One of the few questions that is most commonly asked by the health coaches and nutritionist is what the difference between the two is: in other words “how are they different from each other?”
Before we establish and define the difference between health coach and nutritionist, let’s first look at some of the basic and universally accepted facts about nutrition.
Nutrition is a Science
This means that nutrition is not just about food or diet, in fact it is a complete and comprehensive science that is concerned with what to eat and what foods to choose from for a healthy life
Nutrition is a Combination
Yes that is right. Nutrition is a combination of several types of science combined into one: physiology, biology and anatomy. Since all these functions are associated and related to the body, together they make up the science called nutrition.
Nutrition Affects Health
This is one of the most commonly established facts: nutrition has a direct impact on the health and well-being of the individual. That is because nutrition has to do a lot with maintaining health of the person.
What is the Difference Between Health Coach and Nutritionist?
First of all there are some similarities between a health coach and nutritionist. Both need to have an educational degree in health sciences to be able to practice. As a result, both deal with nutrition and both practice for prescribing diet and health plans.
There are a few differences between the two:
A registered health coach is different from a nutritionist in education. A health coach has an equivalent of a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics.
In addition, he has to complete a year-long accredited nutrition and dietetic and has to pass a national examination. But in comparison to nutritionist, a health coach is required to have less educational degrees.
A nutritionist on the other hand studies deep into nutrition, often spending 2-4 years of intense education, earning accredited degrees from educational institutes to be able to practice in the field of nutrition.
In addition, he has to study all the areas of medical science, including physiology and anatomy, whereas a health care studies the surface areas of nutrition subjects only.
A health coach needs to have an experience of approximately 9 months to one year to be able to practice in his field. A nutritionist, in contrast, should have almost 2-3 years of experience.
A nutritionist also undergoes intensive training of more than 1 year in nutrition and healthcare. It is due to this experience that nutritionists have more knowledge of medical science and can prescribe a diet plan for healthy living.
One of the major differences between a health coach and a nutritionist is the diagnosis that they do. As mentioned above, a health coach only covers and studies surface area of the medical and nutrition field whereas a nutrition undergoes intensive experience and has an in-depth knowledge of diet and nutrition.
As a result, a health coach is not allowed to diagnose a patient and cannot prescribe specific dietary recommendations and plans. On the other hand, due to the extensive knowledge and experience of nutritionist, he can carry out tests and prescribe a diet plan for health of the individual.
A health coach practices on his individual basis, with many of the health coaches in the nutrition business as freelance basis. A nutritionist, on the other hand, adopts this nutrition planning and prescribing as a profession, often taking up his full time and attention.
One very important difference between a nutritionist and a health coach is the coverage of insurance. A health coach is not covered by medical insurance whereas a nutritionist is fully covered, and enjoys the benefits of medical insurance.
An important point to note here is that not ALL nutritionists have the benefit of medical insurance, only the certified nutritional counselors have that privilege.
As can be seen from our discussion, there are some differences between a health coach and nutritionist that have to do with how they prescribe diet plans and their area of education and expertise.
However, both of them share some common characteristics that have a lot to do with one word: nutrition. They both are medical experts who have ample knowledge about nutrition and as a result are responsible for steering the people towards health, a beneficial diet and a healthy lifestyle.
So next time you are looking for some good advice about nutrition or want a diet plan, you can visit a nutritionist for giving you a diet plan, or you can simply discuss what you should eat with your health coach—they both have the ability to work towards giving you a healthy lifestyle.