Should You Work With A Conventional Nutritionist Or A Functional Nutritionist?

Posted on

If you are trying to improve your health and are adjusting your diet, you may want to seek out a professional like a nutritionist. Some people may be surprised to learn that there's a wide variety of specialists that can fall under this category, such as dieticians—who typically have more education and credentials—as well as public health nutritionists, sports nutritionists, etc. Two common specialists that are suited to help individual clients are conventional nutritionists and functional nutritionists. Read on to see which specialist is right for you.

What Does a Conventional Nutritionist Do?

A conventional nutritionist helps clients follow the USDA's nutritional guidelines. About 74% of men and about 64% of women in the U.S. are overweight or obese, so following these guidelines can help many people reduce their weight and the risk of chronic disease. A conventional nutritionist can help you set up a meal plan based on your age, sex, height, current weight, and current physical activity level.

Conventional nutritionists also educate patients on the differences between macronutrients (protein, carbs, and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). For instance, a conventional nutritionist might help a client set up a MyPlate plan, which is an app run through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. These plans can help patients track their daily calorie allowance and nutrient intake.

What Does a Functional Nutritionist Do?

While conventional nutritionists can be a good starting point for many patients, they follow broad guidelines and may not always offer individualized health plans. Functional nutritionists, on the other hand, often work with a holistic provider and take other factors into consideration when coming up with meal plans.  For instance, a functional nutritionist may look at daily stressors, current illnesses/medications, and genetics when developing a meal plan.

If you often feel unwell after eating, a functional nutritionist can develop an elimination diet to make sure that you aren't allergic to anything. If you are experiencing digestive issues, like gas, diarrhea, bloating, etc. then your nutritionist may order tests to check for conditions like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). SIBO occurs when there is an imbalance in the digestive tract's bacterial strains.

Lastly, functional nutritionists may look at how emotions play a role in one's diet. A functional nutritionist can help clients look at their overall relationship with food, as some patients may struggle with overeating due to certain stressors and triggers.

Reach out to a virtual functional nutritionist to learn more.