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Kickoff's certified personal trainers and registered dietitians share detailed analysis, discussion, and how-tos about the questions we get most often

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What Is an Online Nutrition Coach and How Can I Find One?

So, you want to eat healthier. It’s an admirable goal most Americans make at some point in their lives.👏However, so many people who decide to eat healthier don’t know how to make good diet choices stick or what is healthiest for them. This is because there is no one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition.

This is where an online nutrition coach can help. Read on to learn what an online nutrition coach does, who is best suited to work with online nutrition coaches, the benefits of having an online nutrition coach, the differences between online nutrition coaches and other health coaches and nutritionists, and how to find an online nutrition coach.

What Is an Online Nutrition Coach?

Online nutrition coach happily typing

An online nutrition coach is someone with expertise and credentials in nutrition who helps others improve their nutrition and diet through virtual communication. 

A good nutrition coach is NOT someone who pushes a specific diet, tells you to buy a particular brand of low-calorie protein bar, or promises insanely fast weight loss with a proprietary supplement, or who is otherwise trying to sell you a product. They’re also not a medical doctor (usually) and can’t prescribe drugs.

The best nutrition coaches help you figure out your current nutrition intake and work with you to make sustainable changes to your diet that you feel good about.

Who Needs an Online Nutrition Coach?

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Data shows most Americans struggle with eating healthier. Plus, it can be overwhelming to learn about nutrition on your own. There’s so much conflicting guidance online from whether to eat small meals throughout the day to whether dark chocolate really offers health benefits. To find out whether those gluten-free crackers are actually healthy, how to pair nutrition and workouts to help you lose weight, it can be helpful to talk to a human.

While we think everyone could benefit from working with a nutrition coach, some people may find their advice especially helpful:

People Who Want to Improve Their Nutrition Intake

Maybe you know you’re not getting enough of some specific nutrients, like Vitamin D or magnesium, and you need help figuring out the best sources for your diet. It’s a good idea to get regular bloodwork to see which nutrients you’re low in and then discuss your results with a certified nutritionist.

If you’re serious about improving your nutrition, rather than going down the rabbithole of confusing and disjointed information online, try working with an online nutrition coach. They’ll personalize their advice to you and your specific needs, and they’ll be your go-to motivator in this journey.

People With Restrictions, Illness, or Specific Preferences

When you have nutrition questions that relate to a health condition, it’s always worth getting a professional nutritionist’s opinion. Whether you have celiac disease or you want to better manage your carb intake for your hypoglycemia, or a myriad of other conditions, a nutrition coach can offer you extra support and guidance. 

People Who Have Specific Goals

Looking to lose a certain amount of weight? Hoping to build muscle? Training for a marathon? Trying to replace your side of fries with a salad a few times a week? Whatever your specific goals are, a good online nutrition coach has the expertise you’ll need to help you achieve them.

A great nutrition coach will help you clearly define your goals to be SMART, so you’ll be much more likely to achieve them. Not everyone can become an Olympic athlete, but anyone can benefit from expert, personalized advice on how to eat healthier.

Benefits of Having an Online Nutrition Coach

Man slicing some vegetables

Changing your eating habits isn’t just a matter of willpower. It often requires you to rethink how you make decisions about what you eat and your relationship with food. A little support in this journey goes a long way. 

Here are just a few benefits of having an online nutrition coach:

They’ll Help Motivate You

If you struggle with motivation, you’re not alone. The barriers to healthy eating can be high, and sometimes we just aren’t motivated enough to push past them, especially when under stress. We all slip up, and that’s ok.

However, an online nutrition coach can determine what really motivates you. Maybe it’s a specific goal, having support, logging your meals, a combination of these, or something else entirely – even if you’re not sure what’s going to motivate you, they’ll help you figure it out. 

Plus, since you can chat with an online nutrition coach from the comfort of your phone, it’s easier to access them when you need a little extra motivation.

They’ll Hold You Accountable

Accountability can be a strong motivator. For some people, holding yourself accountable to another person can be all the push you need to follow through with your plans. An online nutrition coach will figure out how to hold you accountable in ways that make sense to you. For example, the online trainers at Kickoff start with subtle, friendly nudges. As you work together, they get to know you to understand what sort of check-ins are most effective for you.

