So, earlier this week I was a [co-] Guest Speaker at Oregon Tech alongside my Fitness Director, and one thing that he said out the gates was that the only reason he agreed to join our Gym was because we have top of class Nutrition software that we [as Certified Practitioners] have access to so as to help our Members with their Nutrition.
Now, you may be wondering what the big deal is? After all, don’t all gyms offer “Meal Plans” and/or Nutrition Advice?
Fact is, a lot DON’T… and those that *do* are often doing so outside of their ‘scope of practice’! You have a ridiculous number of gym chains out there that simply offer ZERO help when it comes to guiding you with your Nutrition; however, virtually every “Fit Pro” out there will concede that dialling in your Nutrition is the most important aspect of your Training – regardless of whether your goals are more “cosmetic” (i.e. looking to drop considerable bodyfat) or performance-driven (e.g. for competing in Sports).
One thing I like seeing is that the biggest “Influencers” out there – like: Jeff Cavaliere (with his AthleanX YouTube Channel) and Jim Stoppani (through Bodybuilding.com and his supplement line) – are not only giving boatloads of free information about *Training*, but their underpinning message consistently addresses the importance of Nutrition as the key factor for success.
Whether you’ve heard of Jeff or Jim before, I’m just hoping that the Fitness Team that you have access to at your gym is echoing the same advice! However, what I would caution is to ensure that the person you’re listening to is actually qualified to give you advice and/or any guidelines or plans regarding what you put in your mouth.
I’ve known many a Trainer who has doled out Meal Plans, yet they don’t even have a ‘cert’ to their name that shows they have the formal education to even formulate such plans. Heck, Instagram is absolutely rife with genetically gifted individuals who make you pay for some Meal Plan that they just found [but supposedly “formulated”] on Google!
There are several reasons why credibility and real expertise (acquired through formal education) are important, but the biggest one comes down to the health implications if they don’t understand an underlying condition that you might have…
What if you’re Diabetic?
You’ve got Hypercholesterolemia – what foods should you be *avoiding* so as not to exacerbate the condition?
You’re pregnant – what should you be getting *more* of?
You’ve got IBS. Maybe you have Celiac Disease. Crohn’s?
Does the Fit Pro you’re working with know the appropriate recommendations for ANY of these conditions? Chances are they can probably take a best educated guess when it comes to Diabetes, and blag their way through the needs of someone who is pregnant; but the others? … It’s unlikely.
If you’re lucky, you might find yourself with access to a Fitness Professional who is actually a certified Nutritionist! Perfect! They’re the ones you want to listen to.
Outside the parameters of becoming a full-on Nutritionist though, the only other options for Fit Pros are: doing a course (via the Fitness Industry) to get a Specialism in “Fitness Nutrition” – this is ideal if you’re a Trainer as it doesn’t entail the same extensive means as becoming a Nutritionist, but it covers enough of those Foundations that it places you more within the scope of practice [than being outside it].
At the most basic level, however, you have certifications that – for a Trainer – allows you to give ‘Nutrition Advice’. As vague as this sounds, it’s actually quite simple: you can advise on the health benefits of food / macronutrients / micronutrients… but you CAN’T draw up Meal Plans.
There are plenty of courses out there that simply incorporate this into their basic qualifications for becoming a Personal Trainer. That is to say, that the vast majority of Fitness Professionals are well-versed [enough] to at least give advice on the subject. But unless they have more advanced qualifications, they shouldn’t be writing out ounce for ounce what you should be eating!
That’s why in my CXP Nutrition articles/podcasts I only seek to inform & educate you on various aspects of Nutrition; and while I may give *examples* of what might go into a meal, I don’t go listing entire Meal Plans.
I’m qualified to give Nutrition Advice, and I do have my advanced certs where I have delved into conditions such as Diabetes and Hypercholesterolemia, but I am no Nutritionist, and I don’t explicitly have a “Fitness Nutrition” cert to my name. Therefore, I remain within my scope of practice, and while I provide you with pieces to the puzzle, it is ultimately up to you to seek out a Nutritionist / Dietician / Doctor should you feel that you need the extra help in piecing it all together.
Now then, there is a loophole here for Fitness Professionals…
It allows us to remain within our scope of practice, but still serve our Clients when it comes to “cracking the code” on Nutrition. And this is where we come full-circle – the reason why my Club’s Fitness Director agreed to come onboard (the make-or-break detail):
Having world-class software that allows us to utilize a tool designed to set Calorie Goals, Track Food, and even give Meal Plans.
The best thing about it is that it has all been created by people with the highest qualifications you can get – Dieticians, Physicians and Nutritionists – therefore, the Client needing help with their Nutrition is able to access information that will not only help them with their goals, but takes into account any health complications that they may have.
In the case of the Club I currently work at – the program we use is dotFit.
Brought to us by the same person that was CEO of NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) – Neal Spruce – dotFit allows our Clients to set up free profiles where they can easily Track Food, they have access to Meal Plans that are flexible and adaptable to virtually any lifestyle, and the Trainers who use this are all Certified Practitioners (meaning – we are well versed in the tool itself, as well as the comprehensive Supplement Line that dotFit offers, which can be purchased directly from the User’s Profile).
As if you couldn’t already tell from all the articles & podcasts I have published to date, I am really big on upholding the highest standards, and who knows – maybe someday I might have an impact on a greater level whereby the standards in the Fitness Industry are elevated in all areas: from Coaching to Nutrition, the info we give on Supplements (as there are way too many people who know nothing about what they’re actually endorsing!) to encouraging those who we influence to take their Rest & Recovery seriously.
I try my absolute best to uphold these standards, and using a program like dotFit for my Clients allows me to achieve this as their Trainer.
But okay, time to get down off my soapbox!
If you’re someone working with a Trainer or going it alone, be sure to check that the advice you seek when it comes to your Nutrition is legit! And if you’re a Trainer reading this – definitely look into Nutrition programs that allow you to best serve your Clients (if you’re not already certified in such).
That’s all for today, so I’ll catch you in the next one.
Until then, remember: Eat Healthy, and Eat Smart!
Yours in Training,
Chris Atkinson | Master Personal Trainer, SDO