Nutrition for Weight Loss

Study human nutrition and nutritional health for managing weight. Understand the relationship between food and obesity, and how modifying diet can modify weight.

Course Code: BRE210
Fee Code: S3
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment
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  • Skills and strategies to help people lose weight (and keep it off).
  • An understanding of what causes obesity, and how to prevent it.
  • Techniques to treat obesity and modify eating behaviour.
  • An understanding of the role of medical conditions, metabolism, and hormones.
  • Creating and planning diets.


  • Professionals such as Life Coaches, Personal Trainers, Occupational Therapist, and Counsellors who want to help their clients with weight management.
  • People who want to help their family and friends with their weight.
  • People who want to lose weight.
Gaining and losing weight can be complex - involving several different factors. This course focuses on nutritional aspects with a holistic approach.

How to lose weight by managing the diet:

Here are some scary facts about obesity: 
  • Obesity is one of the leading preventable causes of death worldwide.
  • Degenerative diseases are directly and indirectly linked with obesity.
  • As someone’s weight increases, so do their health risks – potentially leading to disease and premature death
Weight gain and loss is a complex process that includes factors such as genetics, lifestyle, psychology, exercise, and nutrition. This is a holistic course that focuses specifically on nutritional aspects of weight management. This practical course takes the student through a thorough understanding of obesity, factors affecting obesity, the role of food in weight gain, and ways to treat obesity and manage weight through diet.
This knowledge is vitally important in this day and age where obesity has reached epidemic proportions.

Lesson Structure

There are 9 lessons in this course:

  1. Understanding Obesity
    • What is obesity
    • ‘Types’ of Obesity ... Hyperplasia or Hypertrophy of Fats Cells
    • 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, Proteins, 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

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.

Learn More about Managing Obesity Issues

While the treatment of obesity is of clear importance, it is also essential to look at the causes of obesity and develop strategies to prevent it happening in the first place. Targeting the behaviours that lead children to become overweight can be helpful in preventing childhood obesity. These include unhealthy eating habits and a lack of physical activity and exercise.

In this lesson we shall consider which aspects of our biology and behaviour are linked with an increased risk of becoming overweight and obese. We will then discuss some tips to assist with weight management. In the second part of this lesson we will then consider how these tips can be incorporated into weight management programs before discussing the potential impact of these programs.

Tips, both to prevent obesity include:

1)   Portion control, Portion control is the cornerstone of weight management as you can eat all the right foods but if you are eating too much, this will eventually lead to weight gain.

2)   Reducing snacking.  It is important to establish daily meal and snack times rather than allow children to graze on snacks during the day. Where snacks are provided healthy options should be encouraged e.g. fruit and vegetables, low fat yoghurt, cereals

3)   Encourage physical activity, Successful health promotion help support healthy lifestyles for all children at home, in school, and in the community

4)   Encourage healthy food choices- prevention of obesity requires children and adults to choose to follow a healthy balanced diet and see high fat and high sugar snacks as ‘treats’ to have in moderation.

5)   Identify those who are likely to become overweight - this will involve early identification of people at most risk and the development of effective intervention strategies.

6)    Help your metabolism work for you.

Basal Metabolic Rate

To work out their energy requirements, people must firstly work out their own basal metabolic rate. The basal metabolic rate (BMR) is the percentage of calories ingested which are used solely for cellular functioning, heart rate and breathing rate. Generally speaking, healthy people of a normal weight and are active, in line with national averages, use approximately 65% of their calorific intake on maintaining body functions. 

Due to increased muscle mass, men normally tend to have a higher BMR than women – muscle cells require more energy to function than other cells e.g. fat cells. Also, older people generally have a lower BMR than young people.

The table below shows if someone does not follow a normal and healthy eating pattern of three main meals per day, their BMR can be affected – decreased. From this evidence we can conclude by eating frequenting (and small meals), grazing, not binging, blood glucose levels stay steady and this maintains a higher metabolic rate. If you don’t eat for long periods of time, the body stores food it takes in as fat as it is fooled into the idea the body is under famine conditions. In summary, the BMR should remain higher (normal) and blood sugar levels should remain steady by eating small meals often.

Metabolism – Keeping the Metabolic Rate Stable

The word metabolism doesn’t refer to the speed in which we use energy; it is the way in which the body uses available energy sources. So rather than talking about ‘faster’ or ‘slower’ metabolism – metabolism should be referred to as efficient or inefficient, functional or dysfunctional. There are 3 basic key points to know about in order to understand metabolism and energy expenditure:

Basal metabolic rate – this is the percentage of calories ingested which are used solely for cell functioning. You use approximately 65% of your calorific intake on maintaining your body functions.

