“The Keto diet is super easy to maintain, and you will lose weight fast.” – TikTok nutritionist. 


“My 30-day metabolism reset will help you lose weight and keep it off” – Instagram health coach


“Smoothies helped me get back to my college weight!” – social media nutrition influencer

Fad diets are everywhere, and unfortunately, your social media feed is probably filled with bad advice from people presenting themselves as experts sharing tips on how to lose weight. If you have ever heard a self-proclaimed nutrition expert say anything like the quotes above, RUN!  

Finding reliable and quality diet and nutrition advice online starts with finding the right source. Understanding the difference between a nutritionist vs. a dietitian can help. People often confuse the titles dietitian and nutritionist, and although these two professions are similar, they have some clear distinctions. 

We spoke with two of CoreLife’s Registered Dietitians, Patrick Dunn, and Ashley Lewis, to gain a clear understanding of the difference between a dietitian and a nutritionist and why the distinction matters for your health. 

Dietitian vs Nutritionist 

Let’s take a deep dive into the world of nutrition education. The primary difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian is the education requirement. 

There are no formal standards for obtaining the title of “nutritionist” and individuals may pursue their nutrition education in a number of ways. While some nutritionists may have formal education or certification in nutrition, many can be self-taught. Unfortunately, anyone can call themselves a nutritionist, but being licensed is much different.   

That is why your favorite social media nutritionist may be giving you inaccurate information. According to Lewis, “Although some health professionals may have good intentions, they are still misinforming people.”     

The steps to becoming a registered dietitian are extensive. They include: 

  • Obtaining an undergraduate degree through an accredited dietetic program
  • Being matched to an internship and completing 1,200 supervised hours in various rotations such as clinical, community nutrition, and food service management. 
  • Taking and passing the Commission on Dietetic Registration Exam (CDR) 
  • Apply for licensure in the state you are practicing 

After passing the CDR exam, individuals earn the registered dietitian (RD) title. However, certain states require additional licensing to practice. To maintain the RD title, dietitians must complete 75 continuing education credits every five years.

“You have to be passionate about nutrition,” explains Dunn. After dealing with some personal struggles with weight himself, Dunn wanted to help educate others. He describes his journey as a “labor of love.”

Choosing a Nutritionist vs. a Registered Dietitian

You may be looking for healthy eating tips or ideas for how to lose weight fast and thinking, “Should I choose a nutritionist or a dietitian to meet my health goals?” The answer depends on your needs.

At CoreLife, our nutritionists are all registered dietitians because we value the expertise and clinical knowledge that comes with an accredited dietetics degree, experience, and licensing.  But depending on the type of nutritional support you need, a nutritionist may be a perfect fit. When choosing a nutritionist, it is best to look closely at their qualifications and the type of training they have received. If you are looking for nutritional guidance for a medical condition, including obesity, a dietitian will likely be a better fit due to their clinical training. When selecting a dietitian, be sure to ask if they have experience with your specific health condition. 

The good news is that there are plenty of choices, and it is easy to find the right nutrition professional. Organizations like the Maryland Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (MAND) make finding qualified dietitians and nutritionists a breeze. Through events, newsletters, and continuing education, MAND supports nutrition professionals in optimizing the health and well-being of Marylanders through food and nutrition. Lewis has been elected President of MAND, and Dunn has been awarded the 2022 MAND Recognized Young Dietitian of the Year. 

All CoreLife registered dietitians have experience and training working with patients who have obesity. Learn more about CoreLife at corelifemd.com or call us at (800) 905-3261.