T Nation

Personal Trainers & Nutrition


Personal Trainers - How do you handle nutrition advice or recommendations? I'm especially thinking about the legal aspect since the only mainstream accepted approach is high carb.


So someone is going to sue you for telling them to stop eating so damn much bread and that dietary fat can be healthy? :slightly_smiling:


It really depends on the client. If it's an overweight, middle-age woman, you need to make it a simple to follow as possible. I hate to say this, but it's really easy for certain people to follow Bill Phillips' portion idea. People are lazy and don't want to count calories and such, so get them to eat a portion of protein and a portion of carbs for 4-6 meals a day. Also tell them not to eat anything that comes out of a box. They will anyways but in lower amount than before. Don't worry about ratios until they can eat clean foods on a constistant basis, then build upon that foundation with calorie adjustments. Even though your not counting calories they will still be eating better than before and make gains.


Tell them you are not a licenced dietician and you can only give advice, not an actual meal plan. And when you do, just tell them the truth, althogh I wouldn't recomend a diet like the fat fast diet. That might be a bit extreme for your average client. I worked as a trainer for a summer job and this is the approach I took. I don't think you have much to worry about legally if you just tell them what you would do. They surely can't get hurt eating properly.


My clients all have to agree to a disclaimer before I give out any info about nutrition, training, supplementation, etc. Every personal trainer should use this, or some other approach, to cover themselves.


Just be very cautious. Do you have a registered dietition you can refer people too?


Use a waiver. Tell them you're not a dietician, but you have practical experience. Be conservative with your advice if you give any regarding diet/nutrition. Be honest. Try to dispell the major misinformation that the general public buys into (i.e. wheat based product are the foundation of a sound diet..wrong, extra proiten is bad for you and will make you get really big....wrong)


What's all this talk about dieticians? For the most part, dieticians still prescribe low fat, low protein, high carb diets.
I certainly wouldn't give a beginner something too complicated, but there are other options besides referring them to a dietician!


Boy...I have to agree with Tony on this one. Nutrition Professionals are at their best with what I call "Nutrition of Disease", (e.g. renal disease, diabetes, etc., special diets, etc.). This is NOT a negative. This is simply their element and a MAJOR focus of their training.When it comes to the "Diet of Health" and/or of bodybuilding...then comes the "high carb/low protein/bagel-soy-yogurt" stuff. For nutrition, a "Beginners Guide" out of "Muscle and Fitness" is years ahead of most of these guys.


The proof is in the pudding - My gym has 6 personal
trainers on staff - all 6 are either ACE or AFFA certified.
All 6 of them follow the 75 % carb 15 % pro and 10 %
fat ACE/AFFA guide line to the letter - The 2 males look
like Jared, the Sub-Way sandwich baron - and the 4 females
look like floppy out of shape housewives. - Boley


I think all the talk about a dietician is to protect yourself. We know that general advice is ok but in a lot of states it is illegal to give nutritional advice unless you are a dietician certified in that particular state.
You would be the one getting sued if the person becomes ill because of a diet your recommended. If it is illegal in your state and you have the person sign a waiver that does not make it legal and you are still liable for damages done to that person.
Funny thing is who is better to advise on nutrition and supplements than a trainer? I have talk to a many "dieticians" that have degrees and they know nothing about supplementation and eating to gain lean mass and eating to lose fat.
Just be careful and use your common sense.


I'm a trainer for 24 Hour Fitness. We have a nutritional program that is put together by a computer and is based on what foods the client likes to eat. The computer puts the meals in to portion sizes and the percentages are based on what profile the client fits. The program is very sensible and it's easy use. Basically, though people just eat to much and people need to be educated. As a trainer, give suggestions on the basis that you are more educated than your client. That's what people need most. Most likely, what they are eating now is more likely to hurt them than what any diet a trainer could suggest.


Ricardo, I have to agree with many of the posters here in regards to the lack of effectiveness of dietitians. The chances of finding a good nutritionist are slightly better than finding an effective personal trainer (they are few and far between) I would try calling a few and talk with them find out their methodologies such as preffered macro nutrient ratios and supplementation etc...
If you find a good one you can send him/her your clients and he/she could do the same. This way you lose the liability of possible legal action and gain a new refferal source! MC


I do give nutritional advice, and A LOT of it. But my advice is on eating habits. Dr. Phil McGraw said "You can't be overweight unless you live a lifestyle that supports it". I first find out how my clients live now, and determine the changes needed. My entire focus is on three main things: 1.Water (this one is obvious to most here). 2. Plan your food. 3. Follow the 4 eating habits of a single meal (this one is proprietary info).

The main objective is to get my clients to live and eat like a lean person. Giving advice this way avoids the problems of screaming RD's (who are usually eating disorder patients anyway).

My concern for the long run with nutritional advice: 1st ammendment rights!! I will lobby if necessary to keep nutritional information and advice free speech. RD's DO NOT have the final word in this.


I try to educate them on "good" carbs, meal combinations and meal frequency... this is a hard enough hump for most of them to get over (eating 5-6 times a day instead of 3). Try to get them to cut out the booze, chips, etc. For more serious advice, I refer them to a sports nutritionist that I have personally had great success with, as well as all of the other referals that I've given him. Note that he's not a dietician, and instead speciallizes in combining excersize with nutrition and can work with them to come up with ways to break thier old eating habits.


What type of backround does the Sports Nutritionist that you recommend have? degrees? certifications?


Forget about basic RD's. I think JB said it best to me in an email. "Most dietitians are worried about the prevention of disease, not to optimize performance". To a basic extent they have the idea but will concentrate only on carbs and tell them to follow the .8 g/kg/day for protein, even if they lift and play sports constantly.


He's got a few college degrees, but I don't know the specialization there (I will see him on Thursday and I'll find out if you like). As for certifications, he's a master sports nutritionist/trainer for NASN (national association of sports nutrition - you can do a google search for it on the web). He's in the socal area - it'll be pretty obvious which guy he is.