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Free nutrition courses online

FREE Nutrition Courses: Are They Worth It?

If you’re wanting to kickstart your nutritionist career or expand your personal training expertise then your first thought is probably to jump online and find free nutrition courses, and why not? 

Nutrition is a holistic topic that covers a broad range of subtopics: sports nutrition and athletic performance, diet and health, macro and micronutrients, and more. It’s highly sought after in a number of sectors meaning it can quickly become a lucrative skill to have.

That being said, how far can you progress in your professional life with free online courses in nutrition?

Here at OriGym, we’ve put together this guide to help you determine whether these kinds of courses are worth looking into and how you can find the right nutrition course for your goals.

Before you read on, check out OriGym’s level 4 advanced sports nutrition course, an accredited and regulated course that will set you up for success in the field of nutrition! For a broader range of options download our FREE course prospectus.

We’re covering the following topics in this guide:

Let’s jump right in!

 

Achieve new qualifications!

Find out how you can earn your advanced sports nutrition qualification!

Do Free Nutrition Courses Exist? 

Free online nutrition courses with certificate of completion image

You may be looking to find a quick and easy way to get nutrition knowledge for a number of reasons: maybe you’re a personal trainer looking to expand your areas of expertise, or perhaps you’re looking to kick start your dream career of becoming a nutritionist.

No matter what your reasons are, the prospect of achieving your goals through nutrition courses online for free will be tantalising for most. 

But are there free courses in nutrition available that can get you started?

The simple answer here is yes, these types of courses can easily be found online with a quick cursory google search, but this comes with certain caveats. 

On the face of it, most of these courses appear to be free, however this is not always the case once you click through and find out more. 

There are a variety of courses available, some of which are actually ‘free’ whilst others come with price tags of up to £125 and more, and others require a subscription or an extra payment in advance in order to access the course content or “extra benefits”.

free nutrition courses uk

Some of these free online nutrition courses do actually supply their course content for free, allowing full access to resources without charging you. However, there are some that will charge you for a certificate or verification of passing the course, such as the example below.

free online nutrition courses

Gaining a certificate at the end of the course is important as this means you can prove that you have the required knowledge and expertise should someone ask for it. This also means that you appear more professional and reliable as people can see your credentials. 

Whilst many courses are advertised as free, more often than not there are less noticeable expenses, so keep an eye out for these as the costs can quickly add up, and the content may not be worth the price.

Unfortunately, one of the cons of being a nutritionist is that it often requires time and money to become qualified. However, there are a lot of other benefits to this role! Find out the pros and cons of being a nutritionist to decide if it's the right job for you.

Download our FREE Food Diary for your clients to set yourself apart from other nutritionists!

Free Nutrition Training: Is It Worth It? 

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For those just looking to boost their current knowledge, taking free nutrition courses online is definitely a viable option. 

With such a huge range available, you’ll be able to find courses that will cover more niche or specific areas, such as Nutrition and Health: Macronutrients and Overnutrition, as well as more holistic options that cover a broader spectrum of nutrition, such as The Science Of Nutrition And Healthy Eating, and even free online sports nutrition courses.

While these types of courses can teach you a lot, it is worth noting that you should read through the details of the course content and check out the institute providing the information, as the quality of resources will vary.

Try to find courses that state their sources, for example, if their course has been written by qualified nutritionists, as these will be more likely to be accurate. 

On the other hand, if you’re looking to work as a registered nutritionist then courses such as these may not be enough to get you to where you want to be. 

A nutritionist role can encompass a wide variety of fields and industries. This means that there are also a number of different requirements for these industries - read up on the full nutritionist job description to learn more.

Some nutritionist jobs require a full degree, such as this University of Liverpool Research Nutritionist job below.

Free online nutrition courses with certificate of completion

Other roles require only relevant experience, with nutritional knowledge and qualifications being desirable, like this Health and Fitness Coach (online) role.

Free online courses nutrition certificate

One thing that is clear is that the majority of jobs do require valid certifications from reputable award bodies.

Before investing your time (and potentially your money!) into some of the free online nutrition training courses available, it’s recommended that you do a little extra research into the industry or field that you are interested in working in. 

This will provide you with more of an idea of what kind of qualifications or courses you should be taking to get the job that you want.

What To Look For In A Reputable Nutrition Course 

If you’re serious about becoming a creditable nutritionist then there are 2 key things to look out for when trying to find free online health and nutrition courses: course regulation and course accreditation.

By checking the validity of both these factors you’ll be more likely to find a suitable course that will push your career in the right direction, rather than potentially wasting your time and money.

Let’s explain why these are important when researching free nutrition courses.

#1 - Course Regulation

Free nutrition courses uk

One of the most important aspects of online courses to be aware of is whether the nutritionist courses online, free or paid, are regulated or not. 

