Nutritionist Vs. Dietitian: What Are They and Which is Best For You?

Maintaining a healthy diet appears easy, however typically you might want additional help. Whereas there are meals to eat that help general well being, your weight loss plan could be private, and what works for one particular person may not be just right for you.

In case you’re an athlete with particular fitness goals, coping with a medical situation, or fighting vitamin indirectly, searching for personalised {and professional} steerage might be useful. In case you’re a health skilled who educates your purchasers on healthy diets, possibly you’re trying to take your information and scope of follow to the subsequent stage. 

A certified nutritionist giving advice to a client.
Credit score: Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

There are two sorts of acknowledged vitamin professionals to grasp: registered dietitians and authorized nutritionists. The primary distinction is the schooling necessities which result in what every career is ready to do of their practices. Right here’s every little thing you want to learn about registered dietitians, licensed nutritionists, the distinction, easy methods to pursue each profession paths, and the opposite types of diet professionals. 

Editor’s Notice: The content material on BarBend is supposed to be informative in nature, nevertheless it shouldn’t be taken as medical recommendation. When beginning a brand new coaching routine and/or weight loss plan, it’s at all times a good suggestion to seek the advice of with a trusted medical skilled. We’re not a medical useful resource. The opinions and articles on this web site will not be meant to be used as analysis, prevention, and/or therapy of well being issues. They don’t seem to be substitutes for consulting a certified medical skilled.

What’s a Registered Dietician?

A registered dietician — additionally referred to as a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) — is a licensed healthcare skilled. They’re vitamin specialists and could also be board-certified by the Fee on Dietetic Registration (CDR). They’ve a bachelor’s or grasp’s diploma and a certification from a program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Schooling in Vitamin and Dietetics (ACEND). They’ve accomplished additional coursework, a number of ranges of coaching, and have handed a nationwide examination to obtain their license to follow.

Registered dietitians can assess the consuming habits of their purchasers and educate them about wholesome consuming. They’re additionally certified to create meal plans to deal with folks with well being situations like diabetes, kidney illness, weight problems, and consuming problems.

A registered dietician explaining his recommendations.
Credit score: Bangkok Click on Studio / Shutterstock

[Read More: The Best Online Workout Programs For Coaching, Cardio, Value, And More]

RDN’s work in personal practices and/or public well being, in addition to medical settings like long-term care amenities, nursing properties, pediatrics, and hospitals. They could additionally work in correctional amenities, food-related industries, universities, or doing analysis for pharmaceutical and different sorts of corporations. (1)

What’s a Licensed Nutritionist?

Licensed Vitamin Specialists (CNS) and Medical Nutritionists should meet sure requirements to be acknowledged by the American Vitamin Affiliation (ANA). If you wish to work with a nutritionist with specialised information, it could be useful to search for these certifications. 

Licensed and medical nutritionists study their purchasers’ consuming habits and well being objectives. They supply schooling and behavioral teaching on easy methods to eat more healthy to help their objectives and wishes. Whereas they might supply vitamin recommendation for folks with medical situations, they don’t deal with these situations or prescribe intervention. Their scope of follow is extra restricted to instructing their purchasers about how vitamin can help their wellness holistically.

What’s the Distinction Between a Registered Dietitian and a Licensed Nutritionist?

The primary distinction between a registered dietitian and a licensed nutritionist is their schooling — which ends up in totally different credentials and scopes of follow. 

Registered dieticians are licensed medical professionals that will additionally obtain a nutritionist certification as a part of their credentials. All registered dietitians are nutritionists, however not all nutritionists are registered dietitians.

Registered Dietitian

One fundamental distinction between the 2 scopes of follow is that registered dietitians can diagnose dietary situations and refer you to a doctor for a medical situation. They could work in medical settings like long-term care amenities, inpatient and outpatient hospitals the place they assist sufferers handle situations like diabetes and kidney illness. They could additionally work with psychological well being professionals to deal with folks with consuming problems or addictions the place vitamin might assist their situations. 

Registered dieticians can present medical vitamin remedy (MNT). MNT is an evidence-based instructional and administration instrument for folks with diabetes. It features a analysis, remedy, and vitamin counseling. It helps folks handle diabetes by establishing well being objectives, creating meal plans, counting carbohydrates, and following up on consuming, behavioral, and way of life habits. (2)(3)They’ll additionally prescribe dietary supplements.

