The 6 Best Nutrition Certifications of 2023 – Fitnessnacks

    If you’ve ever tried to get in shape, you know that nutrition can be one of the hardest disciplines to master, which is why nutrition coaching is a booming industry. If you have a passion for helping others improve their health and wellness, being a certified nutrition coach will enable you to help people turn this stumbling block into a stepping stone. But finding the right certification to get you started can be a daunting task.

    The nutrition certifications on this list are all well-respected and offer online study, test-taking, and certification. We chose only reputable certs from industry leaders so you can know that your investment will pay off in the long run and equip you to help your clients. The approaches and intended populations you’ll work with will vary depending on the certification you select, but there should be something for everyone on this list. These are the best nutrition certifications on the market with options for value, varied study materials, general fitness clients, and even nutrition for athletes.

    Best Nutrition Certifications

    Best Nutrition Certification Overall

    There are a variety of nutrition certifications that offer varying forms of learning materials, test difficulty, and specialization, but it can be hard to nail down the very best one. The ISSA Nutrition Certification wins out for its well-rounded curriculum, business skills course, and fair price. 

    ISSA Nutrition Certification

    The International Sports Sciences Association (ISSA) Nutrition Certification is intended to help you develop a well-rounded knowledge of nutritional strategies for your clients. You’ll learn a complete view of nutrition, from macros versus micronutrients to metabolism, energy balance, hydration, supplements, and even motivation strategies. Plus, having a nutrition degree isn’t necessary since the textbook starts with the basics and builds from there though if you do have one most of the info will likely be a refresher.

    ISSA Nutrition Certification

    ISSA Nutrition Certification

    The ISSA has been certifying people for decades and their nutrition certification is well-respected in the industry. It can prepare you to work with a diverse range of people, but focuses mainly on general population and improving overall wellness through nutrition.

    One thing that sets this certification apart from others is that it’s meant to give business and nutritional coaching skills. You’ll receive a free professional website along with a full library of client forms for when you become credentialed. Unlike many other certifications, you can retake the final exam once without paying a fee. We don’t anticipate you’ll have to retake the exam, though, thanks to the comprehensive practice exam and frequent section quizzes to focus your studies. 


    • There are a wide variety of study materials included (online textbook, videos, audio lectures, practice tests, etc.) for people who learn in different ways.
    • This cert teaches you not only nutrition information but also how to run a successful business.
    • You don’t need a background in nutrition to begin this certification; the information starts with the basics and builds up from there.


    • This cert is for working with the general public and gym-goers, not athletes or special populations.
    • If you already have a nutrition degree, the information here will be mostly a refresher. 

    The ISSA Nutrition Certification is designed to prepare you for the nutrition field as a well-rounded professional. It marries business and practices with nutrition information so you can hit the ground running after passing the final exam.

    Best Nutrition Certification for Sport Fitness Clients

    Athletes have different nutritional needs than the general population, but discerning precisely what those needs are can be tricky. A nutrition certification can help you prepare your clients to perform optimally when it’s time to compete, and the NASM Nutrition Certification has a thorough focus on nutrition for athletes.

    NASM Nutrition Certification 

    The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) follows strategies to optimize your clients’ performance through nutrition choices that focus on health and positive wellness-related outcomes. The Certified Nutrition Coach course arms you with the latest in evidence-based approaches to help your clients perform at their best. The ideas are broken down into 24 in-depth chapters written by leading experts in nutrition including information about testing.

    NASM Nutrition Certification 

    NASM Nutrition Certification 

    NASM’s nutrition certification provided a comprehensive pedagogical approach to maximizing your clients’ performance through precision nutrition. They cover all aspects of metabolism, hydration, energy systems, supplements, motivational strategies, and programming to make you a complete nutrition coach.

    You can access the course on any device (tablet, smartphone, or computer), allowing you to study at home, in a coffee shop, or in line at the DMV. NASM also provides high-end videos, interactive learning materials, progress quizzes, and audio lectures to help you learn in addition to the online textbook. Once you complete your studies, take the comprehensive practice exam and brush up on certain areas as needed, then you can take the certification exam. You have one full year of your purchase date to take the test, so you have ample time to study. This cert is well-respected in the industry and regularly costs around $899, though there are often deals and flexible payment plans.


