*The NTA course list is subject to change, but these were some of my favorite books from the required reading curriculum! I knew when I saw the book list that this course was for me. 😍
Does this sound like you?
- You love all things real food and nutrition
- You can’t get enough information when you find a topic you love. You’ve been devouring book after book and podcast after podcast on nutrition and the healing power of real food
- You’ve been on a journey of healing yourself or ones you love by changing your food habits
- Now, you want to make more progress, or take it to the next level (or switch careers) and start helping others around you
If those resonate with you, guess what: I was at the exact same place a few years ago! After much research, I found a program that aligned with my values and could help me shift to a career in nutrition I was dreaming about.
I did my nutrition study through the Nutritional Therapy Association and got my certification as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP). The NTP classes are mostly online, but there are three in-person workshop weekends throughout the year, and there are locations in major cities all across the US, plus Australia and New Zealand. (There is also a totally online Nutritional Therapy Consultant program, if you can’t make it to workshop weekends.)
The program was one of the most life-changing things I’ve ever done. Read on to see my full review of the program, and to find out if this program might be right for you, too!
What’s the NTA’s philosophy on food?
Unlike most other nutrition schools, the Nutritional Therapy Association has a focus on bioindividuality; that is, that each person has unique dietary needs and there is no one size fits all approach. Personally, I wanted something that did not lean vegan or vegetarian or had “low-fat, whole-grain, calories-in-calories-out” thinking.
The NTA’s philosophy behind the teaching is heavily based on the nutritional pioneers, particularly the work of Dr. Weston A. Price (who studied robust and healthy indigenous societies who were not yet touched by the “foods of commerce”, particularly white flour and white sugar) and Dr. Francis Pottenger (who demonstrated degeneration through multiple generations of cats on a nutrient-poor diet, but also found the effect was reversible).
The curriculum itself is structured around the Foundations of Nutrition: that is, the essential “pillars” of nutrition that all support each other. When one gets out of whack, you can bet the others get out of whack, too. These are:
- A properly prepared, nutrient-dense diet
- Blood Sugar
- Fatty Acids
Of these, I like to explain that Digestion is King and Blood Sugar is Queen. We talk about poop a lot in this class! 😂
What the properly-prepared, nutrient-dense diet looks like will differ from person to person, though some of the healing foods you could recommend as a practitioner are those you are likely already familiar with if you’ve been involved in paleo, keto, the slow food movement, or the Weston A. Price Foundation communities: bone broth, grass-fed meats and dairy, organ meats, fermented and cultured foods, soaking/sprouting/fermenting all grains, nuts and seeds, an emphasis on ethical food sourcing, and so on. If you’re coming from the Paleo/Primal, keto, real food, or WAPF lifestyles, you’ll fit in perfectly here.
What’s the structure of the class and how much time will I need to devote each week?
The basic structure of the NTP program right now is 17 class modules (but check the NTA website for the most up-to-date information in the Course Catalog):
- Module 0: Welcome
- Module 1: Basics of Nutrition
- Module 2: Evolution of the Modern Diet
- Module 3: The Client Consultation Process
- Module 4: Introduction to Anatomy & Physiology
- Module 5: Digestion & Elimination
- Module 6: Blood Sugar Regulation
- Module 7: Essential Fatty Acid Balance
- Module 8: Mineral Balance
- Module 9: Hydration & Urinary System
- Module 10: Endocrine System
- Module 11: Allergies & Immune
- Module 12: Cardiovascular Health
- Module 13: Sleep, Stress & Movement
- Module 14: Environmental Factors
- Module 15: Metabolic Clearing & Detoxification
- Module 16: Performance Nutrition
- Module 17: Practice Resources
You work your way through the modules in the NTA’s online classroom called Brightspace. Here’s a sneak peek of what the student area in Brightspace looks like. (Click on the images to make them bigger.)
Most of the modules last one week, although there are a couple that are two weeks long. You do get a couple weeks’ break after the first and second workshop weekend and you can catch up in case you’re behind.
Most of the course is done online, but there are three in-person workshop weekends throughout the year, in locations all over the US (and Australia and New Zealand).