A person getting advice from a dietician at a clinic.
Credit score: Floor Image / Shutterstock

[Read More: Omega 3 Benefits — More Muscle, Better Recovery, and Enhanced Endurance]

Analysis exhibits that MNT is efficient at managing glycemic, lipids, and blood strain ranges for folks with diabetes. It really works by instructing folks to stability their macronutrients. This may increasingly result in treating weight problems, rising insulin resistance, and general boosting their metabolic well being. (4) Present process MNT with an RD might assist with weight reduction, decreasing levels of cholesterol, and doubtlessly lowering the necessity for medicine. (2)

Registered dieticians can select to focus on areas like diabetes by turning into Licensed Diabetes Care and Schooling Specialists (CDCES). They could additionally focus on sports activities vitamin by turning into a sports activities dietitian (CSSD). Different areas embody pediatrics (CSP), renal or kidney vitamin (CSR), and vitamin for oncology (CSO). They could additionally give attention to analysis, administration, and neighborhood. (1

Licensed Nutritionist

Licensed nutritionist is a broad time period, and a few might have additional specializations and credentials than others. These embody licensed vitamin specialists (CNS) and authorized medical nutritionists (CCN). 

Usually talking, licensed nutritionists are vitamin coaches which have earned at the very least a bachelor’s diploma in vitamin or a associated discipline. They’ll educate folks and the general public on easy methods to reside wholesome life and supply common vitamin recommendation. They’ll clarify the hyperlink between consuming properly and general well being. They’ll additionally information their purchasers towards consuming a balanced quantity of macro and micronutrients to assist forestall ailments or attain sure well being objectives. In some states, solely RDs can provide meal plans to their purchasers or sufferers, and nutritionists can’t. (5

Licensed nutritionists work in personal practices, medical settings, faculties, sports activities organizations, and public well being. They could be in the identical settings as registered dietitians, however they focus extra on schooling and steerage. 

Tips on how to Turn out to be a Registered Dietitian?

There are 5 steps to turning into a registered dietitian. As of July 2023, you will need to obtain a bachelor’s diploma in medical vitamin or a associated discipline. Starting January 1, 2024, the minimal diploma for eligibility will change to a grasp’s or larger graduate diploma. (6) The diploma program should even be accredited by the Accreditation Council for Schooling in Vitamin and Dietetics (ACEND).

Being mentored during internship as a dietician.
Credit score: Dragon Pictures / Shutterstock

[Read More: The Best Ashwagandha Supplements For Sleep, Testosterone, And More]

Step two is to finish a dietetic internship the place you’ll bear 1,200 hours of supervision with a licensed skilled. Step three is to take and cross the Fee on Dietetic Registration (CDR) examination. After passing the examination, step 4 is to obtain licensure in your state. After you get licensed, the ultimate fifth step is to take care of your state license by finishing 75 persevering with schooling credit each 5 years. (7)

Tips on how to Turn out to be a Licensed Nutritionist?

Individuals might name themselves a nutritionist after finishing a bachelor’s or grasp’s diploma in vitamin, public well being, or different associated fields. There are lots of certifications you will get that require totally different ranges of schooling and coaching.

If you wish to get board-certified, you’ll be able to select to turn out to be a Licensed Vitamin Specialist (CNS). That is acknowledged by the Board of Certification for Vitamin Specialists (BCNS) and the American Vitamin Affiliation (ANA). That is a complicated credential for personalised vitamin. 

[Read More: The Best Foods for Energy Before, During, and After Your Workouts]

The necessities to turn out to be a CNS are: a grasp’s of science diploma or larger in vitamin or a associated discipline, 35 hours of related coursework in vitamin and biochemistry accredited by the Accreditation Council for Vitamin Skilled Schooling (ACNPE), 1,000 hours of supervised follow, passing the Certification Examination for Vitamin Specialists, and finishing 5 BCNS case research. You need to recertify each 5 years by finishing 75 persevering with schooling credit. (8)

The CNS credential is widely known, however it’s not a license.

Different Licensed Vitamin Professionals

You might come throughout different sorts of licensed vitamin professionals. A few of them could also be RDs who pursued additional specializations, and a few are separate certifications. These are sometimes obtainable to people who find themselves already well being professionals indirectly. Listed below are a number of frequent sorts.

