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Ready to Take Control of Your Health? Here's What to Look for in a Weight Loss Nutritionist

A weight loss nutritionist can help you find the healthiest and safest ways to lose weight. This guide will explain how to choose the ideal dietitian.
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What Is a Weight Loss Nutritionist?

A weight loss nutritionist is an experienced health professional who can help you alter your diet and lifestyle to lose weight quickly, easily, and safely. The best weight loss nutritionists will help you avoid yo-yo dieting and will never suggest a fad diet. Before getting started, it's worth understanding the difference between various roles in the nutrition field.

Registered Dietitians

Registered dietitians can provide patients with medical nutrition therapy to help them lose weight under clinical supervision. Dietitians are highly educated nutrition experts certified by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics to treat patients who have various medical conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.


All registered dietitians are nutritionists, but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. Not all states require certification, so technically, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, regardless of their education and clinical training. Nutritionists may or may not be certified through the Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists or the Clinical Nutrition Certification Board. 

Read more about the role of a weight loss nutritionist on our blog.

Coaches and Influencers 

Unlike dietitians, coaches and influencers usually aren’t nutrition experts. Coaches keep you accountable and motivate you to stick to your diet and exercise plans. They are cheerleaders for their clients, leading you in the right direction when you struggle with the challenges of following a healthy diet. "Coach" is a general term and can cover individuals with practically any level of training or experience.  

Influencers are personalities on Instagram or TikTok who have a following because they provide weight loss tips and information. Some weight loss influencers have expertise in nutrition science, but many do not. Regardless of their background, their posts and videos are aimed at a general audience, so they can't tailor their advice to individuals. Their advice may or may not work for you and could be dangerous depending on your health needs, so it's always best to consult a professional before following an influencer's diet or weight loss suggestions.

How a Weight Loss Nutritionist Works With You

Unlike coaches and influencers, a registered dietitian nutritionist uses your input to create a nutrition plan tailored to you, focusing on your weight loss and health goals. To craft that plan, your nutritionist will consider your lifestyle, medical history, health conditions, activity level, sleep patterns, work and family schedule, and food allergies.

A qualified weight loss nutritionist will work with you to find recipes and meal ideas that make it easy to eat healthily. They may also recommend exercise routines to boost your metabolism and manage your weight.

At Top Nutrition Coaching, we design realistic nutrition plans tailored to you and your busy life while helping you build sustainable habits along the way. We help you stay accountable and make sure you understand the science behind your weight loss plan. Our focus is to ensure that you're using food for energy and health, not to cope with stress.

You may be wondering, "How can I find a nutritionist near me?" Don't worry – we've got you covered. We've developed a system to match you with the best nutritionist for your needs and personality.

Qualities to Look for in a Weight Loss Nutritionist or Dietitian

Knowing what to look for in a weight loss dietitian is critical. Here are five things you should consider when choosing a professional to help you with your weight loss journey.


A dietitian or certified nutritionist should have no problem showing you the documents proving that they're registered or board certified. These can include college diplomas, national certifications, and state registrations.

Customer Service

Try to find a nutritionist or registered dietitian who is always available when you need them. Ask about after-hours and weekend availability in addition to their regular working hours.


You'll be working with your nutritionist or dietitian for several months, at the very least – it's not a one-and-done situation. You want to work with someone you can get along with long-term. With Top Nutrition Coaching, you'll take a short online assessment and participate in a complimentary nutrition consultation to help us match you with the best nutritionist for your personality. Take the quiz to get started.


If you have diabetes, heart problems, need to follow a renal diet, or have had bariatric surgery, you need to work with a dietitian or nutritionist who has had extra training and qualifications in the relevant areas.


Look for a dietitian or nutritionist with plenty of experience helping people avoid common pitfalls like yo-yo dieting, rejecting certain foods, or failing to form positive eating habits. Someone with a psychology background may be able to help you create healthy habits to avoid weight gain.

Other Weight Loss Professionals Who Can Help Meet Your Nutrition Goals

Nutritionists and dietitians aren't your only choices in the weight loss industry. Here are some other professionals you may come across.


Coaches act as cheerleaders and accountability partners along the path to a healthier lifestyle. However, they shouldn't offer clinical nutrition advice or recommend a specific diet without appropriate training or education. A nutritionist can also fill the role of coach and provide medically-sound dietary advice.

Personal Trainers

Personal trainers help you utilize exercise to support your weight loss goals. Unless they also have a dietetics background, they shouldn't offer nutrition advice, except in general terms. For example, if one of your goals is to build muscle mass, they may recommend talking to your dietitian about ingesting more lean protein while avoiding weight gain.

Nutrition Companies Selling Supplements

It seems like everyone has a supplement or diet plan to sell these days. However, unless your doctor or dietitian recommends a specific nutritional supplement, such as B complex vitamins to help with energy, you don't need to take supplements. Instead, follow a reasonable nutrition plan and exercise regularly to lose weight.


Influencers are social media celebrities who have built a following around their weight loss and exercise advice. They may have even lost a significant amount of weight themselves. Unfortunately, what worked for another individual may not be healthy and could be potentially harmful to you. Your nutritionist may not be famous, but they can design a diet just for you.

Watch Out for These Red Flags When Considering Weight Loss Coaches, Dietitians, and Nutritionists 

Unfortunately, not all nutritionists, dietitians, and coaches have your best interests at heart. Here are four red flags to watch out for.

