What is a Weight Loss Registered Dietitian / Weight Loss Nutritionist?

A registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) is a person who has completed licensure as a dietitian (dietitian is the preferred spelling vs. dietician). To apply for a dietitian license, the individual must have completed a minimum of a bachelor’s degree, a period of supervised practice (internship), and receive national accreditation as a registered dietitian (RD) / registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN).

Dietitian vs. Nutritionist

Many people think that the terms “Dietitian” and “Nutritionist” are interchangeable. While related, the difference lies in their training. Only a nutritionist that becomes registered with the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR) may legally declare herself as a registered dietitian.

The following are the criteria required to earn the RDN credential:

  • Earned a minimum of a bachelor’s degree at a US accredited university or college
  • Completed a supervised practice program at a healthcare facility or community agency lasting up to one year
  • Passed a national accreditation examination
  • Ongoing requirement to complete continuing professional education

Unlike dietitians, the title of “Nutritionist” is often free from government regulation. Many states allow a person to practice as a “Nutritionist” without any previous education, training or work experience.

In short, oftentimes anybody can call themselves a “Nutritionist.” But only with proper training, experience and licensing can a person use the title “Registered Dietitian Nutritionist.”

At Clinical Nutrition Center, we have always required our dietitians to have the full Registered Dietitian Nutritionist accreditation. You can rest assured you are working with people that have achieved the highest level of training and are qualified to work with you!

Weight Loss Dietitian / Weight Loss Nutritionist

How is a registered dietitian nutritionist helpful to you in losing weight and keeping it off? Quite simply, registered dietitian nutritionists have the knowledge, training and experience to get to know you as an individual. They can learn what you like, what you don’t. They can understand those influences in your life that can make weight management a real challenge. Then, they can work with you to develop individualized strategies to help deal with these real, everyday challenges.

The registered dietitian nutritionist has received intensive training and experience to learn how to provide medical nutrition therapy (MNT) and preventive nutrition counseling. MNT is a plan developed through collaboration between the registered dietitian nutritionist, the doctor and the patient to use food as medicine in the treatment of medical diseases such as diabetes and obesity.

One part of MNT with regards to weight loss is called intensive behavioral therapy, or IBT. It has also been called intensive lifestyle intervention, or ILI. Contrary to popular belief which is that there is a magic diet on which we can achieve amazing amounts of weight loss, or that we can exercise all the pounds off, IBT/ILI has been shown to be the cornerstone of a successful weight loss program. Why? Because what we are eating is only a part of the problem. The more interesting question is why we eat the way we do.

A registered dietitian nutritionist with training and experience in weight loss can help you structure individualized food plans to achieve the weight loss. But she can also work with you to help you structure the environment and behaviors to keep the weight off. After all, many patients coming to see us report successfully losing weight before – sometimes as many as 10 to 12 times. But, unfortunately all to often the weight seems to creep back on, resulting in the body being back to the same weight or even heavier within a few months or a year.

By engaging in regular follow-up visits, working on the behaviors in addition to the structured food plan, and following up with our medical weight loss professionals, we can stack the odds in your favor to not only lose the weight but to keep it off – the hardest part. It’s not just about knowing what to do. It’s about continuing  to do it on an on-going basis. The registered dietitian nutritionist knows that keeping weight off is hard. She is there to provide support and encouragement. We have seen this model work much like piano lessons. Imagine if you decide to take piano lessons. It is more important to find a great, passionate, motivating teacher than it is to purchase a priceless Steinway. And, the frequency of lessons matters. For a new student, monthly lessons are unlikely to be adequate – most new students will take lessons weekly – often for years! For an accomplished student, perhaps every other week or even monthly coaching could work.

When we have regular lessons, we make progress. We are more likely to practice every day. But what happens if there is a period of time off? Many piano teachers take a summer break, for example. Well, from personal experience as a pianist and in observing my 3 kids who all take piano lessons, as soon as the lessons stop, so does the piano playing! During COVID-19, we have found that even a video call piano lesson over ZOOM keeps the kids playing.

The same is true about weight loss – as soon as the visits stop, the old habits seem to find their way back in. This is part of what makes keeping weight off a challenge. And this is where the registered dietitian nutritionist really excels. She can help keep you supported and motivated through the ups and downs that life throws your way.

Multi-component treatment is key

Many people trying to lose weight pick a strategy – they do this diet or that diet – keto / Southbeach / etc. They start intermittent fasting. They hire a personal trainer. They have their Family Doctor prescribe phentermine. They read the latest New York Times best seller.

Unfortunately, these one-dimensional weight loss approaches are typically doomed for failure. Obesity is a complex multi-factorial medical disease caused primarily by the expression of our genetics in the obesogenic environment we live in. A single-dimensional approach will fail to address the multitudes of reasons that contributed to the weight gain in the first place.

Unless we do the hard work to understand why you have gained weight, then we are not going to be able to help you maintain the weight loss after you lose it in the first place. That’s why at CNC, you work with an experienced weight loss team. We provide structured food plans, intensive lifestyle intervention, management of the entire medical milieu including weight-related comorbidities, we communicate with your other doctors and specialists, and we are adept at the use of weight loss medications.