In a recent online discussion with some industry leaders, the topic of a fitness professionals role in dispensing nutritional recommendations came up. You can follow that discussion here, but I wanted to expand it on a little. You cant out train your diet. Most of my general population clients have weight loss or body comp goals. While its easy to present the value of moving and feeling better, shifting the focus away from aesthetic goals, most clients are more vain than that. Another large client base are athletes with performance goals. You cant out perform a bad diet either. As a CSCS and nutrition minor, I feel confident and qualified to dispense general nutrition and supplement guidelines as stipulated by my governing certifications and degrees. However, clients need to recognize the qualifications of the fitness pro they are working with and take what they say with a grain of salt, or sans salt :). Ask about their credentials and know only a registered dietician should be giving specific caloric suggestions and food combinations. Adverse side effects from too much or too little of certain nutrients or calories can leave an unqualified professional liable. I often take for granted, how little people know about nutrition and how it plays a role with their goals. I find most often, the aspiring Manhattan chic predisposes clients to infrequent eating, followed by poor choice binging at restaurants that don t have their guests nutrition in mind. Combine these heavily salted, high fat, high calories meals with excessive alcohol consumption, and a sedentary lifestyle, and you have a recipe for a US obesity epidemic. Simple changes such as 4-6 small meals a day, lean proteins, healthy fats, high fiber carbs, and increased non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic fluids, can be life changing. Many clients fail to realize an alcoholic drink of any concoction, is going to exceed 100 calories, and a gram of alcohol is almost as calorically dense as a gram of fat. (7kcal/g vs 9) 2 drinks a day, over the course of the week, easily adds up to an additional 2000 calories. A pound of fat is 3500 calories. How long will it take you to gain another pound?? The average adult gains 2 pounds a year. Cutting your alcohol intake by 50% could dramatically drop your caloric intake. Eating more meals at home that out is an easy way to know what you are putting in your body. Restaurant foods are salted, sweetened and larded for pleasure, desensitizing our palettes to salt, fat and sugar. Even with healthy menu options its hard to turn down what we want in the moment versus our long term goals. Having said that, I do not believe there are "bad" foods, its the quantity of those bad or calorically dense foods. Learn portion control. A fist size of protein and high fiber carb is more than enough for most people. You do not have to clean your plate, save it for later. Skip the dessert and cut back on the alcohol. Little modifications over time can make all the difference over time. Be consistent with your diet and exercise. Make moderate eating and exercising a lifestyle. Consult a qualified fitness professional and nutritionist to help you get on the right track. Some mainstream applications I like for tracking calories and being more mindful of eating habits can be found at livestrong.com or loseit.com, both are conveniently available on blackberries and iPhones too.
For the fitness professional, remaining within ones professional scope of practice and referring out is important. But for many, simple lifestyle modifications can be more than an ounce of prevention, and fitness pros are the first in the line of defense for many diet related diseases and preventative care.