Licensed Medical Nutritionist (CCN)

A licensed medical nutritionist (CCN) applies rules of biochemistry and physiology to enhance well being by way of vitamin on a person foundation. A CCN can assess a affected person’s blood work and different bodily elements to offer vitamin recommendation to assist them obtain optimum physiological perform. Based mostly on their findings, they might refer sufferers to different licensed medical professionals. (9)

They’ll make strategies for vitamin and way of life modifications, recommend dietary supplements, and supply schooling on the affected person’s particular person organic make-up. Being a medical nutritionist just isn’t a license—although licensed professionals might pursue this certification—and on their very own, they can not diagnose or deal with medical situations. 

[Read More: The Best Healthy Fast Food Options at the Most Popular U.S. Chains]

The Medical Vitamin Certification Board (CNCB) is a postgraduate program and persevering with schooling. Candidates should first have a bachelor’s or grasp’s diploma in vitamin or a associated discipline to be accredited by the CNCB. They’ll then take programs by way of CNCB. Afterward, they have to cross the CNCB examination to obtain a certification in medical vitamin. (10)

Licensed Sports activities Nutritionist

Sports activities nutritionists give attention to nutrition for athletes. They supply vitamin recommendation to assist them enhance their athletic efficiency, energy, endurance, and muscle recovery. They could additionally recommend dietary supplements and educate their purchasers on easy methods to eat correctly earlier than and after coaching. Certified Sports Nutritionists may match with groups or particular person athletes. They could work in faculties, athletic departments, common {and professional} sports activities organizations, meals corporations, rehab facilities, or within the analysis discipline. (11)

Much like generalized vitamin, you’ll be able to turn out to be a sports activities dietitian or sports activities nutritionist. Registered dietitians can additional focus on sports activities dietetics and cross an examination to turn out to be a sports activities dietitian (CSSD). Licensed sports activities dietitians may work with athletes with medical situations and supply medical vitamin remedy. 

A sports nutritionist coaching a client.
Credit score: Gardinovachki / Shutterstock

You may turn out to be a sports activities nutritionist by getting a certification by way of health organizations like ISSA, ACE Health, NASM, NCSF, and Health Mentors. This can be useful for licensed private trainers trying to enhance their information and scope to assist their purchasers optimize their vitamin to raised attain their objectives—aggressive athletes and common inhabitants alike.

Licensed Intuitive Consuming Coach Counselor

The idea of intuitive eating comes from a e book referred to as Intuitive Consuming: A Revolutionary Anti-Eating regimen Strategy, written in 1995 by registered dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. (12) It’s meant to assist with “rebuilding a wholesome physique picture and making peace with meals” with out weight-reduction plan. Tribole and Resch outline it as a “self-care consuming framework, which integrates intuition, emotion, and rational thought.” (13) New editions with up to date proof and steerage have been revealed since.

Intuitive consuming is supposed that will help you take note of sensations in your physique that will help you eat to your organic and psychological wants whereas releasing you from ideas, beliefs, restrictions, and guidelines round meals. (13) It isn’t meant for weight reduction or managing medical situations. Bodybuilders may benefit from intuitive eating throughout their offseason to offer their minds and physique a break from competing. 

Two sorts of licensed counselors can educate intuitive consuming to their purchasers. Well being professionals can turn out to be Licensed Intuitive Consuming Coach Counselors, and non-health professionals can turn out to be Licensed Intuitive Consuming Lay Facilitators. Each sorts want to finish and cross Helm Publishing’s Self-Research Intuitive Consuming Course, full an Intuitive Consuming PRO Webinar, and full three supervision classes with the founders. (14)

[Read More: Nutrition for Athletes — How to Eat for Muscle and Performance]

To turn out to be a Licensed Intuitive Consuming Coach Counselor, you will need to have a bachelor’s diploma or larger and a certification or license in a associated discipline. Just a few fields embody registered dietitians, licensed nutritionists, certified personal trainers, licensed well being/wellness coaches, well being educators, psychologists, and social staff. (14)

Registered dietitian nutritionists and authorized nutritionists additionally might select to get an intuitive consuming teaching certification to additional focus on serving to purchasers study to hearken to their our bodies’ starvation and fullness cues and construct a greater relationship with meals.

