Difference Between Diet and Nutrition

By: | Updated: Sep-4, 2022
Knowing the difference between diet and nutrition is vital if you want to lead a long and healthy life. An NPR poll has shown that over 80% of Americans do not eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. This partially explains why around 36% of American adults are obese. Everyone consumes some type of ‘diet’ though what they ingest is not necessarily nutritious. If you wish to discover the key difference between the two, read on!

Summary Table

Diet Nutrition
The sum of food consumed by a person or organism The study of how to consume a healthy, balanced diet
May imply specific nutritional intakes to achieve goals such as weight loss or better health The fuel or nutrients your body needs to be healthy


Can vary considerably. For instance, a vegan diet evades all animal products while an omnivore diet allows for the consumption of all foods, including meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables. A pescatarian diet, on the other hand, is limited to fish and produce Nutrition is centered on nutrients like amino acids, glucose, carbohydrates, and more



Diet can be defined either as the customary amount of food and beverages produced by a person every day, or a specific regiment of food that aims to meet specific nutritional requirements for an individual. A diet is not necessarily low in calories or carbohydrates, though it can be. Nutrition is both the study and the process of ingesting food and absorbing the nutrients contained in those foods.

Diet vs Nutrition

If you wish to follow a healthy diet, one of the first places you may have started is with the recommended dietary guidelines in your country of origin. In the US, the American Dietary Guidelines exist, through there are many more guidelines provided by national organizations and international ones such as the World Health Organization. In general, dietary guidelines encourage people to consume healthy foods throughout their lifespan. They cover variety, nutrient density, and amounts of food to boost boat physical and mental health and keep people at a healthy weight. Dietary guidelines recommend that people avoid refined foods and those containing added sugars, high sodium contents, and saturated fats.

The Mediterranean Diet: A Diet for All Seasons?

One of the most oft-recommended diet in terms of heart health is the Mediterranean Diet. Found in study after study to promote good heart health and optimal gut health, this diet comprises lean meats, pulses, Omega-3 fats, fruits and vegetables, nuts, and more foods. This type of diet helps battle inflammation and keep people at a healthy weight. Because it is fiber rich, it promotes a healthy gut microbiome, which helps boost mental health. Quality also matters when it comes to health. Organic produce, for instance, has been found to have a higher level of antioxidants and a lower level of heavy metals like cadmium.

Categories of Nutrients

In the same way that human beings can choose from various types of diets depending on their needs, they can also prioritize important nutrients if they wish to keep disease at bay. Nutrients can be divided into two categories: macronutrients (comprising carbohydrates, proteins, and fat) and micronutrients (made up of vitamins and minerals). Both macronutrients and micronutrients are derived from the foods that make up your diet. However, nutritionists often recommend supplements for those requiring extra nutrients. For instance, patients diagnosed with anemia are usually prescribed iron to boost their red blood cell count. Today’s variety of supplements is vast indeed, with products ranging from superfoods to nootropics, stress relievers, and natural sleep aids.

Embracing Optimal Dietary and Nutritional Principles

Although diet and nutrition are two fundamentally different concepts, you can achieve health by prioritizing both and by adding exercise into the equation. Exercise can help you achieve a healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) when utilized alongside a healthy diet. Dietary (and nutritional) needs can differ considerably depending on your age and health condition. For instance, there are three groups of people who require more calcium than others: new mothers, women over 50, and all people aged under 25 and over 70. Each group needs calcium for different reasons. New mothers, for instance, provide a host of nutrients to their growing child and their calcium levels can quickly get depleted. Mature adults, meanwhile, need to prioritize calcium to keep their bones healthy and avoid fractures. There are many more nutrients that are also required in more or less amounts by individual groups of people.
Diet and nutrition are two concepts that overlap and are often spoken off together. However, they differ in many ways. Diet can refer to the foods you eat daily or to a special regimen you are following to achieve a goal. Nutrition is both the study of the nutrients your body needs and the process of providing the macronutrients and micronutrients you need to be healthy and grow. Both should be prioritized, with most doctors recommending a Mediterranean-style diet. In some cases (depending on age and health needs), specific regimens may be recommended.
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