There is a common misconception in the personal training industry around nutrition. We don’t know when it started, but for years, trainers and clients have been told it is illegal for certified personal trainers to provide nutritional advice and guidance to clients.

Guess what? That is not the case. In fact, the nutrition profession is regulated at the State level, meaning there aren’t any federal laws in place regarding the practice – so each State determines of practice requirements and scope. As a practitioner, it is then up to certified personal trainers to know and understand the laws in the State where they work. 

How to Know

The Center for Nutrition Advocacy has created a clickable map view describing the legalities of nutrition for each state. The four broad categories breakdown as follows:

  • Red: It is illegal to perform individualized nutrition counseling unless licensed or exempt. Effectively only registered dietitians (RDs) are eligible for licensure.
  • Orange: It is illegal to perform individualized nutrition counseling unless licensed or exempt. There is a non-RD pathway for licensure. Check for exemptions.
  • Yellow: It is legal for all to perform individualized nutrition counseling. Effectively, only RDs are eligible for state recognition.
  • Green: It is legal for all to perform individualized nutrition counseling; there may be restrictions on medical nutrition therapy.

What It All Means

In reality, the majority of the states indicate it is legal to perform nutrition counseling. Where health professionals – including certified personal trainers – must be careful is how they advertise and the phrasing used. For example, unless the certified personal trainer is also a licensed dietician, they cannot indicate they are licensed or certified to provide nutritional information. Certified personal trainers must also be careful when working with specific diets, especially for any client with disease or special conditions as many of these would fall out of scope. 
For more information, check the Commission on Dietetic Registration website for information about licensure and verbiage in your state.

How To Get Clients Healthier

Additional support for certified personal trainers and clients looking to eat better can be found at the website of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion for dietary guidelines. Chapter 3 within the guidelines is specifically titled Everyone Has a Role in Supporting Healthy Eating Patterns aimed at getting everyone more food and health aware. Immediately after this chapter is Appendix 1. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

How PFTA Austin Can Help

Following the National Council on Strength & Fitness CPT curriculum, we cover everything nutrition – from macros to micros as well as bioenergetics so you know what to eat, when to eat it, and what is going on inside your body when you do eat.

We are still taking enrollment for our Certified Personal Trainer Program. For more information about our programs, please reach out!


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