Well being At Each Measurement (HAES)

The Affiliation for Measurement Range and Well being (ASDAH) is a non-profit group that promotes the Well being At Each Measurement (HAES) rules. HAES states that folks of all sizes deserve entry to healthcare. There’s a weight stigma that always prevents bigger folks from receiving high quality medical care and might find yourself making their situations worse. (15)

HAES is a weight-inclusive follow that believes in a holistic definition of well being or well being standing that shouldn’t be used to evaluate or discriminate towards any particular person. HAES goals to enhance public well being and look after all folks by acknowledging the load stigma and bias, whereas offering rules for well being professionals to look after sufferers of all sizes. 

[Read More: How Much Protein Do You Actually Need Per Day?]

HAES doesn’t promote weight reduction or weight management as a method to enhance somebody’s well being. They focus as a substitute on physique acceptance no matter measurement, intuitive consuming, and bodily exercise as an satisfying motion and never structured train meant to vary your physique. (16)

Beneath are the 5 rules of HAES. (15)

  1. Weight inclusivity: acceptance of all physique sizes and styles with out suggesting that larger weights will not be wholesome
  2. Well being enhancement: help well being insurance policies which are accessible to everybody to enhance bodily, economical, social, religious, and emotional well-being
  3. Consuming for well-being: selling individualized consuming kinds primarily based on starvation and satiety, dietary wants, and pleasure
  4. Respectful care: working to finish weight discrimination, stigma, and bias in well being care, understanding that socio-economic standing, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, and different identities affect weight stigma
  5. Life-enhancing motion: bodily actions which are satisfying and accessible to folks of all sizes and talents

Some research have proven that folks following HAES had been capable of enhance their metabolic well being (blood strain and blood sugar), enhance their energy expenditure, enhance their consuming conduct, and increase their shallowness and physique picture whereas lowering despair — all with out shedding any weight. (16) It’s necessary to notice that folks of all sizes are worthy of respect and care even when they can not enhance these well being markers—this can be a core issue of HAES. 

A person exercising in the gym with a personal trainer.
Credit score: StockLite / Shutterstock

[Read More: Best Treadmills For Streaming, Folding, Running, And More]

Registered dietitians, licensed nutritionists, and different well being professionals might take the HAES programs to include these rules into their practices. As of 2023, the curriculum is being redeveloped and expanded to incorporate the newest analysis on weight and well being. (17)

Wrapping Up

Dietitian or nutritionist, what’s the distinction? Registered dietitians are medical professionals who bear a number of regulated ranges of schooling and coaching after which turn out to be licensed by their states. Licensed nutritionist is a broad time period and never a license; nevertheless, you will get extra schooling, coaching, and board recognition as a nutritionist.

The primary distinction between the 2 is that RDs can diagnose and deal with folks with medical situations, and authorized nutritionists give attention to schooling about wholesome consuming. Different sorts of vitamin coaches, like intuitive consuming coaches and HAES suppliers can educate their purchasers on easy methods to enhance their relationship with meals exterior of weight and different bodily well being markers.

It’s at all times greatest to be particular on what you want to get out of steerage from a weight loss plan skilled and have a look at your supplier’s expertise and credentials. 

Incessantly Requested Questions

Let’s reply a number of frequent questions on these two sorts of vitamin professionals.

What’s the distinction between a nutritionist and a dietitian?

Registered dietitians are licensed medical professionals that cross a nationwide examination. Nutritionists obtain much less regulated certifications, and their ranges of schooling and expertise might fluctuate. RDs can diagnose and assist handle medical situations and supply medical vitamin remedy. Alternatively, nutritionists present schooling and well being teaching.

What are the similarities between a nutritionist and dietitian?

Each registered dietitians and authorized nutritionists are professionals that educate folks about wholesome consuming to enhance their general wellness and assist them attain their objectives. They each have some stage of schooling and coaching in vitamin and training.

What course is greatest to turn out to be a dietitian or nutritionist?

To turn out to be a registered dietitian, you will need to begin with a grasp’s diploma in vitamin or a associated discipline accredited by the Accreditation Council for Schooling in Vitamin and Dietetics (ACEND). Then full an internship and bear supervision. Afterward, you’ll must cross the Nationwide Fee on Dietetic Registration (CDR) examination and apply for a license in your state.

