Health Coach vs. Life Coach

hello lovely,

The coaching industry seems to be a rapidly growing industry. More and more people are working with coaches and more people are wanting to become coaches. But the question is what type of coach? Currently the two most popular types of coaches are Health coaches and Life Coaches.

I have been through both the Institute For Integrative Nutrition (IIN) Health Coaching Course and the Beautiful You Coaching Academy (BYCA) Life Coaching Course so in this post I'm going to break down the difference between the two types of coaches so that you can choose the right course for you.

IIN Health Coach

Definition: ‘A Health Coach is a guide and mentor who empowers clients to take responsibility for their own health and supports them to implement and sustain lifestyle and behaviour changes that will contribute to the achievement of their personal wellness goals.’

Health Coaching is focused on working with clients to achieve their wellness goals. Clients usually come to a Health Coach because they are looking to improve their health and adopt a healthier lifestyle.

Health Coaches are not Nutritionists, Naturopaths or Doctors. They work with people who are generally healthy but with mild health complaints such as sugar cravings, headaches, fatigue, weight gain, stress, digestion etc; people who are not sick but know that their general state of health is not optimal.

Although IIN teaches over 100 dietary theories, they maintain that there is no one best diet for everyone. They teach what they call Bio-individuality; that everyone’s dietary needs are different at different stages in their life.

As such Health Coaches not only educate their clients on healthy food but also help them to become self sufficient and learn how to listen to their body’s in order to determine the best diet and lifestyle for themselves.


Health Coaches also teach what IIN calls primary foods which are the 4 other key forms of nourishment: relationships, physical activity, career and spirituality.

These four primary foods are important because, even if you have the cleanest diet in the world, but any of these other four areas is lacking you'll likely feel unbalanced and stressed, which science now is proving is a major factor in causing illness.

The primary foods aspect is where Health Coaching and Life Coaching begin to cross over. There certainly is a life coaching aspect to Health Coaching. For some clients the health complaints act as a doorway into a much deeper assessment of themselves and their life.

It is not unusual for a coaching series to evolve from in the beginning being about the food to focusing on career and spirituality. However that is not the focus of a Health Coach. The focus is to help the client achieve their health and wellness goals. Some clients may indeed discover that what they are really after is a deeper spiritual connection for example, but for others their focus will remain on integrating healthy diet and exercise habits.

BYCA Life Coach

Definition: ‘Enabling powerful and personally affirming life change through the enhancement of self.’

The BYCA model of Life Coaching is very much focused on the self and self-actualisation i.e. realising ones full potential / true self.

Beautiful You Life Coaches work with clients to support them to make meaningful change in their lives in order to achieve their goals and dreams. Those dreams could be anything ranging from career, health and wellbeing, self confidence, self love, relationship, creativity to spirituality.

Typically clients seek out a Life Coach because they feel that there is something missing from their life and some may even feel generally lost and uncertain of who they are and what they want in life.

Ultimately life coaching is about helping people to become the person they always wanted to be.

While IIN and Health Coaches utilise goals, BYCA has a heavy focus on heart centred, feelings based goals. Beautiful You coaches work with clients to set deep and meaningful goals by helping them to dig deep into the goals and look at how they want to feel in achieving the goal.

This approach helps clients to understand why they want to achieve their goals and uncover the deeper meaning of the goal to them.

Health Coaching vs Life Coaching

In summary the main differences between health and life coaching are:

Health v Life Coaching 1
Health v Life Coaching 1

My Experience

I was initially attracted to IIN because I thought that once I had perfect physical health then my life wall magically fall into place and I’d be eternally happy. I’d be the person I always wanted to be. However IIN’s teaching on primary foods planted the seed in my mind that this was not necessarily the case.

Going through the IIN course was basically going through my own coaching program. It unlocked me to so many things that I didn’t know about myself, to a point where I almost didn’t know who I was anymore. It was a year of huge change for me.

Through this process (which is actually a lifelong process) I really did come to realise that it really had very little to do with the food. I begun getting into my own inner work and trying to figure out how to become the person I always wanted to be, if food was no longer going to get me there.

Even though I loved IIN and believe that it was a crucial part of my journey, I wanted to help myself on a deeper level. I wanted to make permanent transformations in myself and embrace who I am completely and whole heartedly. And I wanted to help others do the same.

I no longer wanted to educate people about healthy food and help them make lifestyle changes (although I think this is very important). I wanted to work with people who wanted to go in deep. Who wanted to get really honest with themselves and embrace their truth.

I also wanted to do all this in a caring, nurturing and loving way. I wanted something that was focused on self love and empowering people to be who they truly are because that’s what I also wanted for myself.

It was this search that lead me to BYCA. It fit the bill perfectly.

Choosing the Right Course

Having been through both courses, I have recommend both courses to different people for different reasons. It depends on what you are looking for. To help you decide which course is best for you I have created this table. See which statements ring most true for you.


A Few More Considerations...

If you are like me, then you probably agree with most of those statements. So if you are still unsure of which course is right for you here are a few more things to consider in helping you make your decision.

You determine your own style of coaching: No matter what course you do, you are free to develop your own style of coaching. Therefore you can bring in your passion for health and wellness into your Life Coaching or your passion for helping people becoming the person they always wanted to be in your Health Coaching.

Niche markets:  You get to determine your niche market i.e. the types of clients you want to work with. You then market yourself accordingly. Maybe you’ll be the Health and Self Confidence Coach or the Life and Wellness Coach.

IIN v BYCA Teaching and Coaching Styles: The general principles of coaching are the same but IIN and BYCA have slightly different approaches to coaching.  It is therefore worthwhile considering which teaching and coaching style is most resonant with you and the type of coach you want to be.

IIN is an American school and this was reflected in their coaching /communication model. Their approach is more on the formal side, which suits the American market. Being Australian, some of the recommendations felt a little uncomfortable to me. Us Australians are a bit more laid back and informal in our interactions so some of the things they taught, in relation to ways of doing business and interacting with potential and existing clients didn't feel like me. But that was ok, I took what I liked and left what I didn’t.

Having said that, the IIN coaching model is very flexible as it is not so heavily focused on goals. The goals are there but IIN teaches its students to let the client lead the session and talk about what has come up for them. There is not a constant referral back to the goals which lends the coaching series to evolve and shift focus if need be.


BYCA on the other hand is Aussie owned and operated. Therefore the teaching and coaching style was much more resonant with me. I found the coaching style and business model to be less formal and very strongly grounded in authenticity. That’s not to say that IIN was inauthentic, just that BYCA placed a stronger emphasis on students being true to themselves as individuals and as coaches.

The BYCA model also focuses on heart centred, feelings based goal setting with the aim of getting to the heart of what the client is truly seeking. The IIN model does not go so deep into goal setting as the BYCA does.

Although somewhat more structured in its use of goals, the BYCA grounding in the feelings of the goals and the action steps also allows for the coaching series to be flexible and evolve with the client.

Final Word

Hopefully this post has given you a better understanding of Health and Life Coaches and the IIN and BYCA courses. Both courses are great for their own reasons and the decision is now up to you as to which one feels right for you. Go with your gut instinct. It’s usually right. Besides I don’t think you can go wrong with either course.