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What Does a Nutritionist Do for Weight Loss?

Marie Funk, MS, RD, LDN

Published in Weight Loss

8 min read

September 26, 2023
a balanced plate of healthy foods
a balanced plate of healthy foods

“How to lose weight” is probably one of the more common Google searches out there, and for many people, it’s an intractable mystery. Miracle weight loss programs are touted as one-size-fits-all remedies—but more often than not, they’re either riddled with side-effects, or don’t even work to begin with. 

The truth is that healthy weight loss can look entirely different from one person to the next. And with that degree of specificity to the individual, it can be a real uphill battle trying to lose weight while following general advice, rather than with a detailed, highly personalized plan of action.

If you relate to this struggle, read on to find out how exactly a qualified nutritionist can support you in reaching your health goals and improving your eating habits.

Challenges of Losing Weight Without Help

challenges with weight loss

Without personalized help and coaching, it’s easy to feel lost in a sea of conflicting advice on healthy eating. Obesity levels are on the rise in America, but having the right tools at your disposal if losing weight and body fat is your goal can be beneficial.

Here are some of the potential weight loss challenges a registered dietitian nutritionist or certified nutrition specialist can help you navigate and overcome.

1) Imbalanced Nutrient and Calorie Intake

Whether it’s overeating or undereating—ingesting a surplus of calories with a deficit of nutrients, or consuming too few calories for your body to function optimally—the result can often be the same. These eating patterns often can result in undesired weight gain, increased cravings, and difficulty maintaining your weight. 

Unfortunately, weight loss is more complicated than is commonly understood, and really, it’s no surprise that so many people feel helpless when it comes to weight management.

How a Nutritionist Helps

A qualified nutritionist can help you take a closer look at your current diet and nutritional needs. From there, they can help you construct, from the ground up, a detailed meal plan that fulfills all of your dietary needs in an optimal way, while also conforming to your respective budget and personal preferences.

2) Inappropriate Meal Timing

a girl about to eat her meal

When it comes to weight loss and weight management, it’s not just what you eat—it’s also when you eat. Research shows that meal timing and specifically late-night eating can have a powerful impact on body weight. This can pose a significant problem for people who work night-shifts, or for those who have other lifestyle factors that may make it difficult to determine optimal meal timing.

How a Nutritionist Helps

This is another area where a nutritionist can prove invaluable. Working with a nutritionist can cut out a lot of the guess-work here, helping you determine the best times, portion sizes, and frequency for your daily meals.

As with other areas of health, this can vary widely from person to person. By working closely with you and analyzing your body’s response to different changes, a nutritionist can help you to zero-in on a nutritional routine that best suits your unique physiology, helping you to feel your best and achieve your healthy weight. 

3) Exercising Too Little or Too Much

When it comes to improving your overall health, it’s all about balance. Physical activity, too, requires a similar degree of balancing in order to impart its many health benefits. On the one hand, a sedentary lifestyle has a high correlation with weight gain, among other adverse health risks; at the same time, overexercising can lead to fatigue, glucose intolerance, and even injury. 

How a Nutritionist Helps

A nutritionist can help you find that sweet spot between too little and too much to form healthy habits that last. By working with you closely, they can help you ensure that you’re doing enough to achieve the results you desire, while making sure that you’re properly fueling your body for exercise.

4) Not Drinking Enough Water 

someone holding a glass of water

Staying hydrated is a huge part of a healthy lifestyle. According to studies, it’s also a big part of losing weight. And yet, underhydration is rampant, with many adults having a daily fluid intake far short of what their body needs

It can be a genuine challenge to determine what your daily fluid intake should be, and to then enact a plan for meeting that requirement each day. 

How a Nutritionist Helps

Here, once again, a nutritionist comes in handy. With the help of a nutritionist, it’s a breeze to not only determine how much water your body needs each day, but also to devise a plan to meet those needs as well as to enact this important lifestyle change successfully and sustainably. 

5) Setting Unrealistic Weight Loss Goals

Losing weight takes time, and it’s no walk in the park. You’ll need effort, patience, and plenty of motivation. It doesn’t happen overnight, and it can be all too easy to become discouraged when the results you desire don’t seem to be manifesting. 