There are shorter on-line programs you’ll be able to take to shortly turn out to be a licensed nutritionist, they usually gained’t all require you to have a grasp’s diploma. Licensed private trainers might select to get vitamin certifications by way of their credentialing group. Try BarBend’s information to the best nutrition certifications and select from ISSA, NASM, NCSF, or Health Mentors.

Nevertheless, to turn out to be a board-certified nutritionist specialist, you will need to begin with a grasp’s diploma. Then full 35 hours of related coursework in vitamin and biochemistry accredited by the Accreditation Council for Vitamin Skilled Schooling (ACNPE), 1,000 hours of supervised follow, cross the Certification Examination for Vitamin Specialists, and full 5 case research.


  1. Academy of Vitamin and Dietetics. About RDNs and NDTRs.
  2. Ellis, E., MS, RDN, LDN (2022, March 28). How an RDN Can Assist with Diabetes. 
  3. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. Medical Vitamin Remedy. 
  4. Franz MJ. Proof-based medical vitamin remedy for diabetes. Nutr Clin Pract. 2004 Apr;19(2):137-44. 
  5. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Division of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Dietitians and Nutritionists.
  6. 2024 Graduate Diploma Requirement. Fee on Dietetic Registration.
  7. Tips on how to Turn out to be a Registered Dietitian (RD). Public Well being Levels. 
  8. American Vitamin Affiliation. Nutritionists & Well being Professionals Eligibility Necessities. Board for Certification of Vitamin Specialists. 
  9. Medical Vitamin Certification Board (CNCB). Certification Company. Medical Vitamin Certification Board.
  10. Medical Vitamin Certification Board (CNCB). Steps to Credentialing. Medical Vitamin Certification Board. 
  11. Koszyk, S., MA, RDN, & Dunn-Emke, S., MS, RDN. Tips on how to Turn out to be a Sports activities Nutritionist. Vitamin Jobs. 
  12. Tribole, E., & Resch, E. (2012). Intuitive consuming. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin.
  13. E. T. (2019, July 17). Definition of Intuitive Consuming. The Unique Intuitive Consuming Professionals. 
  14. Tips on how to Turn out to be a Licensed Intuitive Consuming Counselor or Lay Facilitator. The Unique Intuitive Consuming Professionals. 
  15. Affiliation for Measurement Range and Well being. Well being At Each Measurement® Ideas. ASDH.
  16. Penney TL, Kirk SF. The Well being at Each Measurement paradigm and weight problems: lacking empirical proof might assist push the reframing weight problems debate ahead. Am J Public Well being. 2015 Could;105(5):e38-42.
  17. Affiliation for Measurement Range and Well being. Well being At Each Measurement® Curriculum. ASDH.

Featured Picture: Prostock-studio / Shutterstock

Trending Merchandise

Add to compare
IRON °FLASK Sports Water Bottle – 32 Oz, 3 Lids (Straw Lid), Leak Proof, Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel, Double Walled…
Add to compare
Add to compare
Water Bottle Insulated 32oz 40oz 64oz 128oz Straw Lid Spout Lid & 3 Lids, Leak Proof, Vacuum Insulated,Stainless Steel…
Add to compare
Add to compare
Venture Pal Large 64 oz/Half Gallon Motivational Water Bottle with 2 Lids (Chug and Straw), Leakproof BPA Free Sports…
Add to compare
Add to compare
Coldest Sports Water Bottle with Straw Lid Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Metal Thermos Bottles Reusable Leak Proof…
Add to compare
Add to compare
H2 HYDROLOGY Adventure Water Bottle with 3 LIDS | Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Wide Mouth | Sports Hot…
Add to compare
Add to compare
H2 Hydrology Water Bottle – 18 oz, 22 oz, 32 oz, 40 oz, or 64 oz with 3 LIDS Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless…
Add to compare
Add to compare
COKTIK 32 oz Sports Water Bottle With Straw,3 Lids, Stainless Steel Vacuum Insulated Water Bottles,Leakproof Lightweight…
Add to compare
Add to compare
HYDRARANK Half Gallon Water Bottle with Straw and Chug Lid – 2.2L Gym Water Jug with Storage Sleeve and Handle – BPA…
Add to compare
Add to compare
JoyJolt Borosilicate Glass Water Bottle with Strap, Silicone Sleeve and Lid (Grey). 20oz Water Bottles. Reusable Water…
Add to compare

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Register New Account
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Shopping cart