What is the Difference Between a Nutrition Coach and a Wellness Coach?

Nutrition and Wellness Coach work with clients to establish sustainable behavior change around food and eating habits. They may be personal trainers, yoga or Pilates instructors, chiropractors or mental health professionals seeking to expand their horizons with nutrition coaching certification.

Nutrition coaches have less credentialing than dietitians, who have four-year degrees and are registered. Always check the laws in your area on what you can and cannot call yourself.

What is a Nutrition Coach?

Nutrition coaches are trained to help people optimize their eating habits and behaviors for health and weight loss. They are skilled in creating and implementing healthy, sustainable habits that support a variety of dietary goals and can work with a range of clients, from athletes to individuals suffering from medical conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure.

While there is a lot of science behind nutrition coaching, the art comes in helping clients consistently take action to create lasting behavior change. This is what separates the good nutrition coaches from the great ones. It is what makes it possible for them to break down big goals, like losing weight, into manageable chunks and overcome obstacles such as a junk food-loving family or that dead-tired feeling that drives people to order takeout instead of cooking.

Most nutrition coaches work on their own, either full-time or as a side hustle to their primary career. They may also find themselves working with a wellness practice, a medical clinic or hospital, in an educational setting (creating meal plans for students) or even in corporate settings.

While many nutrition coaches come to their profession from a background in fitness, they can have diverse backgrounds that include a degree in nursing, healthcare or a career in the food industry. In general, health and wellness coaches are self-motivated and want to make a difference in the lives of others. They tend to be more holistic in their approach, often focusing on the whole person rather than just their diet and dietary needs. For example, they might work with clients on mental and spiritual nutrition as well. They could use tools like Transformational Nutrition Health Assessments to guide their client's healing journey.

What is a Wellness Coach?

If you love nutrition and want to help people improve their diets, it’s important to understand the different paths to becoming a health coach, a nutritionist or dietitian. Each option has pros and cons and each will impact how you work with clients. Ultimately, it’s about choosing a path that fits your own vision for your career and the types of clients you want to serve.

A health and wellness coach takes a more holistic approach to helping a client change their lifestyle. They take into consideration a person’s diet, exercise routine, sleep habits, stress levels and other factors that may be contributing to their overall health. They also help clients establish a healthy mindset and support them in building the courage and motivation to change their behavior.

For example, let’s say a client is struggling with emotional eating. A health and wellness coach would work with them to come up with other behaviors they can use when they start feeling stressed to curb the urge to eat. This could include going for a walk, calling a friend or taking some time to meditate.

Wellness coaches often have a background in psychology, health sciences or dietetics. They may be working in a private practice or alongside a physician in a group medical setting or wellness center. They may also choose to narrow their area of expertise and work with specific populations like young moms looking for ways to carve out some “me time” or college athletes trying to improve their recovery routines. The common thread is that they’ve received training in client-centered health education, behavior change science and motivational strategies. In addition, they have a passion for inspiring positive change in their clients.

What is the Difference Between the Two?

While nutrition and wellness coaches may have some similarities, they also have different areas of expertise. It’s important to understand these differences so that you can make the best career choice for your needs and interests.

Many people choose to become a health and wellness coach or nutritionist for a variety of reasons. Some want to be their own boss and work from home, while others are interested in helping to change the world by making a difference in other people’s lives. Whatever the reason, there is one thing that is consistent among all nutrition and wellness coaches: they care about their clients and are passionate about helping them live healthier lives.

The main difference between a nutrition coach and a wellness coach is that a nutrition coach’s coaching responsibilities only focus on nutritional behavior change. This is a much more specialized field than that of a health coach, as it includes different aspects like relationships and beliefs in order to help their clients achieve positive behavioral changes toward diet and nutrition.

A wellness coach on the other hand, focuses more on general well-being. This can include emotional, mental and spiritual wellness as well as physical wellbeing. This can be a more holistic approach to overall wellness than that of a nutrition coach, although there is some overlap between the two.

The other difference between a nutrition coach and a health coach is that a nutrition coach requires more training than a wellness coach. In order to earn a nutrition coach certification, you will need to complete a comprehensive course that covers the complexities of nutrition science and also includes the skills of coaching and behavior change. For example, AFPA’s nutrition coach program provides you with a robust education in all of the science behind diet and food as well as practical coaching skills to support your success.

What is the Role of a Nutrition Coach?

Generally, nutrition coaches are focused on supporting clients toward dietary goals. They work in this space because they know that achieving lasting behavior change in the kitchen isn’t as easy as it sounds. This is why they focus on the whole person and provide them with everything they need to achieve success.

They’ll assess their client to gather important data and help them figure out a plan of attack to make sustainable changes that they can stick with. They use this information to develop a customized approach that aligns with their client’s values, needs and lifestyle. They’ll also teach their clients skills that are essential for implementing lasting change, like mindful eating and how to read labels.

Nutritionists are a bit different than health coaches because they have a deeper knowledge of how food affects people’s bodies and health. They’re highly trained in macronutrients and micronutrients, nutrient deficiencies and more.

As a result, nutritionists can offer more in-depth and targeted dietary advice. They can also reduce the risk of specific diseases, including diabetes and heart disease, by helping their clients eat a diet that will promote optimal wellness.

While nutrition coaches and nutritionists play a critical role in promoting healthy lifestyles, they’re not medical professionals and cannot diagnose or treat diseases. They can however, work in conjunction with healthcare practitioners by providing guidance and support. In cases where further attention is needed, they refer their clients to a registered dietitian or other healthcare practitioner.

What is the Role of a Wellness Coach?

A wellness coach helps clients improve overall well-being by addressing a range of personal elements. They focus on developing strategies to help clients establish exemplary health goals that include all aspects of wellness. Unlike other fitness or nutrition professionals who may make specific diet or exercise suggestions, wellness coaches will help their clients understand the science behind behaviors that lead to holistic wellness and wellbeing.

They will teach clients how to eat in ways that fit their unique lifestyle, and help them to develop healthy habits that are sustainable. They will also work with clients to address underlying issues that may be contributing to their unhealthful eating patterns, such as emotional or stress eating.

A good wellness coach will use a variety of methods to support their clients, including one-on-one sessions, online tools and group coaching sessions. They will also ask their clients to complete "homework" between sessions so that they can demonstrate their progress towards their wellbeing goals.

Wellness coaches are hired by a wide range of people, from personal trainers and yoga instructors to chiropractors and mental health professionals. They may also be registered dietitians or physicians who wish to expand their services to offer nutrition and wellness coaching to their clients.

For those interested in a career as a wellness or nutrition coach, AFPA offers an introductory certification program. Many of our graduates go on to pursue advanced education in nutrition or wellness coaching and combine their dual skillsets to offer more comprehensive client support. This expanded perspective can be particularly beneficial for clients with interconnected health and wellness challenges. It can also enhance job satisfaction by increasing the number of clients a wellness coach can serve in a given time period.

Nutrition and Wellness Coach work with clients to establish sustainable behavior change around food and eating habits. They may be personal trainers, yoga or Pilates instructors, chiropractors or mental health professionals seeking to expand their horizons with nutrition coaching certification. Nutrition coaches have less credentialing than dietitians, who have four-year degrees and are registered. Always check…