If you want to be professionally recognised as a nutritionist, or even known as having nutritional qualifications, then you’ll need to have passed an officially regulated course.

Plus, as we mentioned above, most job roles require certain qualifications or set out specific conditions that you’ll have to meet even to be considered for the job.

But what is course regulation exactly?

Course regulation means that Ofqual has approved the course and that the qualification is officially recognised.

Ofqual is the sister organisation to Ofsted, and as a government-run institution, Ofqual manages and approves all of the parameters and frameworks for all of the occupational examinations, assessments, and qualifications in England. 

This means that these qualifications have to meet the requirements set out by Ofqual in order to be officially recognised by companies and institutions

These requirements must be followed by all awarding bodies in order for their qualifications to be certified, including awarding bodies such as NCFE, YMCA Awards, Focus Awards, and Active IQ. 

Keep an eye out for the logos below when looking for regulated free online courses on nutrition (or other subjects too).

Nutrition Courses free image

This regulation means that courses such as the level 4 course provided by OriGym will provide the same levels of knowledge, and provide the same level of certification at the end, as other level 4 courses offered by other educational providers. 

This also means that employers can distinguish your knowledge and level of training as Ofqual regulations provide clear distinctions between level 2 courses, level 3 courses, and level 4 courses.

In relating these courses to academic qualifications, a level 2 course is the vocational equivalent of GCSE level qualifications, with level 3 equating to A Levels.  

Unfortunately, most free nutritionist courses online aren’t classified by levels, making it difficult to determine the standard of teaching that you’ll receive.

The bottom line is that taking a regulated course means your potential employers or investors, as well as you yourself, all understand what level of knowledge and training you’ll achieve once you’ve passed the course.  

Are Free Nutrition Courses (UK) Regulated?

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Unfortunately, the short answer here is no. The majority of the online free nutrition courses that we looked into had no signs of official regulation (and most of them weren’t even free despite advertising as such). 

This means that it’s not really worth paying out for a certificate from these courses as they hold no real value to you or prospective employers, clients, or business partners. 

The most probable reason for free nutrition courses not being regulated is the fact that the education providers have to pay a fee to become registered with the relevant awarding body. This fee has to be paid for each student that enrols on the course. 

As these institutions (supposedly) aren’t charging anything for their free nutrition courses, they won’t have the income to cover these regulation fees, especially when you consider the overhead costs of running the company, hiring staff, maintaining websites and course content, and other business expenses. 

If you’re keeping your career options open then check out some of OriGym’s other guides:

#2 - Course Accreditation 

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This is equally as important to finding the right reputable course for career progression. Alongside being properly regulated, courses that are accredited further display the validity and professionalism of the qualifications you achieve.

However, it is worth noting that you don’t need an accredited qualification to build a career in nutrition, it's just more beneficial if you do.

Reputable course providers will ensure that their online nutrition courses (free or not) face thorough quality checks in order to meet industry standards, and this is usually provided by a third-party mediator. 

In the fitness education sector there are two main companies in charge of these important accreditations: 

  • CIMSPA (Chartered Institute of Sport & Physical Activity)
  • REPs (Register of Exercise Professionals)  

Some course providers employ both of these institutions to provide accreditation for their qualifications, including all of OriGym’s courses and diplomas!

These accreditations are crucial as these companies give the courses a stamp of approval that shows that the content and resources meet quality control standards and that your qualification meets national requirements. 

This again proves to your employers that you have the necessary knowledge and recognised qualifications, so look out for either the REPS or CIMSPA logos when researching free online nutrition courses and classes.

Online nutrition courses uk free

Plus, having a REPS or CIMSPA accredited qualification means you can also sign up for their membership which comes with a range of additional benefits, including free CPD learning, member bulletins and newsletters, a record of your professional development plus more. 

Read our article on the REPs Points System + CIMSPA Membership Explained for more information on these memberships. 

Don't forget to download your FREE food diary for clients, too!

Why You Need A Regulated & Accredited Qualification 

If you’re still unsure as to whether you should find a regulated and accredited course, we’ll explain a few areas where these points are essential.

#1 - Employer Requirements 

Online nutrition courses free

This is probably the most important reason to get a qualification that meets these criteria instead of free online courses in nutrition without a certificate at the end.

As you would probably expect, employers will be looking for candidates who can prove that they have the right knowledge and skills for the job role. Offering a seemingly random or unheard of qualification from an institution that they’ve never heard of isn’t going to get you very far for the most part, especially in a specialised area such as this.

Even if you have gained the right knowledge from some free online courses in nutrition, these employers probably won’t even give you the chance to demonstrate that if they don’t recognise your qualifications. 

