08 Apr 2019

What Should a Personal Trainer Know About Food?

Health and Wellbeing AdvicePersonal training

Understandably, clients want to accompany their training program with the right kind of food choices.

Similarly, Personal Trainers understand that without proper nutrition, clients may struggle with weight, metabolism, body composition and keeping control of their health goals.

The good news? Personal Trainers CAN talk to clients about what they eat – to a degree.

But as a qualified Personal Trainer, what should you know about food (and what can you tell your clients)?

smiling lady in sportswear holding a shaker

Personal Trainers and Nutrition Advice

Making general suggestions about the kind of food that’s likely to support a client’s goals is part of your job as a fitness professional, however, you need to ensure you’re abiding by legal regulations.

As a Personal Trainer,

You can…Educate clients about the pillars of good nutrition and provide them with strategies to improve their eating habits, help clients choose the right food to eat before and after a workout, share nutrition ideas to support a client’s healthy lifestyle, and share recipes for healthy meals.

You cannot…Tailor a personalised meal plan for clients, prescribe a diet to treat someone’s medical condition, diagnose any medical condition and plan a diet accordingly, and recommend any supplements for pain, injuries or medical conditions.

Essential Guidelines

  • Avoid advising on nutrition and food fads

No fat, low-carb, high-protein or dairy-free – avoid jumping onto the latest diet bandwagon when advising clients. Instead, focus on advising within the basic nutritional guidelines, according to the current Australian standard.

  • Learn your nutrition guidelines

According to the Australian Dietary Guidelines, there are 5 principal recommendations when it comes to public health outcomes. These include:

  • In order to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, be physically active and choose amounts of nutritious food and drinks to meet your energy needs

  • Enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups each day

  • Limit intake of foods containing saturated fat, added salt, added sugars and alcohol

  • Encourage, support and promote breastfeeding

  • Care for your food; prepare and store it safely

  • Information BEFORE advice

Remember, your personal opinion as a fitness professional should not come before factual information. While you may stick to a paleo diet or avoid meat like the plague, you need to ensure the only information you’re giving your clients is basic nutrition advice. 

  • Watch your language

Keep in mind that you’re providing basic nutrition advice to your clients, not tailoring a personalised plan.  For example, while it’s acceptable to advise clients (i.e. “orange juice is a good source of vitamin C”), you should avoid more definitive statements (i.e. “you should drink more orange juice”).

Berries on toast

Diploma of Nutrition

If you want to expand upon your offerings as a Personal Trainer, consider obtaining additional nutrition knowledge with the Diploma of Nutrition.

Going beyond the basics of healthy eating, this qualification will allow you to advise on food and healthy eating, providing meaningful sports nutrition advice or understanding and creating meal plans. This will allow you to expand upon the advice you give your clients, as well as extend your health and fitness expertise as a qualified Nutrition Advisor or Nutrition Coach.

Want the best of fitness and nutrition? Call 1300 616 180 to get started today.

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Male trainer with arms crossed inside a gym