Nutrition - A Coaches Guide
Nutrition - A Coaches Guide The point of this blog is to help new coaches make sense of all the confusion and provide a step by step process when working with a client ***If you are an experienced coach you may have developed your own methods that work for you and your clients – Great, well done and we applaud you, no need for debates here, this is just a basic guide to get people started if they feel lost in all the dogma and confusion. Nutrition is such a heated topic, a religion for many, and many diets go through a fashionable phase before dying out to be replaced by another ‘super diet that will end all diets!’
So lets just list a few of the more popular methods that have been mainstream over the last 10 years or so: Low Fat
Paleo Low GI Zone Diet
Ketogenic IIFYM ‘Clean Eating’ Sugar Detox Gluten Free ***This may be necessary for some clients so seek medical advice Intermittent Fasting And the list could go on.
And you know what all the above have in common – At some level they reduce calorie intake. Eat less fat. Eat less carbs. Eat less sugar. Eat less frequently.
What happens? Calories reduce. ***Bear in mind that as PTs we are only qualified to advise on good nutrition in line with the government recommended ‘Eat Well Plate’, however we can advise and guide on good habits and better education for our clients to make informed choices. So here is a step by step guide that we recommend for any new coaches starting to work with clients for the first time. 1. Discuss and set goals
This is a very important start to your journey with your new client an in my opinion set aside at least an hour for this (not free) and stress to the client the importance of setting nutrition goals if they want to get the best result from training with you.
At this point is very important to ask questions around lifestyle, habits, what has been holding them back, how then feel you can help and always ask them: "What is your WHY?" That one question is very powerful as we can start to develop emotional goal setting which will increase your chances of success with your new client. As you can see this is an important step with your client as you will now see them as a person who needs your help and you will really get to know them better which of course can only be a good thing. It is also worth noting then understand the difference between process and outcome goals. Yes the outcome is important, for example, client A wants to lose 20lbs by Xmas but it is the process goals that will determine the result.
A process would be eating 7 servings of vegetables a day, or learning to use Myfitness pal and tracking food intake, drinking 3 litres of water a day, getting 7-8 of sleep a night and so on. And remember it is the ’23 hours outside the gym that will determine your success’ with your client.
Can you impact their lifestyle enough through your support and education? That will also determine your success in this industry. 2. Keep a food diary Do not underestimate the power and magic of this simple tool! Keeping a diary is your first step to tracking their food intake but more important the realisation of how much they are over eating or in some cases eating too little.
At this stage keep it simple. Review the diary each week and look to introduce a simple habit each week (remember process goals) and praise them on their progress. If they are losing weight just give them their diary back and tell them to keep doing the same!
The food diary will give your client ACCOUNTABILTY and a chance for you to discuss nutrition each week.
3. Tracking progress
‘If you are not assessing you are guessing’
It is really important to track progress so that we can analyse if what we are doing is takin the client closer or further away from their goal.
Clients like to see progress and this increases their motivation so I send them a chart so they can visually see and track their own progress. This gives them ownership of their goal and behaviours to reach that goal.
We always discuss the merits of the best tools to use on our personal training courses but we believe it should come down to the following: 1. Weight
2. Measurements 3. Take Pictures But remember it is important to educate your client on the importance of increasing lean muscle and reducing body fat and this may not always be represented by scale weight which is why you should take measurement and pictures.
Slightly exaggerated but you get the idea!
4. Tracking Calories Being very long in the tooth, and in the industry a long time, I openly admit that I did not pay enough attention to calories and focused more on low carb and a paleo approach (which inevitable still got great results as it lower calories) but to achieve long term result and a better relationship with food we need to educate our clients on the importance of calories and how the can work for us and not against us. Let’s all agree that we should be getting the majority of our calories from whole foods such as lean proteins, lots of vegetables, fruit, complex carbohydrates but for long term success we need flexibility in our approach. I have always promoted an 80/20 approach to nutrition as clients need to be able to enjoy life and also understand there are inherently no GOOD or BAD foods. Tracking your calories will also give you a more individualised approach to your plan, based on your goals, and your BMR and activity levels, macronutrient amount and the flexibility to enjoy life but still stay on track.
There are many methods to setting up your clients total calorie intake for their goal and I use the spreadsheet above. *** If using Myfitness pal it will sometimes set the calories too high so just take the time to work this out using a BMR calculation. In my experience your client will find it surprising how many calories they need to sustain their activity levels and support their goals and I would focus on the importance of total calories and protein intake to start. Here is a BMR calculation to get you started. Harris-Benedict Formula1
Calculate your BMR (basal metabolic rate):
Women: BMR = 655 + ( 4.35 x weight in pounds ) + ( 4.7 x height in inches ) - ( 4.7 x age in years )
Men: BMR = 66 + ( 6.23 x weight in pounds ) + ( 12.7 x height in inches ) - ( 6.8 x age in years )
2. Multiply your BMR by the appropriate activity factor, as follows:
Sedentary (little or no exercise): BMR x 1.2
Lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week): BMR x 1.375
Moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week): BMR x 1.55
Very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week): BMR x 1.725
Extra active (very hard exercise/sports & physical job or 2x training): BMR x 1.93.
