Nutrition for Weight Loss

Learn to explain all aspects of how nutrition affects Weight Loss.
Who should study this course?
  • Health and allied health professionals
  • Fitness leaders and personal trainers
  • Anyone seeking to better manage their own obesity problems
  • People working with food
  • Anyone who is passionate about health and wellbeing
ACS Student Comment: Absolutely [the course was a valuable learning experience]! Gave me confidence and knowledge to start my own small business and help others with health and weight loss... My tutor was brilliant! She replied to questions promptly and my assignments were always returned quickly with useful critique. She was extremely helpful and supportive and I cannot thank her enough! I am very impressed with ACS from start to finish! I have attended other tertiary institutions before and attended university and have never had such a smooth and positive experience as the one with ACS. Lisa McDonald, Aus - Nutrition For Weight Loss course. 


Weight is not just affected by what you eat, but also how much you eat, and how your body uses and processes your food. In today's world obesity is more often than not, affected by things that the sufferer (and often their doctors), doesn't understand at all. Scientific research is constantly revealing factors that we have not been considering in the past. Consider; when a body is inflamed, dehydrated, has improper gut health, and/or is exercising too little; food simply will not be digested properly.

This course is a journey of dscovery, guided by experienced and well qualified health scientists who have a holistic outlook on weight loss management




Here's what is covered by each leson:

There are nine lessons in this course as follows:

1. Understanding Obesity

  • Types of Obesity 
  • Dietary Trends and the Incidence of Obesity
  • Factors Influencing Food Intake and Habits
  • Physiological factors which determine food intake
  • Environmental and behavioural factors which determine food intake:
  • Causes of Obesity (Genetics, Lifestyle, Exercise, Eating habits, Water intake, Changing metabolism through life, Medical conditions and disease, Psychology)
  • Health Risks of Obesity
  • Understanding Weight
  • Body composition
  • Evaluation Techniques – Body Mass Index (BMI)

2. Nutrition Basics

  • Why we need food
  • Nutrient Reference Value (NRV)
  • Understanding Digestion and Absorption
  • How we process food
  • Basic Roles of Major Digestive Organs
  • Food Composition (Carbohydrates, Protens, Fats, etc)
  • Fibre
  • Need for Fluids
  • The Glycaemic Index (GI)
  • Calculating Energy Requirements
  • Basal Metabolic Rate
  • Food Pyramid and Recommended Daily Intake (RDI)
  • What is the recommended intake of nutrients?
  • New food pyramid and normal eating patterns
  • Childhood Obesity

3. Diets -Fads, Fiction and Fact

  • A Review of Popular Approaches to Weight Loss and Control
  • Vegetarian Diets
  • Starvation
  • Very Low Calorie and Liquid Diets
  • Commercial Low Calorie Meal Substitutes
  • Commercial Low Calorie Meal Substitutes
  • Blood type diet
  • Food combining
  • Detox Diets
  • Low carbohydrate diets
  • Low Glycaemic index diet (low GI)
  • Sweeteners
  • Low fat diets
  • Fat Substitutes
  • Fat burning diets
  • Supplements
  • Guidelines for Childhood Weight Loss

4. Preventing Obesity

  • Introduction
  • Metabolism – Keeping the Metabolic Rate Stable
  • Making the best food choices
  • Nutritional Education
  • Teaching Healthy Eating Habits to Children
  • Health Initiatives Targeting Obesity
  • Public Health Information
  • Legislative controls

5. Treating Obesity

  • Methods that Work
  • Assessment of Clients or Patients
  • Modifying Behaviour
  • Prescribing Diets
  • Life Coach and Personal Trainer
  • Weight Loss Hypnosis
  • Self-help Groups
  • Health Clubs, Health Farms and Holiday Retreats
  • A Holistic Approach
  • Supplements

6. Modifying Eating Behaviour

  • Key Stages in Behaviour Changes
  • Cultural food patterns
  • How to Make Lifelong Changes
  • Assess Current Diet (patterns and nutritional value)
  • Plan for Change
  • Seek Motivation and Support from Others
  • Improving Health Through Food
  • Diseases Linked to Obesity
  • Changing Unhealthy Habits

7. Restricting Calorie Intake

  • Understanding Energy and Metabolism
  • Metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Age (Growth and Aging) and Metabolism
  • Activity and Metabolism
  • Calorie Restricted Diets

8. Medical Conditions: Hormones, Drugs, Eating Disorders

  • Nutrition During Disease
  • Childhood Diabetes
  • Link between Medication and Diet
  • Drugs and Hormones Prescribed for Weight Management
  • Diet Pills
  • Thyroid hormone
  • Somatropin (Growth Hormone
  • Weight Loss Surgery
  • Lipoplasty (Liposuction)
  • Abdominoplasty (Tummy tuck)
  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Bulimia Nervosa

9. Planning a Diet

  • A major Problem Based Learning Project


Duration of this Course:  100 hours.... study at your own pace from anywhere in the world. The average student might take 3 or 4 months to complete this, but if you apply yourself, it can be done in 1 month; or you can spread it out over a year or more.



