When people hire a personal trainer, they expect a customized workout that helps them achieve their specific goal, whether it’s weight loss or strength and conditioning. They will want expert health and fitness advice about the type of workout they should do and how to perform the movements correctly. They’re also looking for someone who will help them stay committed and motivated to their training and fitness schedules.
However, when it comes to seeing results, a well-executed exercise program is not enough to change your life and achieve your health goals. Even the best workout regime won’t bring any results if a proper diet plan and the right food choices does not support it. Regardless of how long or hard you exercise, that lean figure you are after is also made in the kitchen. Therefore, you may begin to think that your trainer should be providing nutrition guidance, as well.
Whether it’s asking them how many carbs you need to cut or what they eat on a daily basis, it is fairly easy to assume that you should be able to ask these questions to the person who is helping you reach your fitness goals. Partnering with the right trainer can make all the difference in your fitness endeavors. There is nothing worse than spending time and money in a gym, working out with a trainer, only to realize that you have made zero progress. If you are looking for a certified trainer who can help you come up with both a workout and nutrition plan, let’s take a look at how to find the right one for you.
What Do You Need from a Fitness Trainer?
When it comes to health and wellness, your nutrition contributes about 80% of winning the battle. Even if you have an hour of vigorous exercise per training, that still leaves you with 23 hours per day to mess things up if you don’t eat properly. Hopefully, your certified personal trainer will help you build a workout strategy but also a nutritional strategy that aligns with your goals.
First of all, you must determine your fitness goals as well as determine whether a particular trainer is the best fit for you (a trainer might have a great reputation, but just not right for your needs).
Are you trying to lose 10% body fat, 20 pounds, or 100 pounds? Are you looking to run your first 5k? Do you want to enjoy exercise, feel better, or get in shape? Are you trying to hold your first handstand or get stronger? Defining your fitness goals will determine the trainer you are looking for. Also, you should make sure that your trainer is an expert in the area you want to train in – being an expert doesn’t necessarily make them a good fit in another.
In recent years, the fitness industry has begun treating their clients as whole people. What does this mean? The most experienced and educated coaches now recognize that they cannot help their clients achieve the best results unless they train the whole person. Their workout programs will be less effective unless they deal with the ways in which your diet is working against you, your sleep problems, and the stress you are under.
Also, clients are now expecting fitness and nutritional advice as part of their personal training and fitness package, which is why the best professionals are stepping into the nutrition waters.
Why Should You Find a Trainer Certified in Nutrition
Fitness coaches know that the key to helping you reach your goal is by balancing regular physical activity and healthy eating. They will want to know what you are eating because it will give him or her an idea of your lifestyle, but also help them understand how to structure your workout regimen based on your nutrition. However, your trainer may not be qualified to provide nutritional guidance if he or she is not a registered dietitian (RD) or have the appropriate personal trainer nutrition certification. Most trainers have a good grasp of proper fitness nutrition, but without certification from completing a nutrition course, their knowledge may be based on past personal experience and rudimentary. To get personal training certification, you don’t need to know a lot about nutrition, and it’s up to them to get the necessary education in nutritional sciences.
What works best for others may not work for you, which may lead to receiving the wrong advice. For example, taking creatine can help one build muscle mass, so your trainer may recommend you do the same. However, if you have a certain medical condition that doesn’t allow this, you will be on the road to trouble.
What Advice Can Your Trainer Give or Not Give?
There’s nothing wrong with your trainer recommending you to, let’s say, switch from white bread to whole wheat. From a legal perspective, it’s all right if they offer nutritional advice that comes from an anecdotal perspective. However, only licensed dietitians can craft a step-by-step meal plan for you. Without the right nutrition education and certification, personal trainers should not be telling you which supplements you should take. It is acceptable for them to suggest what types of supplements or vitamins they take, but they must explain to you that you should ask your dietitian or family physician whether it’s safe for you to take them.
If you have found the right trainer who is not a registered dietitian, you should proceed to find and hire a registered dietitian. An RD has the qualifications to provide in-depth dietary information. It is important for you to know what to eat (nutrient by nutrient), which is where an experienced trainer must draw the line. Without the right education and certification, they shouldn’t be giving you nutritional advice.
What your trainer CAN do in terms of nutritional advice
In general, your trainer can talk to you about making healthy lifestyle choices, which means you can talk about eating behaviors and food in various ways. Your trainer can:
- Encourage you about the benefits of healthy fats, protein, and other macronutrients.
- Encourage you to eat nutrient-rich vegetables and lean protein.
- Help you choose the right foods to consume before/after workouts.
- Educate you about the basics of good nutrition.
- Offer strategies to improve your eating habits.
- Let you know how evidence-based supplements can augment your healthy lifestyle.
- Demonstrate food preparation skills and offer recipes.
- Suggest how much water you should drink to stay hydrated.
- Share nutrition information and resources from recognized nutrition organizations.
What your trainer CANNOT do in terms of nutritional advice
If your trainer is not a registered dietitian or doesn’t carry any other relevant certification, he or she cannot:
- Diagnose medical conditions.
- Prescribe diets to treat symptoms of clinical or medical conditions.
- Prescribe nutritional supplements or diets to treat clinical or medical conditions.
For example, if you are diagnosed with prediabetes, you shouldn’t ask your trainer to recommend a diet to help you lower your blood sugar before it develops in Type 2 Diabetes. Regardless if they are sure they can help you, they cannot, and it would be illegal for them to offer advice unless they are an RD or physician. Even something as straightforward and simple as offering a weight-loss diet can be construed as treating, prescribing, or even diagnosing a medical condition. That is outside of their scope of practice.
Tips on Finding a Good Trainer Who Cares about Your Nutrition
When you find a trainer with expertise in the fitness area you need, you should have an in-depth conversation with him or her about how they can help you reach your fitness. Accepting what your personal trainer tells you without making sure he is knowledgeable enough and aligned with your goals would be a major mistake that could possibly lead to health issues and injury.
The trainers you talk to should:
- Be ready to hear your full story and listen to you completely.
- Ask you about your daily nutrition. If they don’t ask you about that, be sure that you are going to waste your time.
- Tell you about their experience, education, and how they can help you. They should be able to point to their history of success and credentials or share past successes of clients.
- Set proper expectations by telling you how long it would take to build the right habits or reach your fitness goals.
- Practice what they preach. Avoid hiring a trainer who doesn’t lead a healthy lifestyle.
- Ask about any past experience with exercise or past problems with injuries. If you had any injuries or have any physical deficiencies, your trainer should know about that to be able to craft the perfect program for you.
Health, wellness, and physical fitness are often taken for granted. People are mindful of the need to exercise, but most of them keep putting it off – until their health deteriorates and they get reminded that health is, really, all we have. When choosing your trainer that meets your needs, you should go with the one who wants to know everything about your past fitness, your goals, and who knows to give the right recommendations for nutrition.
If you are looking for a personal trainer in Utah, consider reaching out to Total Fitness because we hire only qualified individuals who work with clients in state-of-the-art facilities. They have all the qualifications and certifications, experience, can provide special training (for people with specific medical conditions), and will communicate with you in order to work towards your goals together. If you are in the Salem or Payson areas, visit one of our facilities and start your fitness journey with a professional by your side at a reasonable cost.