Exercise and nutrition go hand in hand—no matter how much time and energy you channel into one, you won’t get the physical results you’re after without the other.
All bodies reflect the cumulative effect of choices across all aspects of your lifestyle, which is why a healthy body can be difficult for many clients to achieve without a long-term strategy.
Because of this relationship, personal trainers provide clients with nutrition insights to help them reach their fitness goals—whether they’re aiming to lose weight, get fit or build muscle.
Nutrition For Every Stage
1. Before Training Starts
Nutrition plays a key part at every stage of a personal training journey, beginning before clients set foot on the treadmill. As part of developing a program, trainers will first need to conduct a pre-exercise health screening that identifies any risks or barriers to accommodate.
This includes existing unhealthy diets, as well as restricted diets. This can be as simple as gluten-free, or more specific such as FODMAP.
2. Planning A Program
After identifying client goals, personal trainers can assess strengths and weaknesses and tailor programs to clients. Depending on the scope of the training, nutrition programs can vary dramatically.
If the client goal is weight loss, a personal trainer can advise on low calorie, high protein diets that reflect an overall energy deficit.
Alternatively, a muscle growth program might call for a high protein, high carbohydrate diet to be revised after a 12 week cycle.
It’s essential for trainers to provide tips, guidelines and ideas that assists clients to approach their new diet and exercise routine effectively and consistently.
Here are some examples of how personal trainers can address client pain-points:
- If clients are feeling tired throughout the day, it may be appropriate to suggest eating more protein regularly. This could mean 4 small meals throughout the day to avoid snacking.
- If clients want to be empowered to take a closer look at their diet, provide them with recipes for snacking that detail their micro and macro nutrients, rather than health-based convenience foods.
- On the other hand, if a client is time poor and has money to spend, they may want to outsource their cooking. It’s important to understand the nutritional differences between ready-meal companies, particularly for clients with diet restrictions.
3. Monitoring Progress
Much more than simply designing a plan, personal trainers are responsible for helping clients adhere to it. This including using a personal training client tracking sheet. If a client doesn’t see the results they expect, trainers will be able to use the sheet to provide general advice, such as:
- Opting for foods low in sugar and saturated fats
- Caffeine substitutes and water intake requirements
- Reducing portions incrementally to prevent feelings of hunger
- Choosing complex carbohydrates to keep feeling full for longer
If clients want to learn more, trainers can advise them to take a more proactive approach to their health with a nutrition course or online fitness course.
4. Optimising Long-Term Outcomes
Weight-loss and fitness journeys don’t end once a client has achieved their initial milestone. If clients want to see the long-term effectiveness of personal training, trainers need to develop long-term plans that break down into short- and medium-term goals.
This allows not only the personal trainer to manage client expectations more effectively, but it gives the client context on the overall impact a lifestyle change can have.
A Personal Trainer’s Role
One of the key benefits of working with a personal trainer is the one-on-one working relationship. It means that clients’ individual needs are taken into consideration when developing a tailored program across fitness, strength, and lifestyle.
Naturally, nutrition falls under this category. Without an understanding of a client’s diet, a trainer will struggle to execute an effectively tailored program.
However, personal trainers are not nutritionists. What they can do is advise on general, industry-endorsed nutritional information, as well as assisting clients within their Scope of Practice.
This includes information from Government resources such as The Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Eat for Health Program, which is taught in online fitness courses such as those at the Academy of Sport.
Common Nutrition and Exercise Myths
Myth #1: Avoid Carbs for Weight Loss
Unfortunately, carbohydrates have earned a bad rap thanks to fad diets and misinformation. In reality, slightly over half of your diet should be made up of carbohydrates, and they can actually aid in weight loss by making you feel fuller for longer.
This is the effect of complex carbohydrates, which take longer to digest. They also help distribute energy from your food more evenly throughout the day.
Myth #2: Losing Weight is Linear
Some weeks a client might lose up to a kilogram of weight or more, and others they might not lose any weight at all.
This can be frustrating, but it’s important to remember the client’s long-term goals before jumping to a quick solution.
Similarly, a client can become frustrated if their weight-lifting progression plateaus. Depending on training history and diet—like weight loss—a training program may have to be carefully revised.
Myth #3: Just Eat Less to Lose Weight
Weight loss is achieved through burning more calories than are consumed, also known as a caloric deficit. This is why increasing exercise and reducing calorie intake is seen as an effective strategy.
Unfortunately, simplistic approaches like this can come apart quickly as there is no long-term strategy in place. As a result, most people that follow such a program gain their weight back soon after life gets in the way.
This is why a slow and steady wins the weight loss race.
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in the personal training industry, you can combine your passion and your motivation to help others. Get started with an online fitness course today.