They’ll Be Your Personal Expert

The amount of nutrition information you can find online is staggering, and it’s not always reliable. You could spend the rest of your life trying to sift through it and decipher what nutrition advice is credible, or you could speak to a real-life expert who will get to know you to create an individualized approach.

They’ll Teach You

An online nutrition coach will teach you how to eat healthier and how to build sustainable habits. In other words, you won’t be dependent on this person or their services for the rest of your life. A good online nutrition coach will empower you to take your health into your own hands.

You’ll Have Access to Them Throughout the Day

Again, one big advantage of an online nutrition coach over an in-person coach is that you can video chat or text with them any time. You can do this from home, or wherever you happen to be at the moment. You won’t have to travel to meet them, and their rates tend to be less expensive than in-person coaches, so you save time and money when you work with them.

You’ll Have Virtually Unlimited Options

Not limiting yourself to nutrition coaches who happen to live in your area will give you way more options than trying to find an in-person nutrition coach. That means you can find an expert nutritionist who has the specialization you’re looking for and the right kind of personality to motivate you. You get to be picky in this relationship. 

Online Nutrition Coach vs. Health Coach vs. Nutritionist?

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By now, you’ve seen how beneficial online nutrition coaches can be, but you may still be wondering how exactly such professionals are different from other health coaches or nutritionists. Let’s talk about some of the differences:

Health Coach

A health coach (or wellness coach) looks at your health as a whole and tries to help you make healthy lifestyle changes. They can come from a variety of certification programs. Health coaches will have some knowledge of nutrition, but it often isn’t their focus. 

Nutritionist

A nutritionist is a nutrition expert with a degree in nutrition or a related field or a certificate, such as registered dietitian (RD or RDN). Nutritionists can only prescribe meal plans or supplements if they have this certification.

Nutrition Coach

By contrast, a nutrition coach focuses much more on educating, motivating, and inspiring behavior changes in your diet. They’ll look at your current nutrition and help you work towards achievable goals. Nutrition coaches may also be certified (RD or university programs) and often have more expertise than nutritionists.

What to Look for in an Online Nutrition Coach

Online nutrition coach wearing earphones while on a video call

You’ll definitely want a nutrition coach with the following traits:

Affordable

Of course, cost is often a barrier when people consider any sort of personal training. While the average cost for an in-person trainer or coach is around $50 per hour, it’s more expensive in certain big cities, which may not be worth it for most people. Thankfully, online coaching is much less expensive, regardless of where you live. Think about what you’re able to pay and which option will be best for you.

Good Listener

As with any coach, you need someone who listens to you. All the expertise in the world won’t matter if your coach just lectures at you and doesn’t listen when you try to speak. A good coach will spend a lot of time really listening to you and help you create a plan tailored to your specific needs and goals.

Empathetic

A good coach needs to be empathetic. In other words, they need to be able to read the room. An empathetic coach will learn how best to communicate with you, what makes you tick, and what sort of support and guidance you need in this journey. They’ll get to know you as an individual.

It’s really important that this is a person you trust and feel comfortable sharing personal information with. There’s no point doing this work if, for instance, you don’t tell your coach about that “party-sized” bag of chips you ate the other night. A good coach is someone you can be honest with who will never judge or blame you.

Has Relevant Expertise

There are plenty of questionable nutrition programs and weight management strategies. Before you start looking for an online nutrition coach, it’s a good idea to think about your goals and what sort of certifications and other credentials you’d like to look for.

Many online nutrition coaches are certified nutrition coaches or RDs, and many have relevant advanced degrees. Look into the certification of any coach you’re considering to make sure it is legitimate.

A Proven Track Record

Credentials sound impressive and all, but it’s also important that a nutrition coach has a history of helping people like you with similar goals. Consider how many years of experience they have, and read their testimonials. 

Start Your Journey to Better Health Today

Online nutrition coach at a video call with a client

Online nutrition coaches are a great way to receive expert nutrition advice from the comfort of your home. Make sure to find someone who has the right credentials, experience, and personality to help you.

If you’re feeling amped up and ready to get started with an online nutrition coach: Awesome! For as little as $3 a day, you can work with online trainers from Kickoff, setting the type and frequency of communication you’d like to have with them.

Note that all Kickoff trainers have nutrition expertise, but some list this as their specialty. If you’re looking for an online nutrition coach, make sure to look at trainers who have the nutrition specialty. You’ll also be able to get expert fitness guidance from any Kickoff trainer – they are all fitness coaches as well.