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The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) is an NCCA-accredited organization that provides fitness and wellness education to aspiring and established personal trainers and coaches. NASM offers a swath of courses, from the staple Certified Personal Trainer Course, to specialty courses such as a Home Gym Design Course, which we previously reviewed.
NASM is a leading organization in the fitness industry, and I put my knowledge to the test to bring you this NASM nutrition certification review.
Why You Should Trust Us
I personally took this course from start to finish as an opportunity to earn continuing education credits to retain my personal training certification. I specify that to show you I took the course seriously, despite already having nutrition credentials. Because I’ve taken nutrition courses in the past, including college-level classes, I was able to make comparisons between the content delivered in the NASM course and the content I’ve learned in other environments.
NASM Certified Nutrition Coach Course
This course is a comprehensive guide to nutrition for coaches. It covers the basics of nutrition science, including the science of food groups, food groups, and food groups. It also dives into the science of food cravings, food groups, and food groups. The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) is a leading science-based organization in the fitness industry, having credentialed thousands of fitness and wellness professionals. The NASM Certified Nutrition Coach program is a self-paced, completely online nutrition course that prepares students to coach individuals in a variety of nutrition pursuits. Upon completing the course, students should feel prepared to help clients with weight loss, weight maintenance, muscle growth, fitness and sports performance, and general healthy eating habits.
A Quick Look at the NASM Nutrition Coach Certification
The NASM nutrition coach certification course covers all of the basics of nutrition science one would need to know in order to provide sound nutritional advice to a variety of populations. In addition to covering the hard-and-fast science of nutrition, the course also dives into soft skills that coaches need to be successful: communication, interviewing, listening, motivating, and more.
The course is completely self-paced. NASM claims students can finish the course in as little as six weeks, but with a full-time job and other commitments, it took me about 16 weeks (four months). When you invest in the course, you have up to one year to complete it and take the final exam
- Dedicate a predetermined amount of time per day or per week to study. This way, you’ll finish the course in a timely manner.
- Take notes as you go through the course. There are quizzes at the end of each section to test your knowledge on the chapter.
- Make notecards for equations, definitions, and key terms throughout the course.
My Favorite Things:
- All online format
- Completely self-paced
- Easy to navigate the course portal
- This course doesn’t come with a paper textbook
- There’s no real accountability; self-driven people will get the most out of this course
Is the NASM Nutrition Coach Course Worth It?
At $899, most would consider the NASM nutrition coach course a pricey investment. However, for the right people, the course is 100% worth it. Anyone looking to gain in-depth knowledge about the most important concepts in nutrition, supplements, body composition, and weight loss will benefit from the NASM nutrition course. Those looking to become licensed health professionals, however, should take a different route. Here’s a quick look at who would find the most value in this specialization program.
- Certified fitness professionals who want to add another service to their offerings
- Professionals who need continuing education units (CEUs) to maintain a fitness certification
- Anyone who wants to broaden their nutrition knowledge for personal or professional reasons
Not Recommended For:
- People who want to become registered dietitians (this does not credential you as a dietitian)
- Anyone who has already taken a nutrition certification course, as most largely cover the same material
Course Design and Layout
The NASM nutrition coach certification course consists of 24 chapters. Each chapter has three to five sections to break up the content further and make it more digestible.
The chapters cover the following topics:
- Scope of Practice
- Evidence-Based Nutrition and Practice
- Food Preferences and Influences
- Energy Balance and Metabolism
- Nutrient Timing
- Psychology of Weight Control and Behavior Change
- Coaching and Communication
- Motivational Interviewing
- Goal Setting
- Dietary Assessment and Body Composition Testing
- Food Labels and Portion Sizes
- Helping Clients Navigate the Real World
- Navigating Diets
- Nutrition Hot Topics and Controversies
- Programming: Putting It all Together
At the end of each section, students will complete a brief “knowledge check,” which is like a miniature quiz that tests your knowledge on the one section of information you just learned.
At the end of each chapter, students take a 15-question quiz covering all of the sections in the chapter. You must pass each quiz with a score of 75% or higher, or you have to retake it. You can take the quizzes as many times as you need or want to.
Each chapter consists of various modules, including ample reading material, along with highlighted key terms, pull-out tidbits of important information, various charts and infographics, forms and worksheets to use as a coach, and videos led by experts in different nutrition topics.
Suffice it to say: NASM caters to many different learning styles despite this being an online-only course.
Learning Objectives and Outcomes
Students who complete the course, including all of the knowledge checks and quizzes, should be prepared to give nutrition advice to various types of clients. You should finish the course with a firm grasp of macronutrients and how they play a role in fitness and wellness, supplements and performance enhancement, behavior change strategies, and fundamentals of programming for different nutrition goals.
The goal of this course is to ensure aspiring coaches will know what to do whether a client wants to lose weight, maintain their body composition, build muscle, prepare for a fitness event, or simply crush their daily workouts and recover welll.
There’s a big emphasis on fitness nutrition and sports nutrition, which I’m assuming is because many people who take this course are already certified fitness trainers and want to offer nutritionist services to their existing clients.
People who finish the course and pass the exam can use the credential NASM-CNC—National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Nutrition Coach—to market their services.
The final certification exam has 100 multiple choice questions and students have 90 minutes to complete it. Your countdown begins as soon as you start the exam. All students get three attempts at the exam, on which you need to score 70% or higher. There’s a practice exam you can take an unlimited amount of times to prepare for the final exam.
References and Data
NASM does a fantastic job of compiling sources and data for each chapter. Not only are there inline references throughout the course content, but at the end of each chapter, the course viewer presents you with a full list of citations used in that section.
Some chapters, such as those that are introductory or simplistic in nature, have short works cited—but other chapters, such as those on energy balance and thermodynamics, have mind-bogglingly long works cited.
Between the references and the videos led by experts, it’s clear that NASM is providing top-tier education with this nutrition certification program.
What Does a Certified Nutrition Coach Do?
It’s important that nutrition coaches understand their scope of practice. A certified nutrition coach can certainly help people reach their nutritional goals, but a coach is not the same as a registered dietitian.
While credentialing laws vary by state, as a general rule of thumb, registered dietitians are the only licensed professionals who can prescribe meal plans and provide nutritional advice based on health or medical conditions. An RD has earned, at a minimum, a bachelor’s degree, while nutrition coaches don’t have any formal education requirements.
This doesn’t mean there’s no place for the nutrition coach, though. Nutrition coaches often work alongside other health providers, such as physicians, dietitians, and psychologists, to provide a network of different professionals who can help clients reach their goals.
Nutrition coaches have a similar scope of practice as health coaches: Both focus on broad education and habit formation versus narrowly focused diet prescriptions or alterations. In the course, students will learn much more about the scope of practice of a certified nutrition coach.
Final Verdict of Our NASM Nutrition Certification Review
I thoroughly enjoyed the NASM nutrition course. Overally, the flow of the course felt natural and smooth, and the quizzes and exam were challenging, but not impossibly so. I feel adequately prepared to call myself a fitness nutrition specialist after taking this course.
- I came away with a fully refreshed set of nutrition knowledge after this course
- I learned new things about coaching techniques and client management
- The course took me about four months to complete; you can do it at your own pace as long as you finish within a year
- Course materials are entirely online
- A NASM certification stands out in a sea of other nutrition education certifications
NASM Certified Nutrition Coach Program
The NASM Certified Nutrition Coach Program prepares fitness and wellness professionals to coach individuals and small groups to create better eating and hydration habits, as well as performance-based nutrition.
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