Furthermore, the majority of those looking for this type of candidate will immediately check for the relevant levels of qualification - further explanation on the levels and their importance is explained in our guide on free vs paid personal training courses

Having reputable qualifications will show that you’ve got the desire and the skills to work in the industry, and the higher the qualification you’ve got the more likely your nutritionist salary is to increase!

Additionally, a good number of employers look for nutritionists registered with the Association for Nutrition (AfN). 

Free online holistic nutrition courses

The AfN is a charity and voluntary regulator designed to promote and protect UK nutrition practitioners, and they maintain the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists (UKVRN). 

To register with the UKVRN you have to hold either a BSc (Hons) or an MSc from one of the approved universities, or hold relevant qualifications and experience within the nutrition sector, as stated on their website:

“A Registered Nutritionist will have demonstrable nutrition science knowledge and understanding at a minimum of honours degree level plus (typically) at least 3 years experience (gained within the last 5 years) of evidence-based application of nutrition science in professional practice.” (Association For Nutrition, n.d.)

It is often a misconception that you need a full degree to be able to register, but actually, if you prove that you have an accredited qualification approved by the AfN as well as industry experience then you can become a Registered Nutritionist!

That means that unfortunately the majority of the free online nutritionist courses that you can find will not be approved by the AfN and therefore won’t give you the necessary progression and qualifications needed to be a Registered Nutritionist.

While it isn’t mandatory to be registered on the UKVRN, not being registered could be an obstacle in the future and slow down your professional development.

#2 - Course Quality 

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Choosing a course that is both regulated and accredited also means that you’re receiving a higher quality of course content, as by definition it has to meet standards and requirements set out by Ofqual, REPS and/or CIMSPA. 

Meeting these industry standards means that you will have to pay a bit more, but ultimately the price is worth it when you finish with high-quality content and a recognised certificate!

The amount you pay can often reflect the amount you’ll learn, so by paying next to nothing you’ll receive the same. Although not the case for all free online holistic nutrition courses, it is applicable to the larger majority.  

This is why thorough research is key in determining whether the price you pay is worth the content you’ll learn. 

That being said, whilst looking into these there can sometimes be immediate signs that the content is not going to be of a good enough quality.

One of the first signifiers is the proposed course length; how long it will take you to complete the course. The length of the courses that we looked at varied hugely, from as little as 6 and 8 hours all the way up to 350 hours.

You might be thinking that 350 hours is a long time - but when you consider that 1 year of a typical university course covers around 1200 hours, it seems much more manageable!

On the other hand, what can you expect to learn from free diet and nutrition courses in just 6 or 8 hours?

6 hours of learning is roughly the same amount of time as the average UK school day. How much did you learn in just one day at school? Certainly not enough to have worthwhile knowledge of nutrition!

 

Achieve new qualifications!

Find out how you can earn your advanced sports nutrition qualification!

Another sign that you’re not getting good quality content is the way that the providers describe the course.

Particularly with free nutritionist courses, there is often varying and conflicting terminology which immediately signifies lower-quality content. Take a look at the example below and see if you can notice any discrepancies.

free sports nutrition courses

The key terminology here that doesn’t match up is the use of ‘nutritionist’ and ‘dietician’ to describe the same role, as these two titles are not the same and the terms are not interchangeable.

There is a distinct difference between these two job roles:

  • Nutritionist is not a protected term in the UK, meaning that anyone can describe themselves as such. Technically, you don’t need a qualification to be a nutritionist but more on this is explained in our guide on how to become a nutritionist.
  • Dietician is a protected title in the UK, which then means that only people with a relevant degree can register and work as a registered dietitian.

This basically means that free holistic nutrition courses are not the same as dietician courses and should not be advertised as such!

Otherwise, it's best to check the module information and decide whether what the course will teach you is what you want to learn and apply to your career.

For an easy guide on what to look for in a reputable and high-quality course, check out the description of OriGym’s nutrition course below.

free nutrition courses online

The accreditation bodies, course length, clear and definitive descriptive of the content, as well as methods of learning and module information are all available and easily accessible.

Now that you recognise the importance of regulation and accreditation, you might think that you now have to spend huge amounts of money in order to get the best qualifications. However, that isn’t the case.

There is a balance between cost and quality that means you won’t have to choose between your bank account and your future: read our step-by-step guide below to find the right course for your nutrition goals.

Step-by-Step: Finding the Right Course

So you’ve probably realised now that finding high-quality online nutrition courses in the UK for free is pretty much impossible - but that doesn’t mean you should give up on achieving your nutrition goals!

We’re going to explain some key steps that will help you find the right course for the right price and ultimately earn the right qualification.

#1 - Price And Marketing 

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While low cost or ‘free’ nutrition training can often signify a low-quality course, the most expensive course doesn’t necessarily mean that it's the best either. 