Thermic effect of food – you use 10% of your calorie intake for maintaining the body at the correct temperature. You may have heard of extreme weight loss ideas in which people submerge themselves in ice cold baths in order to ‘burn’ calories (to maintain body temperature), thus by doing so they experience weight loss. This is definitely not recommended or recognised as safe practice, but is seen only as an example of how people will try extreme methods in the weight loss battle.

Physical activity – approximately 25% of calories ingested are expended on muscle contractions and movement. 

In order to lose weight, a person needs to reduce their calorific intake and increase their basal metabolic rate.    

Tips to increase metabolic rate:

  • To increase the basal metabolic rate, you need to increase muscle mass. Muscle cells are up to eight times more metabolically active than fat cells. In other words, muscle cells require up to eight times more energy to function than fat cells due to the nature of their role and so they burn more calories than fat does.   A person can increase muscle mass by weight-training or resistance exercising.
  • To increase the thermic effect of food, you need to focus on changing your diet to eat more high quality protein rather than carbohydrates or fats. However, you should note that complex carbohydrates burn more calories than simple carbohydrates. The difference between complex and simple carbohydrates can be described as a long chain of sugar molecules and a short chain of sugar molecules respectively.   The long chain molecule, the complex carbohydrate e.g. high-fibre cereals and vegetables – require more energy to be broken down and therefore more calories are burned to break them down. The process of the breakdown of the sugar molecules releases heat energy thus increases the thermic effect of food.
  • Avoid dehydration, as it can contribute to an inefficient metabolism, by affecting body temperature. If someone is dehydrated, their body temperature drops slightly, and causes your body to store fat as a way to help raise or maintain the temperature.  So the advice is drink approximately 2-3 litres of water per day and an additional litre for every 30 minutes of strenuous exercise so avoid this metabolic pitfall.
  • Increase exercise. By increasing physical activity and aerobic exercises, it is thought that someone’s resting metabolism is increased as muscles need to repair and recover and energy is needed in order to do so.

The increase in energy expenditure due to regular moderate exercise does not appear to be accompanied by a compensatory increase in appetite and energy intake. The biochemistry of the obese diabetic is also improved by regimes including regular physical activity. 



  • Do you need help with managing your weight? 
  • Do you want to help others manage their weight?

... if so, this course could be for you.

  • Help yourself, and help others.
  • Study at your own pace
  • Study anywhere any time
  • Get support from professional nutritional scientists & health professionals in Australia and the UK
Graduates can apply their knowledge in a range of contexts:
  • In their own homes for themselves, and their loved ones
  • In a community setting, supporting the local community
  • With their existing client base (for example for personal trainers, life coaches, and counsellors)
  • In conjunction with a health professional as a support service 
    ACS is a Member of the Complementary Medicine Association.
    ACS is a Member of the Complementary Medicine Association.
    ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
    ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.
    Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.
    Since 1999 ACS has been a recognised member of IARC (International Approval and Registration Centre). A non-profit quality management organisation servicing education.

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    Course Contributors

    The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

    Jade Sciascia

    Biologist, Business Coordinator, Government Environmental Dept, Secondary School teacher (Biology); Recruitment Consultant, Senior Supervisor in Youth Welfare, Horse Riding Instructor (part-completed) and Boarding Kennel Manager.
    Jade has a B.Sc.Biol, Dip.Professional Education, Cert IV TESOL, Cert Food Hygiene.

    Karen Lee

    Nutritional Scientist, Dietician, Teacher and Author.
    BSc. Hons. (Biological Sciences), Postgraduate Diploma Nutrition and Dietetics.
    Registered dietitian in the UK, with over 15 years working in the NHS. Karen has undertaken a number of research projects and has lectured to undergraduate university students. Has co authored two books on nutrition and several other books in health sciences.

    Lyn Quirk

    M.Prof.Ed.; Adv.Dip.Compl.Med (Naturopathy); Adv.Dip.Sports Therapy
    Over 30 years as Health Club Manager, Fitness Professional, Teacher, Coach and Business manager in health, fitness and leisure industries. As business owner and former department head for TAFE, she brings a wealth of skills and experience to her role as a tutor for ACS.

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