    • This cert has more of a focus on athletes and active populations to optimize their performance through nutrition.
    • NASM allows you to take your time studying; you have one year to take the exam before it expires.
    • If you want to dive deeper into the nitty-gritty of the science behind nutrition, this course focuses on underlying theories in addition to practical knowledge. 


    • People looking to become credentialed more quickly may work better with a tighter schedule.
    • If you’re not into the science of nutrition and simply want actionable information for your clients, then this cert might be more in-depth than you need.

    Training athletes hard in the gym is only a part of the battle; optimizing their recovery and nutrition is needed to help athletes continue to perform at their highest levels. The NASM Certified Nutrition Coach course imparts the knowledge that may set you apart from other nutrition professionals when courting competitive clients.

    Best Nutrition Certification for the Money

    If you’re trying to earn a nutrition certification to start a side hustle or to fortify your training credentials, opting for a more cost-effective one might be a good idea. The NCSF Fitness Nutrition Certification provides great knowledge to improve your expertise at an affordable price.

    NCSF Fitness Nutrition Certification

    Some nutrition certifications can cost more than a thousand dollars. The NCSF Fitness Nutrition Certification costs a fraction of that, with options starting as low as around $349 (about $32 per month with a payment plan), so you can become credentialed without spending a small fortune. Cost-effective doesn’t equate with low quality, however. The NCSF cert provides extensive nutrition knowledge on a wide range of topics like enhancing athletic performance, balancing weight and activity, supplements, nutrient timing, hydration, and more. 

    NCSF Fitness Nutrition Certification

    NCSF Fitness Nutrition Certification

    This nutrition certification is directed at preparing you to coach people in the fitness realm more so than sedentary individuals but it still provides a robust course path to learn all aspects of nutrition. It’s also very cost-effective making it great for people who are looking to pad their coaching credentials or cautiously venture into nutrition coaching without diving in headlong.

    Even the most basic program NCSF offers includes a variety of study options. In addition to the digital textbook, you can utilize instructional videos and review quizzes to highlight where your knowledge is solid and where you need to brush up, while Instructor support can help clarify complex concepts. The program is self-paced, so you can learn as quickly or slowly as you prefer, though NCSF states that the typical completion time is around two to four months.


    • The cost-effective price of this certification is great for people who want to add to their training resume or test the waters of being a nutrition coach.
    • Thanks to the self-paced system that NCSF uses, you can learn at your own pace
    • If you’re a value shopper, then it’s hard to beat this cert for the price. Inclusions like videos, quizzes, an online textbook, instructor support, and more are usually reserved for more expensive programs.


    • This cert covers mainly practical and applied knowledge. If you’re interested in learning more about nutrition theory and the underlying mechanism of action, we suggest looking elsewhere. 
    • This course is often presented as a compliment to the NCSF personal trainer or strength coach certification, so you may be tempted to purchase a combo package that will increase the price considerably.

    The basic nutrition certification on its own is a great value. The learning tools that are included, especially considering the price, are impressive. It’s also comforting that you won’t be on a strict timeline, so you can learn at your own pace.

    Best Nutrition Certification for Study Materials

    Everyone learns differently, and having many approaches to presenting information can be invaluable to anyone wanting to successfully complete a certification. Regardless of whether you prefer to listen to lectures, watch videos, or read on your own, the ISSA Nutrition Certification has a way for you to digest information.

    ISSA Nutrition Certification

    When it comes to learning, everyone has their own preferred style of retaining new information. The ISSA recognizes that and has a plethora of ways to absorb the information in this cert. If you’re more of a visual learner, the high-quality instructional videos might be for you. People who prefer peer-to-peer learning can benefit from the online student forum and nutritionist education bootcamp. Prefer reading or listening? Audio lectures and an included online textbook can accommodate you. 

    ISSA Nutrition Certification

    ISSA Nutrition Certification

    The ISSA has been certifying people for decades and their nutrition certification is well-respected in the industry. It can prepare you to work with a diverse range of people, but focuses mainly on general population and improving overall wellness through nutrition.