There are many different approaches to weight loss. Some work for some people, but not others. Some are tried and proven, and some are based more on hearsay than solid proof.

As a consultant, you need to understand all the possible approaches to weight loss; understand your client's unique situation, and help them to become more aware, as well as motivate them to act.

Vegetarian diets

There is research to show that vegetarians are less likely to be overweight than non vegetarians. This is due to the fact that, on average, vegetarians consume less fat and fewer calories than non vegetarians. It is important to realise that switching to a vegetarian diet does not, however, guarantee weight loss. Vegetarian diets must be planned to ensure they have good balance of nutrients. For example, it is important that vegetarians eat a range of protein sources to ensure they obtain all the essential amino acids needed for health. Vitamin B12 may also be lacking if eggs and dairy foods are avoided, in this case a vitamin B12 supplement will be required.


This is the most severe form of dieting and involves a severe reduction in energy vitamin and nutrient intake. Prolonged starvation can cause permanent organ damage and eventual death. Starvation for shorter periods also causes problems. When the body goes into starvation mode, metabolism slows down in an effort to conserve energy, and thus calories are burned at a much slower rate.

Very Low Calorie and Liquid Diets

These usually provide between 400 and 600kcals day in the form of liquid shakes. The benefit of these diets is that they offer rapid weight loss for those with a lot of weight to lose - over 19 Kg. Side effects include diarrhoea and weight loss. Low calorie liquid diets are also generally low in dietary fibre and can be lacking in essential nutrients. In addition, Studies have also shown that weight loss achieved while following a low calorie liquid diet plan is rarely sustained, many dieters regain as much as 75% of weight lost, within 3 years. Due to the low calorie content, these liquid diets are unsafe unless medically prescribed and supervised and are not suitable for children.

Commercial Low Calorie Meal Substitutes

Meal substitutes offer a calorie controlled nutritionally complete plan. The benefit of these plans is that they are easy to follow and remove ‘decision anxiety’ over what to eat. These diets are useful for people who don’t prepare meals. Potential problems include taste fatigue and problems with long term adherence to the diet.

Commercial Pre-Prepared Meals

There are a wide range of pre-prepared meals available in supermarkets and health food stores. Some of these meals are healthy choices providing a balance of protein, carbohydrate, fat and fibre. The advantage of these meals is that they offer preset portions and nutritional information including calories and fat is readily available on the package label. On the downside, pre prepared meals can be expensive and as with low calorie meal substitutes, they do not teach habits for long term weight control. Some pre prepared meals also have a high salt content which can potentially raise blood pressure

Blood Type diet

This diet claims blood type determines what foods you should eat e.g. people with blood type ‘O’ should follow a high protein low carbohydrate diet to clear the blood of lectins, sugar binding proteins, which cause ill health. Some foods are avoided according depending on your blood type. The weight loss plans provide approximately 4200kJ (1000 kcal) per day and supplements are recommended to ensure the diet is nutritionally adequate. The main drawback to this diet is that there are no controlled trials or evidence to support claims that lectins and health and weight control are linked. Excluding food groups also causes potential nutrient deficiencies.

Food combining

The basis for this diet is that protein and carbohydrates are not mixed at the same meal. Advocates of the diet claim that mixing foods causes poor digestion and slows down metabolism. On the plus side, followers of this diet have shown weight loss that is comparable with healthy eating plans. The food combining diet also allows you to eat a variety of foods so that overall, you will receive all the macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, protein) and vitamins and minerals needed for good health. On the downside, scientists believe that any success from this diet is due to a reduction in calories rather than the food combining element itself. There is no scientific evidence to support the theory behind food combining diets that we are unable to digest protein at the same time as carbohydrate. Also many foods that we think belong into the protein or carbohydrate category actually fall into both e.g. bread and pulses.

Detox diets

Generally permit fruit, vegetables, herbs, pulses, nuts, seeds, wheat free grains and cereals, oils and water. These diets claim to make us feel healthier with weight loss being an added benefit. These diets may be nutritionally inadequate which is of concern if the diet is followed for long or frequent periods. Weight loss is often promoted however there is no evidence to suggest that weight loss is due to anything other than reduced calorie intake.

