Find a Nutritionist


"Having the CISSN gives me the confidence in providing sports nutrition advice as well as maximizing my patient's health and performance."  Erik Bustillo RD CISSN

"The CISSN credential is great!  It is essential if you are working with both recreational and elite athletes."  -  Arlene Semeco RD CISSN, world-class swimmer

Summary of how to study for and then take the CISSN exam

1.  Buy this book.  Read it from cover to cover.  Memorize all of the salient facts and concepts. 

2.  Answer all of the questions in this study guide.  Memorize the answers.

3.  Read all of the ISSN Position Stands.  Memorize all of the salient facts and concepts. 

4.  Read all of the latest articles (within the last 2 years) published in the JISSN. 

5.  After several weeks of studying, you are then ready to take the CISSN exam.  (Note: the best way to maintain your CEUs for the CISSN is to 1) maintain your membership and 2) attend an ISSN Conference 3 times every 5 years).

What does CISSN stand for?

Certified Sports Nutritionist from the International Society of Sports Nutrition.  The CISSN is the premier certification in the field of sports nutrition and supplementation.

Who should take CISSN?

  • Exercise Physiologists
  • Fitness Professionals
  • Nurse Practitioners
  • Nutritionists
  • Personal Trainers
  • Sport Dietitians
  • Sports Nutritionists
  • Strength and Conditioning Professionals

Do I have to be a member of the ISSN to take the CISSN Exam?

No. However, it is mandatory that you are an ISSN member in order to maintain your CISSN credential.

Why should you earn the CISSN?

It is critical for all health/fitness/medical professionals who work with athletes or active individuals to have a fundamental understanding of the adaptive response to exercise and the role that nutrition plays in the acute and chronic response to exercise.  Think of the bicycle analogy. The two wheels on a bicycle represent exercise training and nutrition.  If one is faulty or inadequate, then you will end up with a dysfunctional bicycle.  Sports nutrition and exercise training are intimately related.  You can not provide good information on one aspect without knowing the other.  Furthermore, sports nutrition is NOT the sole purview of exercise physiologists or dietitians.  Sports nutrition is its own unique field that requires academic and real-world specialization and training.

Is the CISSN exam recognized?

The CISSN is recognized by the leaders of applied exercise nutrition (not sports dietetics, but rather sports nutrition). In addition, the CISSN has been coordinated by leading professors, professionals, health educators and researchers. The exam which is often given in concert with ISSN conferences.  Our conferences are available for continuing education credits by such associations as the ADA, NSCA, ACSM, NATA, APTA, ACE, IDEA and others. Sports nutrition is not medical nutrition therapy; however the CISSN is solely responsible for making sure that his or her practice of sports nutrition is within any state or Federal guidelines.

What are the requirements to be eligible to take the CISSN examination?

It is required that you have a 4-year undergraduate college degreeAre there EXCEPTIONS TO THIS?  Yes.  If you are currently a senior undergraduate student majoring in Exercise Science, Kinesiology, Nutrition or related field, then you are eligible to take the CISSN.

What if you have a 4-year degree in an unrelated field?

If you have a 4-year degree in an unrelated field (e.g. psychology, sociology, liberal arts, etc), you are still eligible to take the exam.  However, it is highly recommended (but not mandatory)  that you take and pass a semester long college/university level course in Sports Nutrition or related class. (Note: If you take a Sports Nutrition course at your local college or university, each school may have pre-requisites that you may need to fulfill prior to taking the sports nutrition course).

Also, if you hold one of the following certificates and an unrelated degree, you are also eligible to take the CISSN. 

Can I still take the CISSN examination even if I do not meet the initial requirements?

Alternatively, if you meet ALL of the requirements below (and do not have a 4-year degree), you can take the CISSN exam.

  • The individual must be practicing in the field for at least five years and be a paid member of The ISSN.
  • The individual must at least be certified as a trainer by the NSCA, ACE or ACSM (CPT or HFI respectively).
  • The individual must have attended (with proof) at least three ISSN National Conferences in the past 4 years.

Are there any state-by-state (United States) regulations regarding Sports Nutrition?

There are no state-by-state regulations for becoming a Certified Sports Nutritionist. The purpose of the CISSN is to demonstrate a threshold level of knowledge in the field of sports nutrition.  There are currently individuals with the CISSN throughout the United States and in several foreign countries.  Legally, personal trainers can and do provide sports nutrition information or education to clients for the purpose of enhancing physical performance as well as body composition.  With regards to MNT or medical nutrition therapy, in addition to RDs, many non-RD professionals are indeed official MNT providers for Medicare.  Also, MNT is in many state licensing statutes, where many non-RDs are licensed, and legally can and do perform MNT.  Before providing any fee for service nutrition guidance or counseling that might involve medical nutrition therapy (i.e., nutritional plans, assessment for diabetics, people with high blood pressure or heart disease, etc), please check with your particular state laws and guidelines.  If you are non-USA resident, please check the laws in your country.

What is the main difference between the CISSN and ISSN-SNS Certifications?