If you’ve gone online and done some cursory research then you might automatically then go and find the most expensive course you can, under the assumption that this will be the best course.

However, this could be a costly mistake as many course providers will set the prices of their courses unreasonably high in order to draw in potential students that make these assumptions around price and quality. 

Ultimately their services will not be much better than their cheaper counterparts!

This is down to market research and marketing tactics. Companies will examine their competitors providing free nutrition courses to determine how they can attract more customers and appeal to a wider audience. Whilst these tactics benefit the course providers, they often take advantage of the consumers.

This is why it's crucial that you thoroughly look into any prospective course before enrolling, especially free nutrition courses.

One way of checking whether a course is worthwhile is by checking their Trustpilot reviews. Trustpilot only accepts reviews from real customers so you know that these are genuine people with actual experience of the company you’re looking into. 

Furthermore, if a course is too expensive for you then look elsewhere. Simply put, there will be a course of the right content, length, and accreditation for the right price! 

Before you enrol, make sure you know whether personal trainers can give nutritional advice - this can tell you if it's worth paying out for a course!

#2 - Selecting The Right Study Method 

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Choosing the right study method is an important aspect that you might not have given much thought to, but the method will have a direct impact on your learning as well as the overall price of the course. There are a variety of options with nutrition courses: free, online, face-to-face, paid, and more. 

These options are especially important to take into consideration if you have limitations on transport or getting online, or if you prefer being taught by an instructor or studying independently.

These are the main types of studying that the course providers will state on their course information:

  • Online 
  • Workshops 
  • Classroom
  • Independent 
  • Taught

Courses can be one or a combination of these study methods. 

Typically, if a course involves face-to-face teaching it will have a higher cost as the company will have to hire or rent a venue and instructors to do the teaching. 

Logically, online courses should be on the cheaper side as the company only needs to run their website and online services. Meanwhile, course providers that have those same outgoings in addition to the cost of running an educational setting will be more of a mid-range price. 

One thing to look out for is those that offer online courses and in-person courses at the same price. This is a good signifier that you’re being overcharged!

#3 - Payment Plans & Hidden Fees 

Free nutrition courses online

So if you can’t find good quality nutrition online courses for free then you at least want them to be affordable, or even cheap, right? 

This brings up another tactic often used by the course providers to boost their profits: hidden fees.

These sorts of fees can appear for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • Enrollment fees
  • Membership fees
  • Certificate of completion fees
  • Access to additional services fees
  • Full access to the content fees
  • Administrative fees
  • Exam resit fees

Your seemingly affordable nutrition course can soon become expensive when numerous hidden fees arise! Keep an eye out for these costs before you enrol.

Some providers will also offer payment plans so you can manage the costs in smaller amounts. This is a great option if you want to go for a higher cost course but haven’t got the funds to do it. 

However, this is another way for some providers to squeeze extra money out of you as they can charge extra through interest rates on their payment plans.

So before you sign up, always read the small print, and if you’re opting for a payment plan,  calculate the end price of your course to make sure you’re not paying too much.

If you’re looking for free sports nutrition courses online specifically, then check out our guide on how to become a sports nutritionist first as this will provide some helpful advice.

Conclusion

So finding free online nutrition courses with a certificate of completion can be tricky; with numerous ways of hiking up the prices, the cost can soon outweigh the benefits of the course. 

The bottom line is that thorough research is crucial in finding online nutrition training courses that are regulated and accredited, as this will ensure that the content and qualification will push your professional development in the right direction.

Now that we’ve made the process of finding the right course easier, we’re going to take that further and show you our level 4 advanced sports nutrition course which is regulated by both REPS and CIMSPA. We also offer interest-free payment plans, and provide extensive career guidance once you’ve finished the course!

Don’t forget to download our latest course prospectus, as well, as this can tell you more about our other courses and services.

Sources:

  1. Association For Nutrition (n.d.). Registered Nutritionist (RNutr). [online] Association for Nutrition. Available at: https://www.associationfornutrition.org/register/apply-registration/apply-rnutr [Accessed 25 Feb. 2021].

 

Achieve new qualifications!

Find out how you can earn your advanced sports nutrition qualification!

Written by Dee Hammond-Blackburn

Fitness Content Executive, OriGym

Join Dee on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Dee holds a BA (Hons) in English Literature, and is currently finishing her MA in Marketing Communications and Branding from Edge Hill University. Her passion for fitness and content writing brought her to OriGym, and she has since become a qualified Personal Trainer and a Sports Nutrition Specialist. Combining her skills in fitness and writing, Dee has a professional interest in fitness blogging, content creation, and social media. Outside of her writing role Dee enjoys reading, healthy cooking, and playing football with her dalmation.

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