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Successful Nutrition Coaches Avoid These Common Mistakes

Many clients seek out fitness professionals for guidance and assistance with their fitness and nutrition goals to improve their health and longevity. A successful health coach can create a coaching package that encompasses lifestyle changes, whole foods, and, if desired, weight loss. More than just personal training, a health coach is a nutrition expert and creates an integrative nutrition plan for the fundamentals all the way to refined and specific goals. Clients can range from general population to an athlete. What a nutrition coach will actually do varies with the client and their goals. 

Whether you work in person or conduct online coaching, there are several common mistakes made in a health coaching business. Knowing and understanding these common faux pas will help a coach provide the most comprehensive and effective nutrition coaching possible while maintaining an effective and professional reputation.

Learn more about taking your in-person nutrition coaching online here: How to Start an Online Nutrition Coaching Business

Keep Clear Boundaries

When working as closely with people as a personal trainer or nutrition coach does, you are more than just a weight loss coach. You become a confidante, sounding board, and sometimes a friend. 

A coach must work to keep the lines between personal and professional clear and consistent. It is not uncommon to learn personal and sensitive details about health coaching clients, but how the coach uses the information gained is what matters most. Use the information to create an effective coaching program that considers the client’s personality, past experiences, and future goals. An educated nutrition coach has a firm grasp on the stages of behavior change, motivation, and decision-making similar to a life coach to make a healthy habit a lasting one. The trainer-client relationship is not one to take advantage of.

Engaging in overly personal conversations or relationships with clients is outside of the scope of practice for a nutrition coach. Keep all coaching about the client’s health, not their personal life. Anything too intimate may make a client uncomfortable or give them cause to stop using your services.

Pace the Delivery of Information 

A nutrition coach, dietitian, or personal trainer has a lot of knowledge to share with the world! What the professional finds fun and interesting may not feel the same to the client. If too much information is provided to a client in a short time, they may become overwhelmed or discouraged despite the intention of empowering them. 

Part of an effective nutrition plan involves a stepwise nutrition program discussing macronutrients, food selection, and potentially sports nutrition for those who are active. This includes understanding healthy fat and getting enough protein daily, exchanging processed foods for whole foods, and nutrition for athletic performance.

Help clients understand that it will take several sessions to get through all the relevant information in a way that they can learn it, understand it, and apply it to their life. For example, take one session to discuss macronutrients and another to understand metabolic rates and their ideal number of calories. A third session can dive into how the calories you established will help them lose body fat or gain muscle mass. Be sure to allow time to answer any questions the client may have along the way!

Separate Nutrition and Fitness Coaching

Often, a certified personal trainer will expand their services and begin to offer nutrition coaching to clients or as a stand-alone service. The mistake is made when the two services are combined into one. Not all clients want or will need assistance with their diet and would prefer to focus on strength training. 

If you are a running coach, be a running coach! If the athletes you train wish to improve their health and learn more about nutrition, offer that coaching as a separate service in a separate session for a fee. 

This nutrition mistake will cost you money in the long run! Coaches who offer training AND nutrition to clients may find it challenging to charge a separate fee for the service in the future. 

There are many credentials a trainer can complete to add to the depth of their knowledge. Check out the ISSA specializations available that can ignite your passion and expand your services!

Place Value in Nutrition Coaching 

Helping people with their nutrition is a critical part of their health and fitness goals. Their diet is what fuels their body during a workout and as they move through their day. Many professionals in fitness fail to place a value on the guidance they can offer to enhance and expedite results.

To avoid this mistake, talk to all clients briefly about their nutrition and offer your services during your initial meeting. Explain that overall health coaching will benefit them far more than isolated fitness or nutrition training. If they do not commit to nutrition coaching initially, there is an opportunity to gain their trust and show them results over time and add the service later. 

Also, when a nutrition coach paces the delivery of the information they have to share, they are effectively creating a program. This means it will be an integrated and long-lasting relationship between the coach and client to constantly work towards, reassess, and refine their goals. There is value built into the fact that programs last for weeks or months at a time and yield better results than “a session.”

Be Well-Rounded and Be Successful!

Keep these common mistakes in mind as you set out into or continue on with your fitness journey. Acknowledge that every interaction you have with a client is critical to a healthy professional relationship and works to build your reputation. Remain informative, concise, and engaging and clients will stick with you no matter what!

With a few specializations under your belt and nutrition as a part of your arsenal, any fitness professional can grow in the field. The more you know, the better you will be at getting clients results regardless of their starting point or breadth of their goals. 


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Sports Nutritionist

ISSA’s Specialist in Sports Nutrition (SSN) program prepares personal trainers to expand their practices into the specialized area of sports nutrition. Trainers learn how to optimize client performance by combining well-designed training programs with performance nutrition.

Please note: The information provided in this course is for general educational purposes only. The material is not a substitute for consultation with a healthcare provider regarding particular medical conditions and needs. Be sure to check the statutes in your state regarding the nutrition information that non-licensed individuals are able to dispense.

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