    Those who need a more personal touch can access unlimited educational support with on-staff professors to guide them. No matter how you learn, the practice exam and section quizzes can help you track your progress and prepare for the final exam. You’ll receive support even after you’ve passed the exam with a free professional website and a library of client forms. 


    • This cert caters to your preferred learning style, whether it be audio, visual, reading/writing, or a combination of them.
    • In addition to the nutrition information, you’ll learn basic business skills with this certification. 
    • The included client onboarding docs and free professional website can be a very helpful starting point to launch your new career.


    • This cert is more aimed toward working with regular gym-goers than athletes, so if that’s your goal, you may want a sports nutrition certification instead.
    • People may not make use of all of the ways of learning or feel obligated to use all of the different learning options.

    Not everyone wants to sit and listen to a lecture; some prefer videos or study groups. The diverse array of learning approaches the ISSA offers helps to ensure that everyone can retain the information presented and achieve their goal of becoming certified. 

    Best Nutrition Certification for Program Building

    Building out programs and long-term nutrition programs can be overwhelming without the proper training. The NASM Nutrition Certification tackles how to design and implement a well-developed nutrition program so you can provide detailed nutrition regimens for your clients to follow.

    NASM Nutrition Certification

    Creating effective nutrition programs can be one of the most challenging aspects for a nutrition coach. It’s the culmination of all of your knowledge regarding energy balance, micronutrient intake, nutrient timing, and energy systems. The NASM nutrition certification program prepares you for this by providing 24 in-depth chapters on a digital learning platform with comprehensive nutrition information. Program building merges theory and practice together, and with this cert, you learn both. 

    NASM Nutrition Certification 

    NASM Nutrition Certification 

    NASM’s nutrition certification provided a comprehensive pedagogical approach to maximizing your clients’ performance through precision nutrition. They cover all aspects of metabolism, hydration, energy systems, supplements, motivational strategies, and programming to make you a complete nutrition coach.

    Chapters one through 13 teach you all about nutritional science; chapters 14 through 17 cover strategies to help your clients stick to the plan; chapters 18 through 23 teach you how to apply it and revolve around nutrition coaching and assessment. The final chapter is where you put it all together in practice and learn a step-by-step process to build nutrition programs. NASM charges about $899 for the full certification package.


    • This comprehensive course covers everything from theory to motivation and the application of nutrition strategies.
    • If you want to learn how to program nutrition utilizing evidence-based approaches to nutritional science and behavior psychology, this is the course for you. 
    • People who want to work with athletes will like the detailed information about performance nutrition and program-building.


    • Because of the density of the information provided, this course may take longer than others to complete.
    • There are more cost-effective nutrition certifications out there.

    Effective program building is the crowning achievement for nutrition coaches and the hallmark of a proficient coach. If you want to become adept at it, this cert works toward putting your knowledge into practice with a well-rounded nutrition curriculum.

    Best Nutrition Certification for General Fitness Clients

    If you’re interested in taking on clients that reflect the average fitness enthusiast, then this certification is the way to go. The Fitness Mentors Nutrition Certification is a solid bet because the information is more streamlined and doesn’t take detours to present ideas you will likely not use with your chosen clientele. 

    Fitness Mentors Nutrition Certification

    The age-old adage that you can’t out-train a bad diet still, unfortunately, holds true. Exercise is, of course, an important part of health, but it isn’t the only important aspect of it. This cert takes a holistic approach to well-being through nutrition, whether you want to help your clients lose fat, bulk up, or maintain their current state of fitness. 

    Fitness Mentos Nutrition Certification

    Fitness Mentos Nutrition Certification

    Fitness Mentors takes a holistic approach to health and incorporates nutrition along with lifestyle modifications to help your clients potentially make lasting and impactful changes. This cert puts a focus on knowledge that’s applicable to the widest range of the general population when you’re coaching.

    The information presented in this course is widely applicable. By the end of it, you’ll understand each of the macronutrients intimately. You’ll also learn how to perform nutrition assessments and coach nutrition. The final chapter is a primer on exercise and sports nutrition, but most of the course is focused on coaching everyday people and helping them achieve their goals while improving their health. 


