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Key Considerations for Creating a Nutrition Plan
Meal planning is a major component of nutrition plans and has become popular among those looking to lose weight while also gravitating into other fitness goals. With many different options for custom meal plans or diet plans, nutrition can become quite overwhelming.
The assumption that 80% of one's diet and 20% of their exercise produces results is not exactly true. It takes 100% dedication to both diet and exercise to produce the best results. Let’s look further into how to build an effective diet plan that compliments each client’s lifestyle and workout program.
Keep your personal trainer scope of practice in mind throughout this article. Rules and regulations vary between states and even gyms about what you can offer clients through your role as a trainer. When in doubt, refer out.
Elements of a Nutrition Plan
The terms “nutrition plan” and “meal plan” are used interchangeably but can be different. Meal plans tend to be more quantitative and put clients at a higher potential for health risks. This approach to meal planning can encourage bad eating habits that lead to eating disorders.
Over time, a client's body can become resistant to hunger and satiety signals. This is from obsessing over macronutrient goals and the timing of meals. When a client follows an exact meal plan for a while, there is a higher possibility for them to ignore their bodies normal signals. The meal plan becomes more important than what the body needs and feels.
Clients who follow a diet plan like this will find it difficult to maintain exact calorie and macronutrient amounts. These situations arise when clients consume all their calories early in the day and turn to not eating the rest of the day.
Counting macronutrients through following a meal plan can be beneficial depending on the type of client, their goals, and circumstances. Though it is a component of meal planning that separates it from extensive nutrition plans or guides on how to eat.
Nutrition plans are created with quality food choices in mind and not just the amount of food a client should eat. The way a client feels is more important in leading them to long term weight loss and results. The signals of hunger and fullness a client experiences along with digestive symptoms tell you how to adjust their diet. Calorie counting alone is too wide-ranging to determine what types of food are causing the digestive issues.
Diet plans that focus on the quality of eating, rather than just hitting macronutrients, help clients achieve optimal health within their bodies. They can determine foods that create satisfaction, increase energy, and improve mental clarity. A custom meal plan that provides this allows a client to choose when or when not to eat based on their body’s natural clock.
Benefits and Importance of Creating a Nutrition Plan
Nutrition plans provide flexibility and control over a diet, which creates more confidence in clients. If clients are more confident in their nutrition, they will experience less anxiety and stress.
Skip Calorie Counting
Nutrition plans produce results without having to count everything a client eats. When a client is choosing food to eat, they need to consider a well-balanced diet. A diet comprised of fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and other micronutrient dense foods makes it easy to eat balanced meals.
With a guided diet plan, you can give clients the choice of what food to eat and how to arrange their meal planning. With a wide array of food choices, your client won’t have to eat the same thing over and over. Meal planning can help busy clients stay more organized and committed to their diet plan. This method planning and prep is not for everyone but can help make diet plans easier to follow for some clients.
Blood Sugar Levels
Diet and eating have a direct effect on this. Sudden changes in blood sugar levels can impact underlying anxiety and stress levels. The food a client chooses to eat and the timing of eating causes blood sugar to increase or decrease. Certain foods, including carbohydrates, have a direct impact.
Clients can achieve stable blood sugar levels by frequently eating small meals or snacking and not skipping meals. Sugary foods in a diet plan spike insulin levels. Stick to healthier options, including limited complex carbohydrates, fruits, and vegetables. Nutrients that help manage stress and inflammation in the body are antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids.
How to Create a Nutrition Plan
To develop a diet plan, you first need to obtain details on family history, food allergies, medications, supplements, jobs, nutritional desires, and current eating habits. Avoid placing limitations on a client’s diet by considering these details. The time that clients are asleep, when they eat, and what they eat are also important.
The more variety a client has with food and diet choices, the more they will consume phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals. A lot of these nutrients come from sources of vegetables.
Nutrition plans are for clients of all ages and you should aim to quiet the noise that fad diets and myths create in our clients’ minds. This will help avoid hesitation towards the new approach we recommend to them.
Every client can benefit from balanced meals comprised of healthy fats, fruits, vegetables, lean meats, complex carbohydrates, and whole grains. A well-balanced diet ensures that your clients eat micronutrients. When designing meals be sure to monitor salt intake, sugar intake, alcohol consumption, and unhealthy fats—saturated or trans fats.
In a client’s diet plan, provide a food list that breaks down food into categories. These categories are what make up a well-balanced meal. Accompany this with portion size comparison charts rather than just serving size recommendations. This makes it easier for clients to create meals quickly and efficiently without the headache of measuring or weighing their food.
1. “Pick one lean meat from the choices and eat a piece that is equivalent to the size of your fist.”
2. “Pick any lean meat from the choices and eat 6 oz of cooked meat”
To help with this you can refer clients to the MyPlate guidelines so they can fill their plate with the right amounts of food they need to eat. Food logging supports this with comparisons between energy, stress, and hunger or satiety levels. The relationship between eating factors and feelings helps clients take control of choosing foods that make them feel better.
Create Nutritional Success Through Support Systems
Children can play a major role in a client’s diet plan and food logging. Clients should have a support system implemented by making fun and healthy snacks for children. Set goals for them to eat the rainbow each day and let them pick out fruits and vegetables they want to be part of each meal. Be sure to plan each meal to help avoid last-minute bad eating choices.
Spouses need to be on board as well. They can be a great help with keeping unhealthy foods out of the house. Choosing baked or grilled cooking options is crucial. Replacing sodas or juices with flavored sparkling water and substituting desserts like ice cream sundaes with yogurt parfaits is also a big part of nutrition plans.
Also, as a trainer, we must notice any eating trends and observe any food that provides hidden calories in our client’s diet. Food logging helps you pick out these eating patterns so you can address them. When clients feel obligated to track everything they eat, they constantly stress over it because they don’t feel in control of their meal plan. If they log the food they eat and relate it to how they feel based on that food choice, they can build independence in their nutrition.
Tools and Resources for Creating a Nutrition Plan
With technology always advancing, there are no excuses for clients and trainers to not being organized. Apps are a great tool to use to alleviate mental stress on clients that a meal plan can cause. With these and many other meal planning apps, you can create nutrition plans that are effective and easy to commit to.
Some apps allow your client to set up a platform according to the type of diet you recommend. They factor in weight loss goals, food allergies, foods they dislike and the number of meals they want to eat during the day.
Others can generate grocery lists from a meal your client chooses, which makes it easier for the client to shop for food. They may even provide the recipes to cook each meal. You can create meals with them and input them into the app. This allows you to get flexible and adjust to their diet plan to their lifestyle.
As a trainer, don't be afraid to seek out health care professionals to assist you in developing a diet plan. Registered dietitians and nutritionists can help make your meal planning even better. This does not lower your credibility as a professional. It shows your clients the level of professionalism you carry and how much you care about their weight loss and results.
Master the science of nutrition by becoming certified as an ISSA Nutritionist. This certification supports all fitness career paths and allows you to improve your nutritional skills. You will gain knowledge about real-life nutrition circumstances clients often experience. It gives you the credibility for when you shift focuses between fitness and nutrition within a client’s program.