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Nutritionists: What Do They Actually Do?

by | Jun 3, 2019 | Last updated Feb 15, 2022

Author: Stephanie Santoro

Nutritionists and dietitians work in a variety of settings advising clients on how different aspects of nutrition affect their health, which can include weight loss and weight management. They help clients modify their diets so they can develop better eating habits and healthier lifestyles. As experts in food, health, and nutrition, they provide personalized guidance and design meal plans for individuals, hospitals, gyms, communities, and any variety of wellness service providers.

Nutritionist Services

Nutritionists provide nutrition counseling, meal planning, customized meal services, corporate wellness, weight management, and personal wellness consulting. But when it comes to seeking professional help in this field, the first thing you should know is not all nutritionists are created equal. When it comes to nutrition for weight loss especially, you’ll want to make sure you’re going with the real thing and not someone who is just really enthusiastic and seemingly knowledgeable about nutrition.

Breakdown of Credentials

There are various nutritionist certifications out there. But the qualifications are not interchangeable with Registered Dietitian Nutritionist credentials. For example, whereas all RDNs and RDs can be considered nutritionists, nutritionists are not equally recognized as registered dietitians (RDs/RDNs).

Here’s a list of some of the main designations in order of highest credential to lowest, or farthest removed from what we’d consider to be an “expert”:  

  • Registered Dietitian or Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RD/RDN) – Interchangeable designation that requires a bachelor’s degree, completion of extensive nutrition related coursework, 1,200 hours of supervised practice, passing of a rigorous registration exam, and required continued education every five years. The approving board also offers credential extensions that certify the RD/RDN in specialties like obesity, oncology nutrition, etc.  
  • Certified Dietitian/Nutritionist (CD/CDN) – State-specific licensure (RDs/RDNs usually meet the criteria).
  • Licensed Dietitian/Nutritionist (LD/LDN) – State-specific licensure (RDs/RDNs usually meet the criteria).
  • Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) – Credential for nutritionists with a masters or doctoral degree in a related field, completion of 1,000 hours of supervised practice, passed an exam, and continued education.
  • Certified Nutritionist (CN) – Two-year college degree or six-class online program plus the passing of an exam.
  • Certified Nutritional Consultant (CNC) – Passing of an open book exam.

What’s so much better about an RDN?

With an RD/RDN you’re getting a broader range of expertise when it comes to weight loss planning and how it interrelates with other concerns you might have, like pregnancy, surgeries, allergies, or physical restrictions—just to name a handful. You’re also going to want the highest level of guidance when it comes to nutrients, behavior change, and education to keep weight off for good.

These are all things that a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist can help you with, without extreme restrictions to your favorite foods or insane fitness routines that are sure to have you quickly throwing in the towel. The idea is to introduce balance and provide education for managing your own wellness so you’re empowered to lose weight and maintain that weight loss long term.

Best Skillset Range

Because RDNs have the strictest requirements in their field for obtaining and maintaining the highest credentials, look for weight loss plans that are developed by these experts. They have the broadest, yet highest skillset range, intersecting with other wellness concerns. And they’re the most respected practitioners of the nutritionist profession. Whether it’s direct consultation at a practice near you, or a program you can access online, choose from programs that are designed and guided by the best professionals in their field. Your health depends on it.

Convenience of Nutritionists Online

Accessible online and via mobile app, Noom is designed and informed by RDNs, doctors, and psychologists, which ensures you get the highest degree of personalized support toward your weight loss goals. Because their knowledge is intrinsic to the inner workings and fundamentals of the Noom program, it includes bells and whistles you don’t really find elsewhere, namely daily support and individual customization. You have access to articles, nutrition and portion advice, and guidance for fostering true behavior change around eating and activity.


The wisdom of Registered Dietitian Nutritionists is one of the most valuable features one can strive for in a weight loss program. It’s an element that is woven into every aspect of Noom’s design. So, from meal logging to work out plans; exercise tracking to goal setting; personal health coaches to motivation and progress logging, we have you covered. We also don’t shy away from helping you tackle emotional eating, stress, boredom, or anything else that complicates eating choices. And since no one accomplishes anything truly extraordinary in a silo, you’ll have access to peers with similar goals and success stories to help you all the way through.