The modules involve:
- Video Lectures: Videos for each module are taught by different NTA Lead Instructors
- Audio Lectures: These are not required, but they are there if you want to listen to them
- Required Reading: The list of required reading is here. (This list was how I KNEW this program was for me! I had about half of them already!)
- Essays or Book Reviews: Don’t be intimidated by this. The essays are more like explaining a concept simply in a few sentences, in the same way you could explain it to a client. The book reviews are also just a handful of questions; they mostly just want to know you’ve read and understand the main concepts in the book.
- Video Calls: Every other week, you have a video call over Zoom led by your lead instructor, where there is time for Q&A and going over case studies.
The NTA recommends allowing 15-20 hours per week to complete the videos, audio lectures, required reading and homework.
You are only tested on the content in the videos, so you don’t have to know the required reading backwards and forwards (phew!).
It definitely is like a part-time job, but it’s doable. I worked full time at the same time.
What is the Functional Evaluation?
Don’t worry… this sounds super intimidating, but I promise it’s not! In the workshop weekends, you learn something called the Functional Evaluation (FE), which is an assessment tool you can use with clients. It just gives us as practitioners an idea of where there might be some imbalance in the body.
You’ll learn a series of palpations (touch points) on the body that relate to the foundations and other body systems (Digestion, Blood Sugar, Fatty Acids, Endocrine, Immune, Detox, etc).
The FE results are sort of like a puzzle piece, and you use the other puzzle pieces of information from your client (their Nutritional Assessment Questionnaire, an Initial Interview, and a 3-day Food Journal) to give them a list of recommendations to get them to where they want to go.
You’ll work with two practice clients of your choosing throughout the year, applying what you have learned and developing a personalized plan for them.
What is Nutritional Therapy and what will I learn? Is it a license to practice nutrition?
The modules start with the five “foundations” that we all need to have in balance for optimal health, and then further modules explore deeper into other systems in the body and how the foundations impact the health of those symptoms.
Put very simply, we learn about how the body is supposed to function, what can go wrong, and what we need to do in terms of re-balancing the foundations to support that function.
Nutritional Therapy Practitioners are not licensed practitioners, so we don’t diagnose or treat; instead, we educate and inform. We don’t “put people” on a nutritional plan, but we can make recommendations. We look at signs and symptoms to get some clues about which systems of the body might need support, and we learn how to prioritize what we address first.
In the United States, each state differs in its laws of who is allowed to say they practice nutrition. In some states, only licensed practitioners can say they practice nutrition. I recommend you check out NutritionAdvocacy.org to see what the laws are in your state BEFORE you decide to make the investment in tuition and factor that into your decision.
What does the NTP program cost?
As of this writing, tuition is $5400 for the NTP program, which in my opinion, is an absolute steal for what you get.
There are, however, materials that you need to purchase for the course, so keep this in mind when considering cost.
All together, the cost of my materials worked out to be roughly another $600. This will change depending on what materials you might already own. Some expenses you’ll need to keep in mind are:
- Required books for the class (the final book list will be given to you before you do your class)
- A massage table (here’s the one I bought)
- A stethoscope (here’s the one I bought)
- A blood pressure cuff (here’s the one I bought)
- A pen light (here’s the one I bought)
- 6.0-8.0 pH tape (here’s the one I bought)
- A 2-hole puncher for your client folders (here’s the one I bought)
- A supplement test kit to use during the Functional Evaluation process
- Travel and accommodation for the workshop weekends (it’s cheaper if you share with classmates!)
There are a few different supplement companies that are trusted by the NTA and are in the classroom for use in the LNT process. It’s strongly emphasized that supplementation is not to be used as a Band-Aid, but it should be used to support a properly prepared, nutrient-dense diet and healthy lifestyle habits. You can’t out-supplement a bad diet.
If you want to save some money, if you know a graduate, see if you can borrow their books. Then, you can decide which you want to buy for yourself later.
Are there prerequisites or do I need prior experience?
You don’t need any prior schooling or experience in nutrition, food, health, or fitness before you do the program. You just have to sign up before the class fills up (and the more popular venues fill up fast).
There are lots of great certification programs out there that you might decide to do as part of the required Continuing Education Units you need, but the NTP program gives you everything you need to know for success and to set up your own business right out of the gate. You’ll have all the knowledge you need to start your own practice.
