T Nation

Brickhead: Question on Nutritional Career


#1

Hey Brick! You work as a registered dietician, correct? I really enjoy your insight and straightforward approach, and wondered if you could talk a little about what you do in your career. I'm studying for a career in corporate wellness, and wondered if you had any tips or anything to share. How do you go about recommending dietary changes to "normal people," those who have no real interest in building muscle or getting lean? I'm curious as to whether you typically would lay out a specific meal plan for someone, telling them closely what to eat, as many people would likely have no real idea when it comes to guestimating on macros. Thanks for any information you can give me!


#2

Great idea for a thread. I'd be damn happy if this actually turned into a Q&A for our resident RD. I know that I've picked his brain many a time via FB.

For as much as he always brings up that he's not full blown gonzo into looking like a bodybuilder anymore, it's rare that you have someone who is so enthusiastic and actually has the real world credentials to provide insight in a helpful manner.

S


#3

Interesting.

I also have an undergrad degree in Nutrition and Food Science, but it was highly clinical in nature. Not sure how to use any of that as a path into the sports nutrition side.


#4

Hey, just saw this. Thanks for making the thread.

It's late now and I'm going to bed soon. So I will write some stuff tomorrow.


#5

Looking forward to it!


#6

Looking forward to this.

Brick, IIRC, you spent some time using a fairly lax diet, didn't you?

Would you do it again? (Are you still doing it? hah)

Do you take a similar approach with clients (or at least try to make it as lax as possible for them to reach their goals?)


#7

for once this is legal!

Interested in this too

When you have time for it:
-how do you feel about this reverse dieting/"metabolic damage" fad
-any big differences physique-wise from calories coming from carbs vs fats?
-your opinion on nutrient timing (I often train, have some water, then sleep)


#8

Thanks for the compliment.

Yes, I'm an RD. I have an undergraduate degree in nutrition, a master in nutrition with a concentration in exercise, and I did the 9 month dietetic internship to become an RD. Actually my thesis mentor used to write for this site. All the "day jobs" I've had were in nursing homes and hospitals except one in which I was the corporate dietitian for a food manufacturing company. Now I work as a dietitian in a nursing and rehabilitation center. In my spare time I write diets for someone's personal training business. I eventually want to come out with my own thing; I've been talking about this for a long time, but it just seems like only up until recently my life was not in the position to focus all-out on my own thing.

"Normal people" are the majority of people who go to a nutritionist or RD. If I recall correctly, even most of Shelby Starnes' clientele are ordinary people. That's actually where most of the money is as a nutrition entrepreneur; otherwise you'll be left with a handful of clients just to say you only consult "elite" people.

With ordinary people, I believe you have to find the middle ground between what's optimal and what's practical and focus a lot on education. What I mean by this is that unlike we here, this stuff is not going to come naturally to ordinary people. A guy like us will quickly learn the macronutrient content of specific foods because of the enthusiasm and obsession with looking phenomenal. So the sacrifice and education comes naturally and quickly. WIth an ordinary person you have to tackle all the common myths and preconceptions about nutrition they've been bombarded with their whole lives as well as showing them what specific foods provide which nutrients and to show them just how much or how little calories and nutrients they are consuming. You also have to stress to them that the more precise they are, the quicker and more dramatic their results will be and that the more lax they are, the slower and less dramatic their results will be. Again, there has to be a middle ground because unlike many here, they do not need or want outrageous results, but rather a lifestyle diet that let's them control their weight and health. For the more fanatical ones you can push things while the rest you have to work with what they're willing to do and what they know. We can't expect ordinary people to live like monks and construct meals solely consisting of rice and chicken or steak and a potato. Show them how to fit a lasagna in their diet. Find out what foods they actually have available or can afford. Find out what the whole family eats together and what's workable (try telling an Italian to forgo the classic Sunday dinners, if you know what I'm saying).

I do stress that people write a food journal and measure everything for at least two weeks. Then you can show them what they're doing right and wrong and they can learn what amounts of what foods are providing what. Then from there they can make changes and use portion control. Most people are NOT going to measure all foods long term.

I can get back to this.


#9

Yes, I was using a fairly lax diet for the past year, only counting total protein and caloric amount, veggies, fruits, and EFA amount. It was pretty fun, but I actually stopped it recently as this approach if unchecked can be problematic. I actually lost a bit of weight with this approach but as of late it made me feel a bit sluggish and I noticed that although I lost weight, my body composition changed for the worse, which is highly likely due to not exactly counting but estimating. I had a VERY bad last year because I was working in a highly corrupt place for the majority of the time and I admit, it really zapped my enthusiasm for tracking much at all and I really lost my enthusiasm for the gym. Now that I have a very nice place to work once again, my enthusiasm for being a bit more meticulous and doing SOME counting and hitting the gym hard has returned. Thank goodness!

