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4 Best Routes for Nutrition Coach Certifications in 2021

This year, consider getting a nutrition coach certification to reach more clients and build more value around the services you offer. As a personal trainer without a nutritionist certification, you are limited in what you can offer to clients.

Often, clients want to lose weight and tone down. We all know that exercising consistently is half the battle of meeting those types of goals. If you aren’t certified in nutrition coaching, though, you could cross a very fine dangerous line when advising clients on what to eat and how to build those better nutrition habits.

We spoke about this a little bit in a previous article about nutrition coaching itself. Guidelines vary by state on what accreditations are necessary to give dietary advising and prescribing. While you consider what certification works best for you and your business, take the information we provided in this article to make sure you are careful about your nutritional advising.

So for those of you who have had this in the back of your mind, take this as a sign to get out there and get certified. Here are the top 4 routes for nutrition coach certifications to consider for 2021.

American Council on Exercise – ACE

Fitness Nutrition Specialist Certification

Through ACE, there are two NCCA accredited specialization courses for those looking to expand their knowledge and become a certified nutritionist. The ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist course first details how to shop healthy, how to build plans, and narrow the scope of your nutrition practice to best fit your fitness business.

After the business focus, the course hops into understanding nutrition labels, cooking healthy meals, and meeting clients at their nutritional needs.

It then teaches the psychology behind unhealthy eating habits and how to help clients break those down. This section of the course extends over two parts – one reading and the other a podcast.

This course is taught in three parts with supplemental reading assigned as well. This course uses ebooks, podcasts, online quizzes, and videos to teach the curriculum.

The second course is called Sports Nutrition for Health Professionals and it focuses on the science behind nutrition. This course uses only a manual and online quizzes.


ACE has a couple of hard-set requirements you must meet before becoming an ACE specialist in nutrition.

From ACE:

  • Hold a current professional certification in health education, fitness, wellness, or allied health that is accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA) or the International Organization for Standardization (ISO 17024)
  • Hold a current license as a healthcare professional


The ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist program costs $699 for the eBook and Hard Copy along with all the other course materials.

ACE Health and Wellness Coach Certification

The ACE Fitness Nutrition Specialist is an excellent addition to your knowledge base and professional development. Although, ACE also offers a robust Health and Wellness Coach Certification that specializes in habit coaching.

Nutritional guidance focuses on forming healthy habits around eating. This certification breaks down the psychology in-depth on how to help clients make real, lasting lifestyle changes.

The exam is 150 questions and can be retaken for $249 one year later if unable to pass on the first try. It’s recommended that you purchase a retake voucher when initially buying into the program. This voucher will allow you to register to retake the test sooner rather than later.

After receiving this certification, you will have to earn 20 hours of continuing education credits every two years to remain certified.


  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • CPR and AED certified
  • Present a current government-issued photo ID
  • Have an NCCA accredited certification in fitness, nutrition, healthcare, wellness, etc., or a degree in the healthcare/wellness field, or have worked in the field for at least 2 years.


  • Plus: $1,299 that comes with hard copies of the two required textbooks, 2 practice exams, 8 audio coaching sessions, and an audiobook
  • Basic: $999 that comes with one practice exam and 3 audio coaching sessions, and only digital copies of the textbooks.


The ISSA nutrition coach certification is another well-rounded option. The final exam is even available to take online and at home! No need to stress about registration and making it to the location.

ISSA takes focus on the psychology of eating habits to help you as a trainer better understand how to reach clients at their needs.

With any new venture for income, business development is a good portion of the battle.

ISSA also provides some helpful articles on how to segment yourself in the market of nutritional coaches and advisors. As trends in health and wellness grow, so does the competition. Understanding how to set your prices is important to stay competitive in this business.

Precision Nutrition offers a widely recognized certification in nutrition coaching. Now, ISSA has partnered with Precision Nutrition to offer a bundle that is hard to beat. You can get your Precision Nutrition certification while also earning your certification in personal training.

ISSA has a money-back guarantee if you do not find a job within 6 months of earning a certification.


  • ISSA Nutritionist Certification: $799
  • Precision Nutrition and certified personal trainer bundle: $1,799


AFPA is unique in its approach to offering multiple extensive curriculum options. If unsure what route to take to best supplement your health and fitness business, then you have quite a few options for starters and lots of information on each to digest.

AFPA provides an abundance of resources for narrowing down your specification to best fit your training style and practice. This way, you can stay focused on your training niche and better serve your target market.

AFPA also provides an online test and flexibility for your studying options.

Pricing is particular to the tier of certification you wish to receive and what scope of the nutritional curriculum you would like to focus on.

Multiple governing bodies accredit the programs that AFPA offers. Employers recognize the value of these robust nutrition coach certifications and will set you apart as a well-experienced candidate.

AFPA Nutrition Coach Certification Accreditation.
AFPA has multiple, high-standard accreditation for the courses they offer.


To build your knowledge and broaden your skills at your own pace, NASM is a good choice. The NASM nutrition coach certification will educate you on how to build nutrition science into your training as well as keep you in touch with the latest updates in nutrition science.

This is a great option for those who have already developed their fitness business and want to expand into nutrition coaching. The busybodies who feel like fitting in a bit of schooling is overwhelming will benefit from the self-paced learning and testing for the nutrition coach certification.

This certification is not accredited by any third-party organization, unlike AFPA and ACE. That is important to note when considering this option. Supplement your knowledge with this certification, but do not rely on this to become employed.

  • This certification requires renewal every two years.
  • This program costs $899 for all of the required materials and the exam.


You have plenty of options to choose from when you decide to dive into nutritional coaching. Rely on your training niche or goals to choose what path is best for you. Some certifications are better as a supplement to your professional career and others will help you get a kickstart to it.

If starting from scratch in the field of health and wellness, then consider ACE, ISSA, or AFPA. Those certifications offer valuable business and career development opportunities. If not starting fresh, then consider NASM or the Precision Nutrition certifications to grow your skillset and build the value of your services.

Better yet, do a little bit of research into your area to see where you can meet the needs of clients in your community. Get into Facebook groups and community forums to see what the demand is for nutritional coaching in your area.

If you liked this article, then check out the other good stuff we share here!

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