Health Coach vs. Nutritionist, which is right for you?

This is how Health Coaches (black text) differ from Nutritionists:

Session Approach:

Largely client driven.

Usually initiated by a client's decision to make some type of life change.

Not diagnostic-emphasizes ongoing coaching plan to meet goals.

Dietary nutrition is the secondary focus.

Discusses non-food forms of nourishment such as spirituality, career, physical activity, relationships, and other lifestyle factors.


May or may not be client driven.

Usually initiated by doctor recommendation or prescription.

Diagnostic- treatment plans often regulated by insurance companies.

Dietary nutrition is the primary focus.

May discuss fitness but focuses on behaviours centred around food. 

Career Characteristics

New, emerging, quickly evolving profession tailored to address the healthcare crisis.

Forward thinking, holistic - combines traditional health concepts with both ancient and modern practices.

Science and experientially-based recommendations.

Little to no government or food industry influence. 


Founded on concepts established in 1917; slowly evolving.

Traditional, allopathic, medically established health concepts.

Science-based recommendations.

Strong government and food industry influence.


Trained on basic scientific concepts of metabolism with emphasis on whole foods and healthy lifestyle components, such as physical activity, career, relationships, and spirituality; trained to coach and hold clients accountable for lifestyle choices. 

Intensive one-year course, no undergraduate degree or national exam required to practice.


Trained in-depth on disease states, biochemistry, metabolism, and macro and micronutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Requires a bachelor’s degree and passing a national exam, in addition to a certification through a national body to practice.

Nutrition Theory

Focuses on whole foods; avoids breaking down foods to macro and micronutrient level.

May promote several different dietary theories - tailored to the needs of each unique client.


Focuses on macro (carbohydrates, protein, fat) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals)

Many diet plans based on one-size-fits-all government-developed guidelines.

Client Goal

In addition to specific goals, focuses on teaching clients to eventually be self-sufficient by learning to observe the body’s response to various lifestyle and dietary modifications and choosing healthy behaviours that work for them on their own.  


Usually specific goals, such as weight loss, blood glucose control, or blood pressure normalization, which often require ongoing guidance and maintenance.  

Which one is right for you?  At this moment?  Depends on your long term goal really.  

Are you looking for a quick fix (some people don’t have the luxury of time they are so far down the wrong path), or a sustainable lifelong wellness shift?


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