Three Ways Fitness Professionals Can Support Healthy Eating in Clients
Achieving comprehensive health and fitness isn’t just about what happens in the gym. It’s also about what happens in the kitchen. The takeaway for gym-goers? In order to reach their wellness goals, they need to focus on both exercise and diet.
But how much of this falls under the domain of certified personal trainers? Here’s a closer look at the important role fitness professionals can play in helping your members reach their comprehensive goal through a winning combination of working out and eating right, along with three tips aimed at best supporting their clients.
The Planning/Coaching Conundrum
Depending on their backgrounds and qualifications, fitness professionals may be capable of creating diet plans for their clients. However, just because they can, doesn’t mean they should. Says the American Council on Exercise (ACE), “It is outside a fitness professional’s scope of practice to create meal plans -- only registered dietitians are qualified to make special meal plans for individuals.”
This doesn’t mean fitness professionals are powerless when it comes to helping their clients eat right. Continues ACE, “The difference comes down to nutrition planning (outside scope of practice) vs. nutrition coaching (within scope of practice). If you’ve ever played a sport, think about your coach. He or she didn’t tell you exactly what to do and when, right? Rather your coach gave you skills, drills and strategies so that you could come up with the right solution to whatever you faced in the game.”
The same applies to fitness professionals and nutrition coaching. While personal trainers should not be designing meal plans for their clients, they can provide tools and resources designed to encourage members toward healthy, positive choices.
Three Nutrition Coaching Tips
All of which begs the question: How, specifically, can fitness professionals help boost member nutrition toward achieving their fitness objective? These three tips can help:
1. Go over the USDA Dietary Guidelines
Many clients simply don’t understand the basics of nutrition, including everything from how to read food labels to how many calories they should be eating. Remember: it’s not the job of a personal trainer to recommend one diet or another. However, making clients aware of the general recommended guidelines can help them make their own informed choices.
2. Recommend and regularly review food journals.
From identifying opportunities for healthier cooking techniques to substitutions to correcting portion sizes, personal trainers can offer useful insights into a client’s diet and eating habits. Additionally, encouraging members to keep food journals also promotes accountability.
3. Reinforce the importance of meal planning and preparation.
While personal trainers aren’t meal planners, they can reinforce the importance of meal planning as a healthy habit. Says ACE, “Busy schedules mean many people are constantly eating on the go. For these clients, it’s crucial that you help them learn how to prepare food ahead of time or how to put together quick and healthy meals on the fly. Teach clients how to dedicate one night per week to preparing food for the whole week, which helps alleviate the stress on those nights where they’re just too tired to cook. Show clients how to make a few large meals that can be frozen and reheated at a later date (which can be scheduled on the calendar so they don’t forget about them).”
A good rule of thumb when evaluating the line between fitness professionals and registered dietitians? The role of the fitness professional is entirely educational in nature as it pertains to diet. In other words, while it is not in the job description of the typical personal trainer to tell clients what to eat and when, trainers can still play an active part in helping clients reap the many benefits of nutritious eating by empowering them through information to make their own healthy choices.
Fitness monitoring technology can also be an effective way for your fitness business to support members in their weight loss efforts. Learn more about how Accurofit can help today.