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Nutritionist vs Dietician: What's the Difference?

Updated: Jul 26, 2023

From diet tips and exercise routines to medical advice, people who claim to be experts offer all kinds of guidance. Learn what the differences between a nutritionist and a dietician are, and what kinds of training each title requires.

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When scanning through endless websites, social media accounts, blogs, and forums offering weight loss advice, there are two professions that come up consistently: Dietician and Nutritionist.


Both professions are qualified to provide nutritional advice that is healthy, sustainable, and helps you achieve your weight loss goals - and there is a great deal of crossover between the two. The main differences between dieticians and nutritionists are legal, with differences in restrictions and regulations each carries. A dietician is a legally protected title that requires hours of supervised practice. A nutritionist is not a protected title and can cover a broader array of working roles in the nutrition space.

We will consider the differences between these roles and the benefits they offer weight loss programs in a clinical setting like DietMD®!



DIETICIANS


Registered Dieticians (RDs) are experts on food and nutrition, providing clinical nutrition therapy to patients, assessing their diets and lifestyles, and educating them on their nutritional needs. Dieticians create individualized meal plans for each patient's goals, needs, and health targets. Nutrition-based treatment for diabetes education and management, known as Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT), should only be provided by a registered dietician or a nutritionist working under the supervision of an RD.


While they are not medical doctors, registered dieticians are highly qualified clinical specialists with a degree in nutrition and verification statement from an Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (ACEND) accredited program. Dieticians must complete 1,200 hours of supervised clinical time under a licensed professional and a bachelor’s degree to sit for the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) exam. Starting in 2024, dieticians must obtain a master’s degree BEFORE obtaining their license.


Passing the CDR exam and earning a national RD credential qualifies a dietician to hold a license and practice in most states. These board-certified professionals are qualified to work in hospitals, research institutions, clinics, and a host of other institutions within healthcare, food service, community health, and research.


Dieticians can pursue a variety of specializations and certifications, such as Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE). While certification can vary, universities further offer different specialty areas for students. The Registered Dietician on our DietMD® team, Kevin McCulloch, chose Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT) as a specialty in order to focus on type 2 diabetes management through diet.



NUTRITIONISTS


Nutritionists cover a spectrum of roles and are generally defined as "any professional who offers nutritional advice". Nutritionist titles are not regulated as strictly as dietician titles and therefore have fewer certification and professional training requirements. This does not mean, however, that every nutritionist is less qualified than every dietician, but rather the title itself is not as clearly indicative of qualifications.


There are titles for clinical nutritionists that require exhaustive certification and training. These nutrition professionals often use laboratory testing to conduct their work as part of a larger medical team. The Board Certification of Nutrition Specialists (CBNS) allows nutritionists to earn a certified nutrition specialist (CNS) credential. CBNS designation requires a master’s or doctoral degree in a field-related discipline, 1,000 hours of supervised practical experience, a satisfactory score on the CBNS exam, and completion of continuing education requirements.


Our DietMD® nutritionist, Victoria Signorelli, works closely with our diverse team of healthcare professionals. Victoria focuses on patient education, using nutritional guidance and individual skill-building to ensure patients build lasting habits that support overall health.



The DietMD® Difference


At DietMD®, we have a team that includes a Registered Dietician, a Nutritionist, and Physician’s Assistants. The entire DietMD® team is led by weight loss and diabetes management expert, Dr. J. Shaun Murphy. The different backgrounds and experiences of each healthcare professional on our DietMD® team offers crucial advantages when constructing a weight-loss program that is healthy, safe, and effective. We can guarantee that all nutritional and dietary advice is medically sound, including its impact on health, body systems, disease management, and overall well-being.


The clinical setting in which DietMD® operates sets it apart from other low-carb or keto-focused weight-loss services, especially those not led by medical doctors. DietMD® is also qualified to offer services designed specifically for diabetic patients, with outstanding health statistics that target weight loss, A1C reduction, and insulin dependence.


PATIENT STATISTICS


• Average 29 pounds lost within 3 to 4 months of the program

• Average 45.5 pounds lost within 8 to 12 months of the program

• Average 2.53 point reduction in A1C for type 2 diabetics with starting A1C > 7

• Type 2 diabetes patients no longer needed insulin within 4 to 6 weeks of the program


Want to learn more about DietMD®? Call today and schedule your FREE consultation!

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