As said above, the degree of laxity has to depend on the person and what they expect and what they're willing to do. Why someone would go to a nutritionist or RD without expecting some sacrifice or major adjustments to lifestyle is beyond me, but there are really people who seek counseling but only want to make minor changes, probably because in their hearts they know they need to do SOMETHING but just, for whatever reason, do not want to inconvenience themselves or discipline themselves further. IIFYM is a very good idea for most people or just caloric control or portion control and making the right food choices, just SOME type of system that can tame or control someone's eating habits without upsetting their lifestyle or driving them nuts. So it can be only counting macros or total caloric and protein amount or restrictions put on some nutrient--again, just something keeping them in line. Most fitness buffs have to do this to a degree as well, whether it's Paleo, low-carb, IIFYM, or whatever to keep them going in the right direction.

In the field of dietetics (not "nutrition" which can be practiced by ANYONE), restriction IS necessary for medical conditions such as renal dysfunction or failure in which phosphorous, sodium, and potassium and sometimes protein restriction is necessary if person is not being dialyzed; fluid restriction for those with congestive heart failure; "consistent carb" intake for those with diabetes or some type of regimen in tandem with insulin dosing; tube feeding or parenteral nutrition (IV) for those with GI disorders or failure to thrive or swallowing impairment whatever because they can't eat; or fat restriction for those with pancreatitis; and other restrictions because of medican-nutrient interaction.

As I said, now that my life is in a good spot, I really want to expand on what I do in my spare time and start taking on more people.


#10

1) To tell you the truth, I really haven't looked into the whole metabolic damage thing, but I'm interested in educating myself on it, as I think I should considering I work in nutrition. I remember Scott Abel talked about it at length for years on his blog and in his magazine articles. If I recall correctly, the subjects in the famous Minnesota Starvation Experiment suffered from what is metabolic damage even after being rehabilitated, like obsession with food, hypochondriasis, edema in the extremities, decreased libido, depression, and a lowered BMR. I think you can screw up your metabolism or how you store fat because of extreme dieting, whether it be chronic over eating or yo-yo dieting or some of the semi-starvation diets that some prep coaches give their clients. I have areas on me that would probably take severe dieting to get rid of, such as the "love handles" and lower back because of permabulking for too long in the past.

I believe generally that it comes down to total caloric amount and adequate protein and EFA and micronutrient amount. Again, as I said above, it also comes down to what someone can stick with. Some people, like myself, love savory, fatty, greasy foods while others crave carbs and would rather have a lower fat diet. What people like more might not make things ideal, but compliance matters, except during a contest prep in which LIKING something has nothing to do with stepping onstage at 5-7% bodyfat, but rather what WORKS.

There is some research dealing with people who utilize fats or carbs better and what would be more suitable for individual cases.

I wrote a thesis comparing low fat, high carb diets versus higher fat, lower carb diets in endurance performance in which I compared 20 something studies and I couldn't come up with a conclusion as to which was better because subjects in all studies, once they adapted to higher fat diets, functioned fine, whether they were elite athletes or recreational exercisers. In all the studies, respiratory gases were collected to show the subjects had actually adapted to higher fat diets.

I believe that nutrient timing has become a bit over involved. No, I don't think someone has to taper their carbs as the day goes on or that you can't eat carbs at night or that there has to be some particular nutrient combining like P and F or P and C, but I do think adequate nutrition around and after a workout is critical.


#11

I'll add some more stuff if and when stuff comes to mind. I can go further into the career of dietetics.


#12

You can use it as a path to the sports nutrition side because you have an understanding of how to write diets for specific goals and what foods provide what. My undergrad, masters, and internship was nearly all clinical, foodservice, and science. Classes like medical nutrition therapy, biostatistics, general chemistry, organic chemistry, microbiology, foodservice management, and food technology certainly don't lend to this.

However, the following classes do:
Advanced human nutrition and metabolism
anatomy and physiology
nutrition communication
food and culture
sports nutrition
weight control
energy and exercise
biochemistry
contemporary nutrition
basic nutrition

Actually come to think of it, a class like medical nutriiton therapy WOULD give someone an edge over someone else because the average "nutritionist" or fitness guru does not know how to or is in some cases, legally not permitted to deal with clinical nutrition therapy for treatment of disease or medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, pregnancy, AIDS, and other things that even fitness buffs and athletes and ordinary people suffer from.


#13

Thanks a lot for the in depth response, Brick! Haha yeah it would be great if you could work with all athletes or people who are highly motivated, but I was aware that the majority of clients would be your everyday person looking to get in shape :). I agree with you about making small changes or finding a particular macronutrient/food group that a person can control as best as possible.

There's a fine line between what's optimal and what's practical. It definitely won't do a person any good to nail nutrition 100% for a few weeks or even months only to burn themselves out and fall into binging or give up completely on managing their food intake


#14

Thanks! will actually be making some diet changes because of your advice. Much appreciated Brick


#15

Fantastic stuff Brick. I hope you can answer more questions/write about more dietary issues regarding weight training.


#16

Thanks. I will try to post more soon.


#17

This is great Brick, very interesting indeed.

I'll look forward to more.

Moog


#18

Agree with everybody else,thank's Brick for all of this info.


#19

Thanks people. :slight_smile:


#20

Good stuff, thanks for sharing Brick!