? Whether you’re a personal trainer who wants to coach clients or just someone with an interest in healthy eating, there are lots of ways to learn.
But deciding between them can be confusing… Should you pay more for accredited nutrition courses? Go for in-person classes or distance learning? Focus on the biochemistry or behaviour change aspects? To help you figure out the right option, we’ve put together a guide to the best certifications and online courses currently available.
⇒ In this article, we share the best nutrition courses for fitness professionals and people with an interest in healthy eating. Plus, we answer some frequently asked questions…
Note: this article was prepared by a qualified nutritionist. We may earn a commission if you click some of the course links but this never influences our editorial choices. Education is an important topic (especially when it relates to people’s health) so we always offer 100% unbiased information.
Nutrition Courses & Certifications for Personal Trainers
Although most personal training certifications cover the fundamentals of nutrition, they don’t always go into the depth that people are looking for. However, there’s a huge range of continuing education courses that qualified PTs can go on to do.
Additional study can help trainers to improve their nutritional knowledge and expand into specialist areas (like sports-specific or post-natal diets). Here are four of the best nutrition courses currently available to personal trainers (or general fitness enthusiasts too)…
ACE Fitness Nutrition Certification
This online course enables you to help clients make healthier food choices and change their dietary behaviour. It takes a practical approach that includes supermarket tour videos and conducting nutrition consultations with clients.
The course counts towards your continuing education credits (CECs) but isn’t recognised by bodies outside of the fitness industry. Prices start at $499.
NASM Nutrition Certification
The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) also offer a distance learning nutrition course.
It takes an evidence-based approach to healthy eating that’s grounded in scientific facts. You’ll be able to teach clients essential nutrition skills like interpreting food labels and appropriate portion sizing.
However, it’s less accredited than the ACE course and doesn’t count towards CECs for as many organisations (yet has the same $499 price tag).
Future Fit Online Nutrition Courses
If you’re looking for online nutrition courses in the UK, then Future Fit is an excellent choice. Their training is accredited by the Association for Nutrition and well-regarded throughout the industry. You can learn about a range of subjects including sports nutrition, pre and post-natal, client psychology, and weight management. They also offer a 14-day free trial so you can try before you buy.
Precision Nutrition Certification
Precision Nutrition (PN) offers a fantastic nutrition coach certification for personal trainers and fitness instructors. Diet can be a controversial subject, but they take a balanced, evidence-based, and forward-thinking approach. The Precision Nutrition level 1 course combines the science of nutrition and the art of coaching (with a level 2 ‘master class’ also available).
PN has made a conscious decision not to have their course accredited which means it may not carry as much weight with some people. But many of their instructors are practicing scientific researchers and we think they offer some of the best nutrition content around. For the $1000+ price tag, you’ll need to weigh up whether educational quality or certificate credibility is more important to you.
What About a Bachelors or MSc Nutrition Degree?
Some trainers choose to study an undergraduate or master’s degree in nutrition. This allows them to gain an in-depth understanding of the topic and establish a higher level of credibility related to it. Many universities offer part-time or distance learning options that you can fit around your work or family commitments.
Although the fees can be significantly more than other accredited nutrition courses, the qualifications are universally recognised across all sectors. You can also choose to study a selection of modules (for a lower fee) and receive a ‘certificate’ or ‘diploma’ instead of a full degree.
Nutrition Courses – Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some of the most common questions that come up about nutrition education…
Do I need a nutrition certification?
No, if you just want to learn more about nutrition or be knowledgeable enough to advise clients, then you don’t need to be certified. However, if you want to call yourself a ‘nutritionist’ then you’ll need to complete an accredited course (the same goes for dietitian).
What qualifications do you need to be a nutritionist?
In the US, the required qualifications vary by state. In the UK, nutritionist training involves completing a course accredited by the Association for Nutrition.
How do I get a nutrition certification?
Research the range of courses and select one that’ll provide certification at the level you need. Enroll on your chosen course and attend a series of nutrition classes or online training sessions. Then complete an exam or written assignment to demonstrate your knowledge. If you pass, you’ll receive your nutrition certification.
What’s the difference between human and sports nutrition?
Human nutrition explores the link between diet and health, including weight management and chronic diseases. Sports nutrition courses focus on the impact of diet on fitness training and performance, including the use of supplements (sometimes known as ergogenic aids).
What’s a holistic nutrition certification?
Holistic nutrition focuses on food in its natural state – organic, unprocessed, unrefined, and locally sourced. These certifications are often associated with ‘nutritional therapists’ who are considered less scientifically-minded than nutritionists or dieticians. It’s more of a nutritional philosophy than an evidence-based approach, but if it aligns with your thoughts then it could be worth pursuing.
Are there any free nutrition courses?
There are lots of free courses available on the internet but very few are good-quality and based on scientifically accurate information. However, Coursera sometimes offers free online courses by respected universities like Stanford that are very well-produced. If you can’t afford to pay for a course, then borrowing nutrition and dietetics books from your local library is another free option.
Is there an Open University nutrition course?
They don’t currently offer a dedicated course but their Improving Health and Wellbeing short course (£185) covers some aspects. It discusses how nutrition is influenced by individual factors, family dynamics, locality, and wider society. But it also looks at these elements in relation to exercise, alcohol, smoking, and stress too.
Are there vegan or plant-based nutrition certifications?
Most certifications will cover vegan and plant-based diets but not in much detail. There are some Udemy courses that cover the topic but these aren’t accredited and there’s no guarantee of their quality. If you’re interested in studying a plant-based course, then use our contact form to let us know.