Online Nutrition Coaching

Dec 6, 2018

By Tim Saye

Now that you helped your client set their SMART goals, a great next step as an online coach is to design their lifestyle plan, ideally this should be sustainable but gets great results. This is where your data analysing skills, personal training experience and your creativity will meet to present a plan to your clients they will love. You can show them how much you listened and that you care about them and their success by creating a framework that fits in with their current lifestyle but challenges them to create new habits.

A lifestyle plan can be split into three main areas that are equally important for balance and fitness success: nutrition, exercise and recovery. Your clients’ new lifestyle plan should include elements from all three to help them achieve their fitness goals while aiming to improve their quality of life. This article will explore the tools and methods you can use to help your clients improve their nutrition.

Nutrition Coaching

Unless your client has a very good understanding of how their body works and what type of fuel it needs for specific activities, nutrition is going to be a very important area you will want to address to aid results.

However, not every client is fully ready at the beginning to make significant changes to their diet, even when they know they should. One great method you can use is to create three different client nutrition types based on how much help they need with their food.

- Low Maintenance – they either already follow a reasonably good, balanced diet or they are fully on board changing their habits with no hesitation and can do it almost immediately.

- Medium Maintenance – they understand what changes they need to make and able to adhere to new rules but struggle to stay consistent.

- High Maintenance – they are the people who need the most help and support and potentially are the least ready to change their habits.

Ideally, as your clients progress towards their fitness goals, their classification would also move towards the low spectrum.

How to Approach the Client Nutrition Types

You don’t need to intervene with the low maintenance group too heavily, however getting them to track their intake for periodic reviews can be a good idea to make sure they stay on track.

Those on the medium spectrum will need a bit more accountability. You can provide this via regular check-ins and/or by creating a community support system where they can discuss their struggles with their peers and grab ideas and solutions from each other.

Expect that the clients in the high maintenance group will need the most support with their nutrition habits. If you have the relevant qualifications, crack on and coach them specifically for their challenges and goals. Often taking small steps at first and building up as you go along is a great approach with high maintenance clients.

If you feel that going in-depth with client nutrition is out of your scope, consider collaboration options with a nutritionist or dietitian so your clients will get the support they need to see the desired results.

Make Your Clients’ Nutrition Plan Dead Easy

The best plan is the one your clients can stick to long-term. Unless you are helping a bodybuilder prep for an event or a client to slim down for a holiday or a wedding, the plan they receive should be very easy for them to follow, in line with their goals and sustainable for life.

For example, if someone is working from home full time or simply is a stay-at-home mum, encouraging them to eat as many home cooked meals as possible may be a good idea. However, make sure that implementing new habits like grocery shopping and food prep is within their capabilities and they are ready to commit.

If someone is not at that stage yet, set smaller, achievable nutrition goals, like eating a certain number of meals every day, only allowing 1 snack per day, increasing their vegetable intake by two portions every day, having a home cooked meal three times a week or even swapping take-outs to ready meals from the “healthy” or “low calorie” section of the supermarket.

For some clients on the high maintenance spectrum even a small a task like checking food labels and making food shopping choices based on the traffic light system and/or the ingredient list can be a challenge at first. Focus on meeting your clients where they are and encourage them to implement new habits that will gradually help them to eat better.

Tools You Can Employ to Help Your Clients Adhere to their Nutrition Goals

- Habit Check-Ins – Get your clients to check-in daily to report on how they are getting on with their current nutrition habit – e.g. water log, alcohol log, coffee/tea log, vegetable/fruit log, etc.

- Recipes – Providing a few example recipes for specific goals will save time and make your clients life easier.

- Restaurant Meal Recommendations – If a client has no time, skill or desire to cook for themselves, but have a few options for eating out, you can look up chain restaurant menus and recommend meals that will fit your clients plan.

- Food Logging – Clients who are eager to figure out where they go wrong with their food will be happy to start logging their food intake but remember not everybody may be ready for that yet. Using My Fitness Pal can work well so long it makes the process easy for your client. Here's how to integrate My Fitness Pal in to PT Distinction.

Food Tracking for Rookies

Before you can help your clients identify areas of improvement in their diet, you will want to know exactly what they're eating. Food tracking is not a habit that will come naturally for everybody, so finding the best method for each of your clients is imperative.

If someone is not good with journals or is not keen on learning how My Fitness Pal works, encourage them to take a photo of all their meals before they start eating. Creating a habit of reporting on what they eat will already encourage them to make better choices, when they are ready to do so.

PT Distinction Nutrition Tools

The good news is, wherever your clients are right now, PT Distinction has the features to support your clients on their road to nutrition success. From simple habit reminders, to photo food diary and My Fitness Pal integration we give you the tools you need to support your clients with their nutrition.

If you're ready to coach clients online and get great results grab your free trial of PT Distinction here.