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What Does a Nutritionist Degree Really Mean? Learn the Facts

Author: Cecilia Snyder, MS, RD

Before getting started on your own weight loss journey, or on any type of journey to be honest, it’s never a bad idea to evaluate what kinds of tools and resources you’re going to have available to help you along the way. Maybe you’re considering logging your meals, getting started with a meal prep kit, or finding a group of peers that you can rely on. But one valuable resource that often gets overlooked is professional support. 

Here’s the truth about a weight loss journey… it will be hard. You will feel like giving up at times. There will be moments when you feel lost and unsure of which direction to go in next. There’s just no getting around it on a journey like this. So these are the times when it’s nice to have someone by your side that you can trust to help you find your way again. 

When it comes to weight loss and health, you might find yourself wondering if maybe a nutritionist could be the right type of professional to provide that type of support. But what exactly is a nutritionist? How much does it cost to work with one? Do they have a degree? And are they really the best type of professional to support you on your weight loss journey? 

Let’s dig deeper into these questions to find out…  

Here’s the lowdown on a nutritionist degree:

Generally speaking, a nutritionist describes someone that is knowledgeable in the topic of nutrition and comfortable educating clients on health, wellness, and food-related behaviors. Typically, nutritionists have earned some type of degree in a related field, but it’s important to note that it’s not necessarily always the case. Technically, the exact definition of a nutritionist and who can refer to themselves as one can vary some from state to state. 

Whereas some states might require that a professional obtain a license before referring to themselves as a nutritionist, other states have no regulations around the professional term nutritionist, and therefore just about anybody can refer to themselves as one. However, that definitely doesn’t mean that nutritionists can’t be trusted or provide quality care. 

Different nutritionist credentials

Rather than grouping all nutritionists into one category, it’s important to look at each nutritionist individually to evaluate their education, their particular knowledge base, and their background in the field of nutrition. One thing to note about professionals with a nutritionist degree is that various degrees specialize in specific areas of the nutrition field. Here are a few examples of:

  • Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS): CNS nutritionists specialize in general nutrition and their credential requires that practitioners complete a graduate degree in nutrition, 1000 hours of supervised practice, and that they pass a certification exam. 
  • Registered Dietitian (RD): In order to earn the RD credential and be recognized as an expert in food and clinical dietetics, practitioners must earn a bachelor’s degree in nutrition from an accredited university, complete between 900 and 1200 hours of supervised practice, and pass the national registration exam. 
  • Naturopathic Doctor (ND): NDs utilize a variety of holistic therapies including nutrition in order to promote optimal health while treating and preventing disease. Any practitioner using the ND credential has completed a four-year program at a naturopathic medical school in addition to passing a comprehensive exam.
  • Traditional Naturopathic Practitioner (TNP): A certified TNP has typically completed coursework in topics like nutrition, herbology, homeopathy and more. Whereas other nutritionists might focus on using nutrition to treat disease, TNPs typically focus on prevention and education. 

As you can see, nutritionists often complete rigorous degree programs and a ton of supervised practice in the field before they ever start working with clients of their own. But does this mean that someone with a nutritionist degree is always the best choice of professional to work with on a weight loss journey?

Is working with a professional that has a nutrition degree really necessary for weight loss?

Here’s the thing about weight loss… as important as nutrition is to health and weight, it’s not the only factor worth considering. Instead, it’s important to approach your weight loss journey from a well-rounded perspective that also takes things like physical activity, behavior change, sleep and stress into consideration. 

So while a nutritionist might be the right choice to help with the nutrition piece, they might not have all of the knowledge and skills needed to address some of the other factors coming in to play on your weight loss journey. 

Plus, working with a nutritionist isn’t always the most affordable option! Depending on your health insurance plan and the type of nutritionist that you decide to work with, you could be paying up to $200 for a single visit. 

Sound like more than you might be willing to spend in order to find support on your weight loss journey? Don’t worry! There are more affordable options out there that provide all of the professional support that you’ll need on your weight loss journey and more. Like Noom, for example

Here’s the scoop on the professional support at Noom!

Noom works really hard to make sure that the team is not only made up of practitioners with nutritionist degrees, but instead the team that you’ll work with includes a variety of experts in all types of health-related fields: nutrition, exercise science, public health, social work, psychology, counseling, behavior change, and more! That way, we can feel confident knowing that more of your needs are being met through the Noom app, and that we are supporting a well-rounded approach to weight loss.   

It doesn’t stop there though. Not only is the Noom team full of health experts, but the best part is… you’ll be assigned to one of these experts as your very own health coach to help guide you through your weight loss journey and support you along the way. Your coach is there to help boost your motivation when you’re feeling, answer all of your burning questions about the Noom Food Database that you’ll use to log meals in the app, and to celebrate your successes along the way. 

Want to get started working with your very own support team? Sign up for Noom today!