Low carbohydrate diets

Examples include Atkins, Protein Power and Carb Addicts. Short term effects include rapid initial weight loss, mostly associated with loss of body fluids, headaches, lethargy, loss of appetite (helpful for weight loss) Constipation. In the long term loss of body fat may be achieved although many studies indicate that weight loss results from an involuntary reduction in daily calorie intake rather than a consequence of the carbohydrate restriction itself. When considering the use of this diet with children it is important to realise that the diet involves virtually cutting out an entire food group. Carbohydrates provide the body with the fuel it needs for physical activity and for proper organ function. Carbohydrate-rich foods are also rich sources of vitamins (particularly B-vitamins and folate), minerals (including Iron and Zinc), as well as fibre and phytochemicals (other natural components of food found to be beneficial for health). At present it is also unclear re the effects of following low carbohydrate diets in the longer term and we must await the results of long term studies into the effect of these diets on heart, bone and bowel health.

Low Glycaemic index diet (low GI)

Rather than cutting out carbohydrates, there is better evidence to support the benefit of modifying the type of carbohydrates in our diet by following a low GI diet. The basis of this diet is that some carbohydrate foods such as white bread, sugary drinks, and pastries are rapidly digested causing a rapid but short lived rise in your blood sugar level. This leaves you lacking in energy and feeling hungry after a relatively short period of time. Thus people who regularly choose high GI foods are more likely to snack between meals and are more susceptible to overeating and weight gain and may contribute to weight gain, interfere with weight loss and increase our risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. Against this, foods with low GI value slowly release sugar into the blood, providing you with a steady supply of energy, leaving you feeling satisfied longer so that you're less likely to snack. Foods with a low GI value include apples, porridge, whole meal spaghetti and chick peas. One drawback to the GI diet is that the GI tables can prove confusing and it is hard to identify the GI value of a meal. Some foods with a low GI value are also high in fat and/or salt and contain few nutrients for example, chocolate and crisps, have a low GI value but are high in fat and contain few vitamins and minerals. It is therefore important that advice to follow a low GI diet is supported with low fat dietary guidelines.
Do You Realize Hormones can Affect Weight too. Leptin is one example of this.

This is a hormone involved in the regulation of energy intake and expenditure. Leptin is produced by the adipose tissue itself. It is now understood and generally accepted that adipose tissues (fat cells) are considered to be an active endocrine gland. In other words, the fat cells produce something – inflammatory substances and hormones.

Adipose tissue secretes leptin into the blood stream. Like all hormones they are picked up by receptors in a destination away from the site of secretion, from there another instruction or signal is produced. On the surface of every cell in the body we have receptors. Leptin communicates with cells via the receptors. Leptin resistance takes place when cells remove the leptin receptors from the surface of the cell membrane.

In the case of leptin, the receptors are found in the hypothalamus in the brain. The hypothalamus receives information about how much fat is available in the body as a result of how much leptin is produced (available in the bloodstream). The clever thing about this system of control is that the hypothalamus then directs the body to carry out process to break down the fat itself. Yes… the fat produces the signal for itself to be utilised as an energy source.

When working properly, this proves to be an efficient system of weight control. Let’s consider the differences in leptin secretion levels in three scenarios.

The normal weight person:

1. Leptin is sent to the brain.
2. The brain receives the signal.
3. Sufficient fat reserves are understood to exist.
4. No trigger to eat issued therefore appetite is kept under control (remember there’s no need to increase fat stores = no famine).
5. Metabolism remains constant.
An underweight person:

1. Low level fat stores secretes lesser quantities of leptin.
2. Less leptin is detected by the hypothalamus.
3. Few quantities are detected by the receptors on the hypothalamus.
4. The body ‘thinks’ there is not enough fat stores in the body (for potential future famine).
5. The hypothalamus triggers signals to eat and so we feel hungry.
6. Metabolism slows down at this point to conserve energy supplies in the body.
7. (In extreme cases gluconeogenesis takes place).

Resistance in the system:

1. High quantity of adipose tissues secretes leptin in huge amounts.
2. Leptin travels to the brain, but the in the case of resistance, the receptors in the brain cells are damaged and cannot be communicated with by leptin.
3. The body ‘thinks’ that fat tissue is low.
4. Subsequently the brain does not then send out the correct signal to utilise the fat as an energy source so the tissue (stores) remain in place. Quite simply put, the hypothalamus doesn’t get the message to act on the fat cells for energy.
5. As the signals in the body determine the actions, the body survives the period of starvation which may be upon the body and therefore it slows the metabolism and increases appetite.

Many other hormones are involved in the suppression of appetite which is not covered in this lesson. The calories in and calories out approach undertaken alongside excessive exercise can cause the body to think it is experiencing a famine situation.

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