If you love health and fitness, you’ve probably tossed around the idea of becoming a nutrition coach.
Getting paid to share your love of nutrition with your community sounds like a dream job, right?
It can be, and nutrition coaching is a great way to impact those around you and create a meaningful career in the health and fitness industry.
So let’s look at what a nutrition coach does and how you can become one.
A nutrition coach is a guide that uses education and behavior change to help others achieve their health goals through their food choices. These coaches are typically found either in a gym setting or running their own coaching business.
“A nutrition coach is someone who understands that nutrition is not just about fueling your body, it's culture, it's social, it's health, it's sustainable, it's realistic, it's about removing limitations and its energy.” - OPEX Coach, Gino Goossens
(Want to learn more about what it’s like to be a nutrition and fitness coach? Sign up for our free coaching course here.)
At a glance, nutrition coaching seems very straightforward, but there is more to it than just recommending what to eat and what not to eat. So let’s take a look at the five things all successful nutrition coaches do.
First and foremost, all successful nutrition coaches are role models. These coaches love the art of nutrition, and they’ve integrated well-rounded nutrition practices into their daily lives.
Don’t be intimidated by this. These coaches aren’t perfect; they're humans, just like you and me. But they are continually striving to better themselves and learn by experimenting with their personal nutrition.
“As a coach we promote autonomous motivation through example and honesty.” - OPEX Coach, Gino Goossens
Nutrition coaches are lifelong learners. While they’ve mastered the fundamentals of nutrition coaching, through programs like this one, these coaches stay up to date with the latest news and research in their field.
Learning doesn’t end with reading papers. The best coaches surround themselves with other bright minds in their field to discuss the best practices and emerging trends.
The most important skill a nutrition coach possesses is the ability to observe. Successful coaches watch their clients like hawks before they speak or give any recommendations. They observe their client’s habits, listen to what they say, and notice their actions.
It’s easy to sit down with a client and give them a strict meal plan and spend an hour telling them what they “should do.” But the best coaches sit back and develop an understanding of their client’s motivations before they act.
The saying goes, “If you give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he will eat for a lifetime.”
The same is true for coaching. As a coach, your goal is to educate your clients on how to develop their own ability to make healthy choices. Instead of telling clients what to do, great coaches explain why certain behaviors are better than others.
Nutrition coaches know their scope and their local regulations. They have a team of doctors and dietitians surrounding them that they can refer clients out to when needed. To run an ethical coaching practice it is critical to know your scope
Lastly, nutrition coaches are catalysts for behavior change. They help clients make lasting changes in their life by pointing out areas in which they could improve. This is the part that most people think about when they think of a coach. But being a successful nutrition coach involves a lot more than just telling clients what to do.
So you’re thinking about becoming a nutrition coach. The good news is that there are many ways you can start coaching. The type of coach you want to become determines the education you need. So here the two most common education routes.
The first route is through the traditional education system. Here you study some form of nutritional science at a four-year-university in your undergraduate. Following this, you pursue further education as either a dietician or in another field such as nutritional science. You can either get a master's degree or work your way up to a doctoral degree in these fields.
This route will give you the credentials needed to work in a clinical setting such as a hospital, family clinic, or start your own coaching practice. The traditional education route will take the most amount of time and cost the most amount of money, but it is the most accredited route and the one that will provide the deepest technical knowledge.
The second route is to get a nutrition-specific coaching education from a third party institution, such as Precision Nutrition, Integrative Nutrition, and OPEX Fitness. This route is similar to a trade school. You will learn everything you need to coach nutrition effectively within your scope of practice and learn the skills you need to start your own coaching business.
This route is perfect for entrepreneurial-minded people who want to start their own coaching business or work inside of a large health and fitness facility. These programs will cost a lot less than traditional education and take a fraction of the time. However, while these courses have a myriad of accreditations, some clinical occupations will not accept them.
Lastly, you need to decide between a specific or a well-rounded education.
Nutrition is a powerful tool to help your clients change their lives. But it is only one tool.
We would argue that to have the greatest impact on your clients, you should have multiple tools at your disposal.
That’s why we offer our well-rounded coaching education. In The OPEX Coaching Certificate Program (CCP), we teach coaches how to change their clients’ lives for the better using both exercise and nutrition.
When combined, coaching both exercise and nutrition provides the most significant impact possible on your clients.
Sound interesting? Sign up for our free coaching course today and see what it’s like to be an exercise and nutrition coach.