Most people will have heard the saying: ‘abs are made in the kitchen, not in the gym.’ No matter how much time you’re spending training your clients, if they’re not eating well outside of their training sessions then most of your hard work will go unnoticed and your client just won’t be seeing the changes they expect. The general rule is 30% gym, 70% diet.
Remember, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. It can be a good idea to offer basic nutrition advice to your clients to help steer them in the right direction in achieving their goals. This is going to make you sound more knowledgeable and clients are likely to be seeing results quicker if they’re making positive lifestyle changes. Giving nutrition advice can be a tricky business, so read on to see the best advice for giving nutrition advice to clients.
Understand your client’s lifestyle
You need to fully understand your client’s lifestyle before giving them nutrition advice. If you know
nothing about them, then giving them nutrition advice could be pointless. Telling them to eat more lean protein when they’re a vegetarian isn’t going to be helpful, and will only make you look unprofessional, so it’s important to find out as much about them as possible. You could consider getting them to keep a food diary for a week so you can see the sorts of things they’re eating and what could be improved. Are they eating too much processed food and not enough fruit and veg? It can also be a good idea to find out more about their lifestyle. Find out things such as:
- Are they at work from 9-5?
- Do they have a family and children?
- Do they work shifts?
- What job do they do?
All of this could affect the advice the sort of advice you give them. Telling them that they should eat a small meal every 3-4 hours when they’re actually out and about in their job, and so have no access to food or a kitchen would be a waste of time. The more you know about your client and their food and lifestyle habits, the better the advice you can give them, and the more knowledgeable and trustworthy you’re going to seem.
How much do they already know?
It can be a good idea to find out how much information your clients already know about nutrition.
Some might be well informed and just need pointing in the right direction; while others might have no idea. This can change the way you give nutrition advice to clients. Although it’s always going to be easier to be straightforward and simple as possible, for more knowledgeable clients telling them to try and incorporate more protein in their diet will be enough. Whereas clients who know nothing you’re going to need to be clearer. Telling them to eat a chicken breast and vegetables for dinner instead of a takeaway is going to be easier for them to understand.
There’s lots of misinformation out there
You need to remember that there is a lot of misinformation out there and this can confuse clients. There are always new fad diets and new research being released that contradicts itself. One minute you should be reducing the amount of eggs you eat, the next, you should be eating more! Clients who think they know what they’re talking about actually might be full of misguided information. It can be a good idea for these clients to tell you what they know and for you to then be able to fix any misconceptions they have. Be aware of new diets or research being released so that you can guide clients who might be tempted with the new advice or might be confused about what it means for them.
Small changes to a healthier lifestyle
Giving nutrition advice to clients is about changing their habits to create a healthier lifestyle
in the long term, not just until they reach their fitness goals. This can mean small changes are going to be easier for clients to implement and stick to. Clients aren’t going to be able to change habits that they’ve had for years overnight, so make gradual changes and encourage clients with their progress. For example, if your client eats four biscuits a day, get them to gradually reduce this. Instead of having two biscuits with a cup of tea, get them to just have one. Then after they’ve managed to do that for a couple of weeks, reduce this to none. Small changes will make it easier for clients to change their habits and not relapse later.
Leave it to the professionals
It’s important to only give basic nutrition advice to clients. Offering small improvements on their diet
is the best way to help encourage clients to change to a healthier lifestyle. Remember, you’re a personal trainer, not a dietary professional. For clients who really want to change their diet completely, recommend a good nutrition expert for them to visit. If clients have any medical conditions, such as diabetes or a heart condition, of if they’ve suffered with eating disorders, then don’t give them any nutrition advice at all and instead recommend them to a medical professional. Their dietary needs are going to be different to other clients and so you don’t want to be giving advice that could potentially disrupt their health even more.
Most personal trainer qualifications will have a chapter on nutrition, so it’s likely that you’re already going to have some basic knowledge. There are plenty of other qualifications and courses you can do to gather a more in-depth knowledge of nutrition so that you’re better qualified to be giving this type of advice out to clients. If you want to start offering meal-plans, make sure that you’ve got a good qualification that allows you to do that, otherwise you should recommend your clients to a dietrician that will do it for them. Remember, most clients are likely to want some sort of nutrition advice, and it’s going to be helpful for them in achieving their goals if you can give them some basic advice. The more you know, the more knowledgeable you’re going to come across, allowing your clients to gain your trust and recommend you to others.