The CISSN is more advanced; it is the preferred certification for those who wish to provide more detailed sports nutrition information to their clients.  The SNS focuses more on the applied aspects of sports nutrition and is meant for those who do not have a 4-year degree or do not have a formal educational background in exercise science and/or sports nutrition.  Individuals who wish to attain the SNS are likely to be personal trainers who work in the fitness industry; however, the certification is open to all individuals. The SNS provides working knowledge for personal trainers and fitness advocates to offer information on sports nutrition and supplement strategies. This certification will not provide the expertise or education necessary to work with patients who require medical nutrition therapy*.

Do you have to score 100% on the test to pass it?

If you pass the 220-question (multiple choice, true or false format) online examination with a score of 70% or higher, you will be awarded the CISSN.

How do you prepare for the CISSN?

It is suggested you study at least one month for the CISSN Exam.  Use the textbook (see below) as the primary study guide and read all of the ISSN Position Stands published in JISSN. 

What book and/or study guide will help you prepare for the CISSN?

There are two main ones to choose from.

1)  Sports Nutrition and Performance Enhancing Supplements Eds. Abbie Smith-Ryan and Jose Antonio. ISBN: 1-60797-339-1 (Publisher:  Linus - )

2) Essentials of Sports Nutrition and Supplements Antonio, J.; Kalman, D.; Stout, J.R.; Greenwood, M.; Willoughby, D.S.; Haff, G.G. (Eds.) 2008, Approx. 875 p. 123 illus. With CD-ROM., Hardcover, ISBN: 978-1-58829-611-5. 

Other books, recommended but not required: 

1) Nutritional Supplements in Sports and Exercise by Mike Greenwood, Douglas Kalman and Jose Antonio. (2008).

2) Essentials of Creatine in Sports and Health by Jeffrey R. Stout, Jose Antonio, and Douglas Kalman (2007).


Is there a way to study online for the CISSN?

Yes. You can take the ISSN Diploma course which provides distance learning to help you prepare for the CISSN. 

Where and when can I take the CISSN examination?

1) You can take it at any of the pre-designated test sites.

2)  You can take it online at ANY time.  However, if you take it with a group (6 individuals who are non-students but are Professional members) setting proctored by a fitness/gym owner, you will receive a 50% off discount coupon code.  If you are a student member and take it with a group of at least 6 total students proctored in a unversity setting, then you will receive a 75% off discount coupon code.  Discounts do not apply to paper and pencil exams. Individuals do not receive discounts.

What is a passing score for the CISSN?

If you correctly answer with a 70% or greater, you will earn the CISSN.  If you do pass, in order to receive the certificate, you must be a paid member of the ISSN.

Can you re-take the exam if you do not pass?

Yes. There are no limits to how many times you can take the exam. 

Will you receive a numerical score or a pass/fail grading?

You will receive an automated email notifying if you passed or failed.  If you take the pencil and paper exam, those typically take 7-10 business days before you are notified.

How do I maintain CEUs for the CISSN?

ISSN will randomly select individuals with the CISSN certification and request evidence that they have met the CEU requirements. Please keep any and all proof of registration and accomplishment as it applies to CISSN Continuing Education Units.  Below is listed some ways to maintain CEUs.

However, it is mandatory that all CISSN (and SNS) certified individuals maintain an active ISSN membership.

NOTE:  Certificates for CEUs are emailed out only to those who specifically request them.  Email 

If I can not attend any of the events below for CEUs, is there an alternative way to attain CEUs? 

The best way is to take the Online Quiz for CEUs.  See below.  (This is a great option for those who do not live in North America).

If I pass the CISSN and receive a certificate, can I get another certificate if mine gets lost or stolen?

Yes.  But you need to pay a $15 dollar processing fee.

How long is the certification valid if I don't maintain an active membership?

Two years.  For instance, if you got certified on January 1, 2014, it would expire on Jan 1, 2016.  Then you would need to re-take the exam.

What are CEUs?

You need to earn 1 CEU per year to maintain the CISSN or 5 CEU every five years. It is mandatory that you are a member of the ISSN to maintain your CISSN certification.   The EASIEST way to maintain CEUs for the CISSN is by attending the national conference or by completing the online quiz available at this link:

  • Present at the national or regional ISSN Conference - 1 CEU
  • Serve as President, VP, Secretary or Student Representative or ISSN Volunteer - 1 CEU
  • Publish in the JISSN - 1 CEU
  • Attend national or a regional ISSN conference - 1 CEU
  • Complete an online CEU Quiz - 1 CEU - this is a popular choice among non-USA residents. One every year is enough to satisfy the CEU requirements.
  • Note: it is your responsibility to keep track of your CEUs.  Individuals will be randomly audited to determine if they are meeting the requirements.
  • If you have further questions about the CISSN or SNS Exams, please contact Douglas Kalman, PhD, RD, FISSN at



Big Box Bottom
Countdown to ISSN-Rutgers - Piscataway Township,
BCount Down Spacer
-3 -8 -59
Become a Member
Renew Your Membership
Register Now For The Conference
Get Certified
Yahoo Groups