Where are the classes held?
For the NTP class, you can get a list of locations here. Classes start in February, May, and September.
How do I pay for my tuition? Are there scholarships?
You pay for tuition up front. The NTA works with a credit union to provide loans, but they also have a Payment Plan if you want to pay in installments.
There is also a scholarship fund that is based on both needs and merit and the NTA takes applications for the scholarship before each cycle.
What certification will I hold?
At the end of the program, you become a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP).
The NTA also has another certification to become a Nutritional Therapy Consultant, and that course is totally online, so if you can’t make it to workshop weekends, that one is a good option! Here’s a good explanation of the differences between the NTP and NTC program.
What can I do with my certification?
NTA graduates go on to do all kinds of things! Personally, I have written two books, I teach classes, and I have done some freelance writing.
Some things other graduates have done:
- Set up their own practice and take clients from their home or an office
- Work alongside naturopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, or other functional medicine practitioners (a main benefit there is being able to take insurance for services)
- Create wellness membership programs
- Create and sell wellness products
- Write books
- Start a podcast
- Develop certification programs
- Teach group classes and seminars
- Build an audience as an influencer online and earn affiliate income
- Run corporate wellness programs
- Be an in-house nutritionist for a company or university
A lot of it is up to you and what you decide you want to do.
One caveat: If you really wish to break into something like a hospital environment, it might require getting a license, such as an RD. That can also be a bit of a battle because those sorts of environments normally still subscribe to conventional wisdom about nutrition, such as fat, cholesterol, and red meat being bad for you. Evidence points to the contrary, and we learn in our class about WHY these things are not only not bad, but essential to the body’s proper functioning. But, that’s a big ship to turn around. For now, we have to do some swimming upstream.
Should I do the NTA program?
When I was looking for a nutrition program, I wanted something that:
- Allowed me to get my nutrition business up and running quickly
- Had a reasonable tuition cost
- Aligned with my worldview in terms of food and sustainability
- Was robust and helped me to understand structure and function of the body’s systems
If that aligns with what you’re looking for, I’d say the Nutritional Therapy Association would be a good fit for you.
It really is a bit like a masters program. It’s powerful information that will help you and your family to heal!
Deciding to go through the NTP program was one of the most life-changing things I’ve ever done, and I know the other people in my class would agree.
After going through my own health journey, losing weight and improving my anxiety, depression, skin and periods, eating real food became my passion and I decided that I wanted nothing more than to help other people get better too. The thing that most stood out to me in that first weekend is that feeling of finding your tribe: people that are just like you, that get it, that have the same passions as you (and often a similar personality).
It’s a very intensive course―essentially two years of study packed into nine months. By the end, you are bonded to your classmates because you’ve been in the trenches together! Like many important things in life, some parts were hard, but it was so worth it. I’ve developed friendships and connections that will last a lifetime. I have learned so much about how the body works and I feel empowered to take care of myself, my family and my clients. And probably the very best thing that happened was that I met my husband in the class while he was also a student―not a bad return on investment! We now both work for the NTA, so you could say we’ve come full circle!
If you want to start or augment your career in nutrition, I would absolutely recommend the program. Don’t worry if you think you don’t know very much now. You’ll get equipped with everything you need to know to be an effective NTP with a thriving practice.
What if I’m not yet ready to do the course, but want to in the future?
If you want to do the NTP course but finances or some other life reasons are holding you back right now, a good way to get a head start in the meantime is to read the books at the top of this post and brush up on your anatomy and physiology. I really like the Crash Course videos on YouTube for Anatomy & Physiology; they are super well done and so funny, which makes the material so much more fun and easy to learn.
I am more than happy to answer questions about the NTA or the NTP program! If you have questions, please write them in the comments section below and I’ll be happy to answer them, or shoot me an email using the contact form on my website.
If you do decide to start the program, be sure to write whoever told you about the program on the application! If you do, they get a referral reward. (I’m not eligible because I am on staff, but if someone else referred you to the program, please list their name―they will be very grateful to get a check, and when you graduate, you’ll be eligible to get referral rewards, too!)