Recently I had a club owner ask for assistance as he reviewed all of the Nutrition and/or Diet Certifications out there. He is looking to qualify his 100 plus trainers to provide nutritional counseling to clients. Here is my response to him, which is what I have always believed. I hope this helps clarify the limits of your true scope of practice as a Certified Personal Trainer.
“Thank you for reaching out to us. We do not have a dietary certification, nor do we intend to go down that path. I realize there is a lot of money in it for both of us, and it is tempting to offer a Dietary Certification like a lot of other groups. The reality is that Dietary Counseling is not truly in our industry’s wheelhouse. We do have all kinds of nutritional workshops available with respected authors, to help educate trainers to work with all age groups.
“My reasoning is based simply on staying in our respected professional lanes. Dietary Certifications from other groups are treading into illegal waters with weight loss credentialing, in my opinion. There is huge liability in acknowledging trainers as credible prescribers of diets. A Nutritional Certification is really out of the realm of a personal trainer’s scope of practice. It gives trainers false hopes of knowing exactly what to do with a client in this area.
“What we all should do is to network with Registered Dietitians who have the depth of knowledge and official license to be safe and effective. Teaching trainers superficially to know just enough to prescribe a diet is dangerous. I would respectfully share that it can get them/you sued. There are so many variables to consider when prescribing a diet which include medications, medical issues, herb use by the clients and much more. That is why a Registered Dietician is the safer business choice. At that point you can network with many of them and send clients back and forth for the best results for the client.
“Bottom line is that Registered Dietitians are not fitness professionals and they need you as much as you need them for clients’ results and business growth.
“I hope we can network and talk soon on many levels.