Your final number is the approximate number of calories you need each day to maintain your weight.
5. Not 1 size fits all.
As coaches we have to remember we are dealing with people all have a different relationship with food and many will feel that they have tried ‘everything’ in their quest to losing weight, looking better and be happier. So with that in mind a term you should get comfortable using is… ‘It depends’
What is the best diet? It depends
Is counting macros the best way for me to lose weight? It depends
Should I reduce my carb intake and avoid gluten? It depends
Do I need to eat more protein? It depends The above approach allows you to consider the personality, goals, relationship with food, current health status etc and allows you to develop a coaching style that caters for the induvial needs of your client. As a coach you need to understand that most of our clients who struggle with their weight, body fat, eating habits, and health tell us: It’s not just about the food. There are many factors involved: stress, sleep, metabolic health, lifestyle, social environment, and so forth.
So understanding that because counting macros and using my fitness pal has worked for you; it may not work for the busy dad of 3, who is running a business and hates using technology. What may work for him is somethings as simple as using the ‘palm size’ analogy for portion control. The world of nutritional science is still very young and we are still learning but what is clear is that people need support, education, empathy and for someone to believe in them. And if you still find all this really confusing but still want to help your client make positive changes to their health then something I have used with great success over the years is the ’10 Habits’ by Precision Nutrition’. This is a great start for anyone just to have a clear guide and a start point and I highly recommend checking out www.precisionnutrition.com for further articles, resources and lots more.
So here are the 10 habits:
1. Eat every 2-3 hours.
Now, you don’t need to eat a full meal every 2-3 hours but you do need to eat meals and snacks that conform to the other rules below.
2. Eat complete, lean protein each time you eat.
Are you eating something that was an animal or comes from an animal – every time you feed yourself? If not, make the change. Note: If you’re a vegetarian, this rule still applies – you need complete protein and need to find non-animal sources.
3. Eat vegetables every time you eat.
That’s right, in addition to a complete, lean protein source, you need to eat some vegetables every time you eat (every 2-3 hours, right?). You can toss in a piece of fruit here and there as well. But don’t skip the veggies.
4. Eat carbs only when you deserve to.
Well, not ALL carbs – eat fruits and veggies whenever you want. And if want to eat a carbohydrate that’s not a fruit or a vegetable (this includes things like simple sugars, rice, pasta, potatoes, bread, etc), you can – but you’ll need to save it until after you’ve exercised. Yes, these often heavily processed grains are dietary staples in North America, but heart disease, diabetes and cancer are medical staples – and there’s a relationship between the two! To stop heading down the heart disease highway, reward yourself for a good workout with a good carbohydrate meal right after (your body best tolerates these carbohydrates after exercise). For the rest of the day, eat your lean protein and a delicious selection of fruits and veggies.
5. Learn to love healthy fats.
There are 3 types of fat – saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated. Forget about that old “eating fat makes you fat” maxim. Eating all three kinds of fat in a healthy balance (about equal parts of each) can dramatically improve your health, and even help you lose fat. Your saturated fat should come from your animal products and you can even toss in some butter or coconut oil for cooking. Your monounsaturated fat should come from mixed nuts, olives, and olive oil. And your polyunsaturated fat should from flaxseed oil, fish oil, and mixed nuts.
6. Ditch the calorie containing drinks (including fruit juice).
In fact, all of your drinks should come from non-calorie containing beverages. Fruit juice, alcoholic drinks, and sodas – these are all to be removed from your daily fare. Your best choices are water and green tea.
7. Focus on whole foods.
Most of your dietary intake should come from whole foods. There are a few times where supplement drinks and shakes are useful. But most of the time, you’ll do best with whole, largely unprocessed foods.
8. Have 10% foods.
I know you cringed at a few of the rules above. But here’s the thing: 100% nutritional discipline is never required for optimal progress. The difference, in results, between 90% adherence to your nutrition program and 100% adherence is negligible. So you can allow yourself “10% foods” – foods that break rules, but which you’ll allow yourself to eat (or drink, if it’s a beverage) 10% of the time. Just make sure you do the math and determine what 10% of the time really means. For example, if you’re eating 6 meals per day for 7 days of the week – that’s 42 meals. 10% of 42 is about 4. Therefore you’re allowed to “break the rules” on about 4 meals each week.
9. Develop food preparation strategies.
The hardest part about eating well is making sure you can follow the 8 rules above consistently. And this is where preparation comes in. You might know what to eat, but if isn’t available, you’ll blow it when it’s time for a meal.
10. Balance daily food choices with healthy variety.
Let’s face it, when you’re busy during the week, you’re not going to be spending a ton of time whipping up gourmet meals. During these times you’re going to need a set of tasty, easy to make foods that you can eat day in and day out. However, once every day or a few times a week, you need to eat something different, something unique and tasty to stave off boredom and stagnation.