    • Your potential clientele base is wide; this cert prepares you to work with a wide swathe of the population rather than focusing too narrowly on one demographic.
    • If you don’t have a nutrition background, this is a great way to learn the basics and hone your skills, even if you aspire to coach athletes.
    • This certification is shorter and potentially quicker to complete than some others due to the general nature and lack of intense specialization.


    • This doesn’t adequately prepare you for the different needs of athletes and other factors that need to be considered when coaching them.
    • Anyone who wants more in-depth knowledge of nutrition theories and the body’s inner workings may want to complete a more comprehensive cert.

    The Fitness Mentors Nutrition Certifications help you to understand and communicate a well-rounded and holistic approach to nutrition. You won’t be as qualified to work with elite athletes but can cater to the general population, folks looking to lose fat, build muscles and feel better. 

    Benefits of Having a Nutrition Certification

    If you’re interested in becoming a nutrition coach, you’ll (likely) need to be credentialed to work at any reputable establishment. Plus, it’ll give you plenty of credibility if you work independently. The certs on this list let potential employers and clients know that you’ve put in the work to learn your craft and that you have a grasp of the foundations of nutrition. Many of the courses also teach you how to run a nutrition business and maintain healthy relationships with your clients, which is necessary for long-term career growth.


    Clients will want to know that you’re a credible coach and are certified by a legitimate organization. This builds an instant feeling in potential clients that you are up to date on the latest nutrition science and have the know-how to help them achieve their goals. Having a certification from this list is a great way to convey that you know what you’re doing. 

    Nutrition Knowledge

    It is true that anyone can write a meal plan, but the safety and effectiveness of it is a different question entirely. Owning a garden hose doesn’t make you a firefighter, and a six-pack doesn’t qualify you to dole out effective and sustainable nutrition advice.

    Nutrition certifications impart the knowledge that you need to assess clients, understand nutrition in a way that applies to coaching others, and build a program for them based on their aspirations.

    Professionalism and Fostering Relationships

    While credibility is a bedrock foundation for building client relationships, professionalism builds on that foundation. You can be credible and have the knowledge to back it up, but if you’re unprofessional and don’t actively work to cultivate rapport with your clients, you’ll soon be left without anyone to coach. Many nutrition certifications provide you with the tools you need to build a business, act professionally, and create positive client interactions so you can set yourself up for continued success.

    How We Chose the Best Nutrition Certifications

    The organization that you choose for your nutrition certification can have a massive impact on your career trajectory and competency as a nutrition professional. That’s why we took such care when choosing the best certs to include on this list. We used a few key factors to choose like the cost, education provided, study materials, and post-certification support when making our choices.


    Nutrition certifications can be expensive, and even the relatively cost-effective ones cost several hundred dollars. That said, every option on this list offers the choice to pay up-front or split the payments up over a few months to soften the blow while you work toward your new certification. We only included certifications that are worth the money and will command respect when they show up on a resume. Some may be more expensive than others, but they’re all worth their price tags — it just depends on what you can pay and what you’re looking to gain from the certification.


    Obviously, the whole point of a certification is to become an expert in the subject and show that you have intimate knowledge of the field. All of the certifications on this list provide quality education in nutrition, but they may have different content emphases. While the basics are all the same, some certs on this list are more directed at people who want to work with the general population while others are more dedicated to coaching athletes and programming. We provided an array of different areas of expertise, so there’s something for everyone no matter your end goal.

    Study Materials

    While all of the certs on this list provide access to an online textbook, they vary in what supporting content is provided and at what cost. We prioritized the certifications that provided access to the most diverse array of study materials without an extra fee since everyone learns differently — having multiple approaches to learning may help retain information more effectively.

    Post-Certification Support

    No one wants to feel like they’ve been left out in the cold once the certification process is complete. Many credentialing organizations offer support after you’ve been certified to help you make headway in the nutrition field. Some common support systems provided include professional website building, career placement, client forms, and other career resources. A few organizations even bake business sections into the course content, so you’re better prepared to make a splash after you’re certified.

    How Much Do Nutrition Certifications Cost?

