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RDs Vs Health Coaches

RD’s Vs. Health Coaches

We have probably all found ourselves looking up how healthy the food we’re considering eating for the day, or checking how effective intermittent fasting and the Mediterranean diet is. But when was the last time you found suggestions and results that were clear and suited to you and the specific dishes you actually eat? When you feel lost and eating healthy seems like a faraway dream, that’s when nutrition experts can help put you on the right path! You might have seen courses by “health coaches” pop up on your journey looking to improve your lifestyle, but who are they and how do they compare to other professionals such as Registered Dietitians?

Health coaches work in multiple environments including corporations, insurance-based programs, or their own companies with ads that stick attractive checklists that cover self-discovery, weight management, and nutrition care. Although The National Board for Health and Wellness Coaching is fighting to become the certifying body for Health Coaching, today, anyone can brand themselves as a health coach. There are no regulations to protect the title in the United States and students can complete a certification program in just 14 weeks. A health coach helps a person plan and achieve health and fitness goals by focusing on behavior change. Although they cannot prescribe specific diets or exercise programs, they are skilled communicators that help by being there and empathizing. They can help keep you accountable by setting realistic goals to help with your overall health and well-being.

Meanwhile, Registered Dietitians (RDs) are required to complete a master’s program, a 6~12 - month Dietetic Internship with 1000+ hours of supervised practice, and a standardized national exam to earn their credentials. They can prescribe diets and recommend exercise routines. Registered Dietitians focus on evidence-based practice to educate clients and have the unique power to provide medical nutrition therapy. They even aid in the treatment of disease with nutrition interventions. Their licenses are based on evidence-based practice and are in compliance with health standards that are nationwide and set by governmental bodies.

In conclusion, seeking help from a health coach is a great first step to improving your diet and health. If need be they can always refer you to an RD. RD’s empower you to make lifestyle changes and nutrition recommendations, too, and have the relevant science to help you make informed nutrition decisions and provide a reliable bridge to the healthcare system! On top of that, RD’s can tailor diets and meal plans to your needs including ones that help with chronic illnesses, and they have a role in formulating public health initiatives.

Written by: Jeffrey Tsui

Approved and Reviewed by: Supriya Lal, RD, MPH


“About Accredited Programs.” eatrightPRO.Org - Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Accessed 30 May 2023.

“Health Coach vs. Registered Dietitian Nutritionist: Dietitians on Demand.” Dietitians On Demand | Professional Recruiting Services for Contract and Permanent-Hire Positions., Accessed 30 May 2023.

“Dietitian - Explore HealthCare Careers - Mayo Clinic College of Medicine & Science.” Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, Accessed 30 May 2023.

Perlman, Adam I, and Abd Moain Abu Dabrh. “Health and Wellness Coaching in Serving the Needs of Today’s Patients: A Primer for Healthcare Professionals.” Global Advances in Health and Medicine, 21 Sept. 2020,

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