The Difference Between a Personal Trainer and a Dietitian


Are you struggling to stay in shape? Are your eating habits out of control? Food and exercise are vital in developing good health, and should not be taken lightly. However, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, more than one third of adults are considered obese in the U.S.A.

Overweight and obesity result from an energy imbalance. The body needs a certain amount of energy (calories) from food to keep up basic life functions. Body weight tends to remain the same when the number of calories eaten equals the number of calories the body uses or “burns.” Over time, when people eat and drink more calories than they burn, the energy balance tips toward weight gain, overweight, and obesity.” (NIDDK)

Furthermore, overweight and obesity can cause fatal diseases such as diabetes, heart problems, high blood pressure, cancer, and stroke. The earlier we start taking care of our body, the lower our risk of developing such diseases. The effects of poor nutrition and a lack of exercise also lead to mental illnesses, such as depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, and even dementia.

The more we understand about the topic of health, the easier it is for us to make better choices. Cultivating a healthy lifestyle should be a priority for everyone. It does not matter how late you start, or how bad you think your health is. There are several types of accredited professionals who are experts in this field and can help you get where you want to be. Today, we will go over the basic differences of two of the most sought after types of health professionals: the dietitian and the personal trainer.

A dietitian is a person who studies or is an expert in nutrition and the regulation of diet. People often seek dietitians when they have nutritional problems, are looking to improve their eating habits, lose or gain weight, or simply pursue a healthier lifestyle. The term “dietitian” is protected by the law in most countries, and in order to become a registered dietitian one must meet the following requirements: earn a bachelor’s degree in a health related field, complete a dietetic internship program, and pass any state and/or national examinations. As all health professionals, the dietitian is committed to maintaining continuing education.

The term “nutritionist” is often thought to be a synonym for dietitian. However, this title is not protected in most regions and anyone can call themselves a nutritionist. They do so by completing online courses or short certification programs and while their interest is admirable, there is more depth to the human anatomy and understanding nutrients than a 2-hour course. Therefore, when choosing a professional to assist with eating and dieting, one must be careful not to see someone who is under-qualified.

A personal trainer is a professional who helps clients reach their fitness goals. This is done through specific exercise routines, goal setting, measuring clients’ strengths and weaknesses, and providing valuable feedback. Personal trainers work at gyms and are really good at motivating others. They will teach their clients how to properly use gym machines and equipment, how to manage their time, how many repetitions of each exercise to do, and how to stretch and cool down properly. Most fitness centers require personal trainers to be certified by an accredited organization. There are different programs and courses than can be taken to become a certified professional trainer – a college degree is rarely necessary.

In order to decide whether a nutritionist or a personal trainer is best for you, it is important to make a list of goals and objectives. Some of the questions you can ask yourself are:

  1. Do you want to build muscle or slim down?
  2. Do you struggle making healthy food and life choices?
  3. Do you want to get fit or lose weight?
  4. Are you comfortable with weights and machines in the gym? Do you know how to use them properly?
  5. Do you get bored/unmotivated at the gym easily? Could you use some help designing and switching up your routine?
  6. Do you feel like your diets never work?
  7. Do you feel bloated, fatigued, and/or struggle accepting your body image?
  8. Do you feel misinformed about food industry in general and want to know how to read food labels?
  9. Have you suffered any injuries that requires an individualized training program?
  10. Do you find yourself making excuses for not working out and lack accountability?

We hope that by reading through the list of questions above you could identify where you are struggling the most. If you answered “yes” to questions related to the gym, motivation, and work out routines, you may benefit from seeing a personal trainer. A dietitian will design an eating plan for you and educate you on nutrients, reading labels, and the food industry. Is this an area in which you crave knowledge? Begin researching for health professionals in your area and take that first step towards living a better life.

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