    Nutrition certifications are often cheaper than other certs like personal trainer certifications, but they’re still a costly investment. However, most offer the option to break your payments down into monthly installments, which may be a good option for people who are just starting out or can’t afford to drop all that cash at once.

    Best Nutrition Certification Overall ISSA Nutrition Certification $799
    Best Nutrition Certification for Sport Fitness Clients NASM Nutrition Certification $899
    Best Nutrition Certification for the Money NCSF Nutrition Certification Starting at $349
    Best Nutrition Certification for Study Materials ISSA Nutrition Certification $799
    Best Nutrition Certification for Program Building NASM Nutrition Certification $899
    Best Nutrition Certification for General Fitness Clients Fitness Mentors Nutrition Certification $499

    On the lower end of the cost spectrum, nutrition certifications can cost around $350, but prices can increase up to around $900 for the cert. If you purchase certification packages that offer credentials for multiple fields, you can spend even more — sometimes over a thousand dollars. There’s usually a discount for buying multiple certifications at once, so if you can swing it, those bundles may be worthwhile.

    What to Consider Before Buying a Nutrition Certification

    A nutrition certification is the foundation of a career in nutrition coaching. Selecting the right cert for you is similar to picking a college or trade school to attend, and it requires the same careful consideration. Here are the biggest factors to consider when looking through the options.

    Study Materials

    First and foremost, you need to learn the material, not just to pass the exam but also to be an effective nutrition coach. That’s why it’s so important to think about your learning style and which certification organizations cater to that style. 

    Essentially all certifications will include some sort of textbook and course guide to help you navigate the material. Others will include video lessons of varying quality and type — some more engaging than others. Audio lectures can be helpful for more passive learning when you’re driving or working out. If you work best in a group, peer learning is also available from some organizations through online forums and groups. Look at all of the study materials available and make sure they line up with how you best absorb information before purchasing a certification program.

    Certification Focus

    Every certification differs in some way regarding its emphasis. Do you want to work with everyday people and gym-goers? Perhaps your end goal is to be the nutrition coach for high-level athletes. Maybe you prefer to work with special populations who need additional support and considerations in their nutrition. There’s a cert for that.

    Taking a look at the textbook and course materials will often allow you to glean insight into the population the course will best prepare you to coach. You can decide from there if it fits with your goals and intended career path.

    After-Program Support

    Once you finally complete your certification, you may be left wondering how to get your career off the ground. Some organizations have a support system in place to help prepare you for the portion of your career where the rubber meets the road. This can include offering client forms, setting you up with a website, or even job placements to help you on your way.


    Not all nutrition certifications are made the same. While the ones on this list are all highly reputable from well-recognized organizations, there are some out there that don’t have the same standards and quality teaching. If you plan to purchase a nutrition certification program from outside of this list, it’s usually a good idea to do your research and ensure that they’re a trusted name in the fitness industry.

    Final Word

    Nutrition certifications can take different approaches to provide you with the information and expertise you need to be a competent and successful coach. Through them, you’ll learn about how the body metabolizes food and puts it to work, the differences in macronutrients and micronutrients, client assessment, and more. All of this goes to build your confidence and ability to help your clients achieve their health and wellness goals.

    One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to certifications, though, and there are a variety of different populations that they can focus on. Different certifications also have varied learning platforms and study materials. Think about what is best for your career aspirations and learning style, and use this list as a guide to finding the ideal cert to help you start building and serving your clientele. 


    How much do nutrition certifications cost?

    Nutrition certifications can range in price from a few hundred dollars to nearly a thousand. There are discounts when paired with other certs like personal trainer certifications, so putting together a bundle of certifications may be worth it in the long run.

    What is the best nutrition certification?

    There are a bunch of different options to choose from depending on what population you want to work with, how much you want to spend, and your preferred learning style. Our favorite nutrition cert at the moment is the ISSA Nutrition Certification, thanks to the variety of learning materials, well-rounded knowledge it provides, and moderate price.

    How much can I make with a nutrition certification?

    The average national salary for nutrition coaches is around $43,609. (1) But the salary for nutrition coaches can range widely, from some people working it as a side hustle to celebrity nutrition coaches pulling in six figures annually.



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