They Try to Sell You Something

Someone who calls themself a nutritionist or weight loss coach may be hawking supplements or a branded meal plan. Stay away from these folks unless you participate in a specific, well-established program. Their products might help you lose weight, but they're likely to lack FDA approval and could even be dangerous.

They Recommend an Extreme Diet

If a weight loss professional recommends a diet that drops your calorie count by more than 1,000 calories per day, they may not be allowing you to consume enough calories to function.

As a general rule, adults should consume an average of 2,000 calories per day, depending on weight, age, activity level, and basal metabolic rate, which measures how much energy you burn in a single day. Women typically need to consume fewer calories than men.

Women need at least 1,200 calories daily to maintain good health. Men need at least 1,500 calories daily. Any diet that tries to drop your caloric intake below those levels could lead to malnutrition and other adverse health outcomes such as the development of eating disorders.

They Lack Professional Training

Certified nutritionists and dietitians must complete specific educational benchmarks to earn their credentials. Technically, anybody can call themselves a nutritionist (though not a dietitian) regardless of whether they have the proper training. However, they may only offer generic advice like "avoid fried foods" or "don't eat certain foods after 6:00 pm."

They Want You to Pre-Pay for Visits

You don't know upfront how many visits you'll need. Neither does any reasonable weight loss professional. Someone who insists that you pre-pay for appointments could fail to deliver their advertised services once they have 

your money.

They Say You Don't Need To Exercise

Anybody who tells you that you don't need to exercise to lose weight is wrong. As you lose weight, your metabolism slows, says Harvard Health. Regular exercise is the healthiest way to boost your metabolism and keep burning fat as you cut calories. A personal trainer can help find the best balance of cardio and strength training to support weight loss.

Read more about how a weight loss nutritionist can help you lose weight with a strategy and pace that's right for you.

What Is the Cost Breakdown of Working With a Weight Loss Nutritionist or Dietitian?

There are costs associated with working with a registered dietitian or nutritionist. Still, the price of professional weight loss support is likely far lower than that of future medical treatment due to weight-related health problems.

Out-of-Pocket Costs

Hiring a Nutritionist or Dietitian

Unless you have specific medical issues, insurance doesn't always cover the cost of working with a nutritionist or registered dietitian. Dietitians set their rates based on qualifications, experience, specializations, and geographic location. A 60-minute session could cost anywhere from $60 to $100, though initial consultations are usually more. Virtual nutrition counseling tends to be a reasonable alternative to in-person visits. 

Paying for Healthy Food

If you're used to whipping up a box of macaroni and cheese and throwing in a can of tuna for dinner, the sticker shock of healthy food can be a big surprise. Your tuna mac typically costs around $1.34 if you get generic brands. It's essential to know how many calories you're eating with food like this: if you eat the whole box, you're consuming 1,066 calories.

Healthier foods are more expensive than processed items, especially when combining them to create a meal. For example, broccoli crowns run to $1.89 per pound. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are $3.49 per pound.

Gym Membership or Personal Training

Although joining a gym or working with a personal trainer is far from essential, it can be a valuable asset to your weight loss journey. Starting an exercise regimen on your own is daunting. Many people benefit from personalized attention when it comes to fitness, just as they do with nutrition. Alternatively, you can find extensive fitness information online, including workout plans and YouTube exercise videos. You may be able to eliminate the cost of personal training if you work with a registered dietitian who is also qualified as a personal trainer. 

Expenses You May Save On in the Long Run

Doctor's Appointments

By eating the right foods and exercising regularly, you'll need fewer visits to the doctor. Weight loss can lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic pain, type two diabetes, and some types of cancer. You may have more energy and sleep better if you lose weight. Learning healthy eating habits can also help you avoid eating disorders.

For example, if you are pre-diabetic or have insulin resistance, Johns Hopkins says that losing five to 10 percent of your body weight reduces your risk of diabetes by 58%. If you already have diabetes, you can manage it better by losing weight. You may even be able to stop taking medication for certain chronic conditions after losing weight.

Decreasing your weight can also improve your mental health. According to the National Institutes of Health, 80% of people with serious mental illness are obese or overweight, which is a significant factor in their mortality rate being three times that of the general population. 

Cost to the Environment

Convenience foods, which typically have higher salt, sugar, and fat contents than healthy foods, also come with a lot of packaging. Those boxes and bags contribute to landfills and add up over time. On the other hand, a head of cauliflower comes with no packaging, and the part you don't eat can be composted.

Some research indicates that a vegetarian diet may be more environmentally friendly than an omnivorous diet. If you choose that route, you can eliminate the packaging required for meat. You'll also stop contributing to the high environmental costs of raising, feeding, and slaughtering animals.

Costs to Your Career

Being obese or overweight can hurt your productivity, limiting your prospects for career advancement. On the other hand, losing weight can increase productivity, leading to promotions and salary increases. 

Are You Ready To Get Started With a Nutritionist?

Working with a nutritionist can help you lose weight, get healthier, spend less time at doctor's offices, protect the environment, and boost your career prospects. Those outcomes are well worth the cost of nutrition counseling sessions and a pantry full of healthy whole foods.

It's not always simple to find the right weight loss nutritionist or registered dietitian. At Top Nutrition Coaching, we make that easier for you. Need a more personalized way to match with a nutritionist? Take this quiz!

Find your personal nutrition coach today.

Start your 2 week RISK-FREE TRIAL now!

About the author

Nicolette Star Maggiolo, RD, LDN
I'm a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist with education from Boston University and clinical training from both Brigham & Women's Hospital and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. I specialize in helping the military and non-military individuals embrace nutrition as a partner in both their mental and physical health.

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