Last month, I earned my Level 1 Precision Nutrition certification, and I'll start by saying that despite the hefty price tag ($828.00 for me, financed at $69 a month), it is worth every penny.
Nutrition has been a massive interest of mine since recovering from an eating disorder. I did not merely want to learn the basics, but I wanted to be able to further my knowledge and actually apply it. Precision Nutrition does just that. I had looked into other nutrition certifications, but a lot of people stated that while they learned the science behind nutrition, the certifications never taught them how to actually apply it. Of course, PN's section on applying nutrition does make the scope of practice for a trainer a little fuzzy. After all, many CPT certifications will tell you to refer out for more in-depth nutrition counseling. PN, however, gives you the tools to counsel on your own while making a point that medical nutrition therapy is off-limits for fitness professionals without a license in dietetics.
This course taught me a variety of new information that I did not learn from my own certification and even supplementary resources on nutrition. I learned the science behind why fats such as mono and polyunsaturated fats are so good for the body's cells; what losing fat in some places while being unable to lose fat in other places can mean; an unbiased look into the efficacy of supplements; specific dietary needs of athletes; pre and post-workout nutrition; nutritional formulas for different body types and dietary goals; nutrition for competition days; how differing diets, such as high-fat, high-protein, ect. influence body composition; how cells specifically react to macronutrients; and basically anything you learn in a nutrition degree with all the fluff removed.
So how does Precision Nutrition function? Well, they open spots up I believe two times a year, and the spaces are limited. You can get on their per-registration list, which makes the certification cheaper. However, the fierce competition for spots means you need to register fast so that way you can secure your place. Why there are limited spots, I haven't the slightest clue. I suspect it's a marketing ploy, but I wasn't too concerned about that.
The studying of this certification can be set to own's own pace. I took about four months to receive this certification, mostly because there was a period of time where I wasn't studying it. The course recommends that you study a chapter a week, but when I really got back into the course, I studied a chapter a day since I didn't have any difficulties with absorbing the information. I also didn't find the certification too difficult to earn, although I have read accounts from others who state the certification overall was difficult for them. In the past, they required that you pass a timed comprehensive exam, but now it seems you take a quiz every chapter, and all of your correct answers create a cumulative score at the end that determines a pass or fail. If you fail, you do have to take a comprehensive exam that is timed. Even so, despite the obvious open-book nature of the quizzes, you still need to read the chapters so that way you understand what the quiz questions are even asking. To challenge myself, I took all of the quizzes with a closed book. While Precision Nutrition argues in favor of open book due to a trainer's career naturally being an open book, having certain information already ingrained in your mind can make answering the nutrition questions of your clients easier.
Precision Nutrition also offers a workbook with questions you can complete after every chapter read. This certainly helps to solidify what you've read, as a lot of the quizzes' questions do come from the workbook. They also offer videos, which can help to solidify the information, but I wish the videos would have been more classroom-like, with Dr. Berardi actually offering the lectures and not just video slides; thus, the videos were rather boring. However, this is the only criticism I have for the certification.
Overall, I feel this certification has adequately prepared me to address the nutritional needs of my clients, barring medical nutritional therapy, which the book obviously does not cover. This is the one text I actually keep on top of my desk; the information contained within is just too excellent to simply shelve the book. I plan to write plenty of nutrition articles based on what I've learned from this course.