Physical trainers are on the front lines of fitness, and are often asked for advice on diet and nutrition as much as they are about exercise. In fact, according to a recent survey by the American Council on Exercise, 75% of trainers say their clients have more trouble maintaining a balanced diet than they do keeping up a workout routine.
To prepare trainers for this requirement, professional fitness organizations (including ACE) have developed specialized certification programs to provide trainers with the nutrition education they need. The thinking is this: A trainer with nutritional expertise can help you structure a more effective diet based on your goals. Be sure to consult with your physician before making any radical changes to your diet or taking supplements—but the right eating plan can help you boost energy, build muscle or lose weight. Here’s how:
An energy-boosting diet plan consists of lean proteins (lean beef, white meat chicken, low-fat dairy, and beans) and ‘good’ carbohydrates (whole-grain baked goods, pastas, cereals and brown rice). These foods help provide energy without adding too much fat or too many calories. Caffeine and sugar (from fruit) can also give you a temporary energy boost.
A muscle-building diet plan emphasizes foods that provide lean protein, like seafood, chicken, lean beef, egg whites and beans. This diet plan may also feature protein supplements and/or high protein muscle enhancement shakes, to help your body metabolize the protein into muscle. (Again, check with your physician before taking any supplements, even protein shakes.)
A weight loss diet plan should offer you maximum nutrition with minimum calories. The only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume, so you need to make every calorie count. A weight loss diet plan tends to be a low-fat but nutrient-dense. This diet emphasizes high-fiber, lean protein and strictly avoids processed foods (which tend to be high in sodium). Eat plenty of vegetables, but not all fruits—which are high in sugar.
Regardless of which diet plan your trainer (or dietician, or doctor) recommends for you, you’ll want to stay hydrated throughout the day—so drink lots of water no matter what your goals happen to be.