You have always wanted to learn more about nutrition and develop coaching skills? NASM has three courses that will help you gain a thorough education, and then certify your ability to coach clients using the knowledge you have gained.
Each of these courses offers a unique perspective on nutrition, as well as how to emphasize each client’s fitness, health, and wellness. How can you choose the right course for your fitness career?
This blog will break down the nutrition-related programs of NASM and explain why each one can help you become a better fitness professional.


The first product is the Certified Wellness Coach certification (CWC). Let’s first define what a wellness coaching is. A wellness coach guides clients to a healthier life by focusing on behavior modification and examining all aspects of nutrition, mental health, and physical well-being.
As mentors, wellness coaches help their clients improve in areas such as emotional health, stress reduction, mental recovery, eating habits, and physical recovery. The NASM Certified Wellness Coach Certification contains 35 chapters divided into five sections: movement, mental and physical well-being and nutrition.
The first section explains what wellness is and the principles of coaching that support it. This section is devoted to behavior modification, building rapport, communicating with clients and defining the scope of a wellness coach 5etools.
The second section focuses on movement and its impact on mental and physical well-being. This section provides information on how to identify client barriers to physical activity and how to provide suggestions that are aligned with the client’s needs/goals.
The third section explains the science behind stress and cognitive processes, as well as sleep and how you can improve psychological wellness in your clients. The fourth section will teach you all you need to about nutrition. What healthy eating patterns are, what science has to say about different diets, their effects on weight loss, exercise, and overall health. How diet affects disease risk.
You’ll finish this course by learning what it means being a wellness trainer and how you can use the tools and information that you have just learned to effectively help your clients. This course will give you advice on how to structure your coaching sessions, create wellness plans, retain clients, and develop self-awareness.


NASM’S CERTIFIED nutrition coach course

The next certification on the list is NASM’s Certified Nutrition Coach (CNC). A certified nutritionist is similar to a wellness or health coach. The main focus of a certified nutrition coach is to provide clients with dietary guidance. You cannot prescribe meal plans but you can provide clients with suggestions based on evidence to help them achieve their goals, whether it is weight loss, muscle growth, training or nutritional well-being.
This course goes into much greater depth on the science of metabolism, macronutrients and micronutrients. It also covers hydration. The course also includes information on supplements and their efficacy. The CNC course, like the wellness coaching program also delves into the psychology of behavior change. It provides learning materials on how to assess clients’ readiness for change, create goals, and ask them the right questions.
This course concludes with seven chapters that are packed full of information on how to become a successful nutritionist. You will be able to help your clients with questions about label reading, diets and fads/misconceptions as well as weight loss plateaus.


The last certification on the list is NASM’s Certified Sports Nutrition Coach. The sports certification, like a nutritionist, is heavily based on nutrition science, but… in relation to exercise performance.
This course will teach you how to give clients an edge through manipulating their food intake in order to optimize performance and recovery for various sports. You’ll learn about 20 chapters that cover a wide range of topics, including fueling principles and metabolism.

The Overland

What are the differences and overlaps between these three courses? Which course is best for you?
Regarding content, each course dives into the specifics regarding basic education on nutrition and covers basic macronutrient and micronutrient principles, hydration, and metabolism/absorption of alcohol. Each course touches on myths and fads about different diets, or beliefs regarding certain food products. The differences are in the specific scope of practice.
The CWC, for example, includes a section dedicated to nutrition and its impact on long-term wellness, as well as nutrition coaching tips that can help clients improve their general eating habits.
It also places a lot of emphasis on other aspects of “wellness”, such as mental/emotional health and exercise. The CNC focuses exclusively on nutrition and coaching to improve dietary habits. The CNC goes into much greater depth on nutrition basics, including metabolism, macronutrients and micronutrients.
Similarly, the CSNC also dives into metabolism, macronutrient/micronutrient education, and nutrient timing BUT more specifically as it applies to an athletic population. This course includes a chapter on each food and how it affects performance and recovery. This course is best suited to individuals who have a basic background in nutrition and are looking to work with elite athletes whose needs differ significantly from those of a sedentary group.


The CNC or CWC are good places to start if your goal is simply to build a solid foundation of knowledge. It’s all about your goals as a trainer. Do you only want to focus on nutrition or do you also have other goals in mind? Do you think that physical fitness, psychology and sleep management, as well as stress management, all play a critical role in your overall health and wellbeing? These courses will give you the basic knowledge and tools to properly advise clients who are just starting a fitness regimen.
The CSNC is a wonderful addition to the CNC or CWC. Before applying advanced principles to any population, it is important to understand the basics. This course is best suited to those who want to work with highly-trained individuals or athletes.
Each course contains a wealth of evidence-based information. You will receive an education that’s based on science and has been reviewed by leading experts in nutrition, training and physiology.