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Can a Nutritionist Help You Lose Weight? In Most Cases, Yes

8 min read
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Melissa Mitri post Reviewer Melissa Mitri post Reviewer
Verified by Melissa Mitri
MS, Registered Dietitian, Former President of CT Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics

Table of Contents

If you have struggled with your weight, you may have considered seeing a nutritionist for weight loss. When you see a dietitian to lose weight, they will provide dietary therapy that can help you in many ways.

What Do Nutritionists Do?

Nutritionists are experts with experience in nutrition counseling for weight loss and improving health outcomes.

There are several types of degrees and certifications associated with becoming a nutritionist, and many are specialized in certain areas like weight management, diabetes, or heart disease. 

Nutritionist Certification

Two of the most popular and widely accepted nutritionist credentials are Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist (RDN) and Clinical Nutrition Specialist (CNS). These professionals practice a type of counseling called medical nutrition therapy or clinical nutrition, which means they can educate and advise clients on dietary habits for specific disease states. 

In the United States, to become an RDN, an individual must graduate with at least an undergraduate degree in a related nutrition field, complete a 1200-hour internship, and pass a national licensing exam. Additionally, a Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist must continue learning by obtaining a certain number of continuing education units per year. The path to becoming a CNS is similar and equally rigorous. [1]

In other words, you can rest assured that RDNs and CNSs are a go-to source of accurate and evidence-based nutrition information. 

Nutritionists can work in various settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, kitchens, corporate positions, etc. However, this article will cover how a nutritionist working in nutrition counseling and education can help you lose weight. 

10 Ways Nutritionists Can Help You Lose Weight

Now that we have covered what a nutritionist is and what they can do, let’s walk through ten ways a nutritionist can help you lose weight. Read on!

๐Ÿ‹ Teaching you portion control

A nutritionist is trained to educate you on appropriate portions to lose weight. Portion sizes are critical since so many meals served in restaurants tend to be very large. 

To help demonstrate portion sizes, a nutritionist may show you physical food models, the MyPlate model, or they could teach you measurement analogies, such as a serving of fish is about the size of a deck of cards. [2]

๐Ÿ‹ Prescribing the appropriate calorie and macronutrient breakdown

Nutritionists can calculate a healthy calorie range to ensure you are eating enough but still losing weight at an appropriate rate. Additionally, they may provide more specific recommendations for protein, carbohydrate, and fat intake for your diet. 

๐Ÿ‹ Helping you change your habits

A nutritionist can help you identify any unhealthy habits related to your eating and figure out ways to improve those habits. Over time, these changes can lead to healthy weight loss.

๐Ÿ‹ Helping you adopt new, healthier habits to replace old ones

When you change your habits, you naturally develop new ones. A nutritionist can guide you to healthier eating habits to help meet your weight-loss goals.

๐Ÿ‹ Providing meal planning guidance

Nutritionists are experienced in meal planning and are often equipped with recipes and meal ideas to fit even the busiest lifestyles. Speak with a nutritionist about your schedule and dietary preferences to help create the perfect meal plan for you. 

๐Ÿ‹ Helping you navigate eating out and social situations

Nutritionists acknowledge that food is for so much more than just sheer survival. Eating is a very social activity that often involves eating outside of the home.

A nutritionist can help you figure out balanced choices at your favorite restaurants. Additionally, they may discuss portion sizing since restaurants often provide very large portions that can sometimes be split with another person. You could also save half for another meal. 

๐Ÿ‹ Providing exercise recommendations

While a nutritionist cannot prescribe specific exercises to perform, they can emphasize the national guidelines for physical activity to support a healthy weight. 

For example, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic physical activity each week. [3]

๐Ÿ‹ Helping you set up your environment for success

As an objective third party, a nutritionist will be able to see how your environment can impact your weight-loss goals. They can help you analyze your routines and systems to help you succeed. 

For example, letโ€™s say you always wake up late for work and never have time to pack a balanced and filling lunch. This can lead to you going out and grabbing food from the nearest drive-thru. A nutritionist may suggest packing a healthy lunch the night before so you can grab it on your way out the door in the morning!

๐Ÿ‹ Providing accountability to stay motivated

Working with a nutritionist is a partnership in which you are supported without judgment on your journey to lose weight. You can ask a nutritionist any question you have and if they cannot answer they will put you in the right direction!

You can gain accountability through working with a nutritionist because you are not alone. The nutritionist can also give you feedback to help you when you find yourself struggling with your weight-loss goals.

๐Ÿ‹ Implementing strategies for managing stress and emotional eating

If you struggle with eating due to stress or emotional eating, a nutritionist can help by providing tips and strategies to combat those habits. This may involve discussing practical ways to reduce emotional eating. They can also provide meal and snack ideas that keep you feeling full and satisfied to reduce the temptation to eat more.

3 Cases When a Nutritionist May Refer You to Other Professionals

However, there are also some possible situations in which a nutritionist may need to refer to the help of other health professionals for additional weight-loss support. Weight loss is possible through working only with a dietitian, though it poses more of a challenge in certain situations. 

In those cases, other healthcare professionals can work with you and your nutritionist to give you the best possible care. 

You have an active eating disorder or a history of an eating disorder or disordered eating

A situation in which a nutritionist may need to call upon the help of other healthcare professionals is if disordered eating or eating disorder behaviors are occurring. 

Suppose you have an eating disorder or have experienced an eating disorder or disordered eating patterns in the past. In that case, a nutritionist may recommend and refer you to a clinical therapist or psychologist to work on the psychological aspects of eating. Working with both a nutritionist and a therapist can help you get the most appropriate care for your eating disorder.

You are taking medications that cause weight gain

Additionally, certain medications increase your appetite and, therefore, can contribute to weight gain. For example, some antidepressant medications have the potential to increase your appetite. 

While a nutritionist can work with you to provide tips to feel full and satisfied with your meals, your primary care physician can address whether the medication needs to be adjusted.

You have a medical condition, such as hypothyroidism or PCOS

There are also medical conditions that can cause weight gain. A nutritionist can definitely help you manage your weight even if you have one of those conditions. However, if your medical situation is uncontrolled, it is essential that you work with your physician to manage the condition first before trying to lose weight. 

Therefore, in that case, a nutritionist may refer you to your primary care physician for medical management before continuing to work together for weight loss.

Final Words

Letโ€™s recap some of the key points we have discussed in this article. 

  • RDNs and CNSs are qualified nutritionists that have gone through many years of education, training, and experience. 
  • A nutritionist can help you lose weight through education, such as teaching you portion control or helping you utilize a weight-loss app.
  • Nutritionists can advise you on general nutrition tips, meal planning, macronutrient breakdown, exercise (to a certain extent), and stress and emotional eating strategies.
  • In nutrition therapy, you can work towards changing your habits and staying accountable.
  • There are some situations in which a nutritionist may need help from other health professionals to appropriately treat you, including if you have an eating disorder, are taking medications, or have certain medical conditions that cause weight gain.
  • If you are unsure whether a nutritionist can help you lose weight, ask! If they cannot help, they will surely refer you to an appropriate healthcare professional for your specific needs. 
Disclaimer This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!

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