How a Nutritionist Helps

A nutritionist can help you determine weight loss goals that are realistic, achievable, and above all, healthy and safe. They understand that you have habits, preferences, and attitudes that are completely unique to you—and are able to help you devise a plan to meet your goals and hold you accountable to reaching them.

Strategies Nutritionists Use to Help People Lose Weight

how a nutritionist can support your weight loss goal

Losing weight with the help of a nutritionist involves a certain amount of trial and error—it’s a dynamic process that responds to feedback from your body. The great thing about this is: your nutritionist is constantly analyzing your response to different lifestyle and dietary changes, then tailoring things accordingly.

By first looking at your current lifestyle and diet, then suggesting changes that will help you towards your weight loss goals, your nutritionist can help you optimize your lifestyle for sustainable weight loss—all in a manner that suits you.

Here are some specific strategies your nutritionist may implement to help you get started on your weight loss journey.

Build a Customized Approach to Nutrition and Diet Plans Catered to You

From your dietary needs to your specific food preferences, a nutritionist will work with you to devise a nutritional plan that not only helps you look and feel your best, but that also suits your particular tastes.

They’ll be able to help you find your carbohydrate tolerance, incorporate lean protein and healthy fat sources into your diet, and ensure you’re getting all the other important nutrients you need in a healthy diet. It’s all about personalization—ingredients and recipes that you’ll enjoy, and that your body will enjoy, too!

Provide Nutritional Education

a nutritionist holding a clipboard

Nutritionists can also educate you on the “why” behind the foods you eat and advise you on which types of foods can help push you towards your goals, and which ones will likely hold you back. With nutrition counseling, you’ll receive guidance to help you create a dietary plan that can support healthy blood sugar levels while also giving you the tools you need to make better choices.

Support Behavior Modification

Sometimes, nothing is harder than changing an old habit or instilling a new one. That’s where a nutritionist comes in. They are experts at helping people change their lifestyle for the better, and in a way that works for each person’s specific needs and preferences.

Making healthy changes is an essential part of any weight loss journey, but every journey moves at its own pace—your nutritionist understands this, and they will work with you, on your own terms, to help you realize your goals.

Offer Lifestyle Recommendations

a woman with a cgm reading a book

You’d be surprised how a few small dietary changes can completely transform your life. This is the nutritionist’s bread-and-butter—the little ripples you can make today that will become waves further down the road. By understanding your current lifestyle and your intended goals, your nutritionist can help bridge that gap with lifestyle suggestions that will set you on the path to healthy weight loss.

Help Monitor Your Progress and Analyze Results

Helping you get started is just one aspect of what a nutritionist does. But by engaging with your progress along the way, your nutritionist can hold you accountable and ensure that you’re on the optimal path to realizing your goals. They can help you tweak your routine to keep you motivated and moving forward smoothly.

Emphasize the Importance of the Mind-Body Connection

Weight loss is as much a mental journey as it is a physical one. Your mental health is just as important as the habits you’re implementing. Pursuing a goal and reaping the fruits of that pursuit have as much of an inward dimension as they do an external one. Your nutritionist is there to help you with both sides of the mind-body coin.

Help Set Long-Term Goals

a notebook with goals for the year

Losing weight and developing a healthier lifestyle are more than just temporary goals—they’re new ways of living that will last you a lifetime. For a nutritionist, the goal is not simply to help you lose a certain amount of weight in a certain timeframe, but rather, to help you cultivate the knowledge and tools necessary to thrive in the long-term.

While short-term goals are great and provide an invaluable feeling of accomplishment, true wellness is an ongoing journey, one that your nutritionist wants to ensure you’re amply equipped for in the long-term.

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Your blood sugar levels can significantly impact how your body feels and functions. That’s why stable blood glucose levels can be an important factor in supporting overall wellbeing.

With Nutrisense, you’ll be able to track your blood glucose levels over time using a CGM, so you can make lifestyle choices that support healthy living.

When you join the Nutrisense CGM program, our team of credentialed dietitians and nutritionists are available for additional support and guidance to help you reach your goals.

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Heather Davis, MS, RDN, LDN

Reviewed by: Heather Davis, MS, RDN, LDN

Heather is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN, LDN), subject matter expert, and technical writer, with a master's degree in nutrition science from Bastyr University. She has a specialty in neuroendocrinology and has been working in the field of nutrition—including nutrition research, education, medical writing, and clinical integrative and functional nutrition—for over 15 years.

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