It can be a slippery slope to navigate when your clients ask you for a certain diet or actual meal plan to follow.
While we all know as personal trainers that a healthy diet is just as important as exercise, are we really qualified to make out complete diets that they should follow?
After all, we are not certified nutritionists or registered dieticians, so the advice we offer must be done so in general terms.
A nutritionist or registered dietitian (RD) usually has a degree in health and nutrition and is generally accredited by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Most personal trainers probably do not have this recognition. While we may have the knowledge about eating healthy, we do not have the credentials to back it up.
We have to be very careful about offering up anything other than general advice, like consume more protein and have a calorie restriction on your diet, otherwise we may step over some boundaries.
RDs and nutritionists have spent years learning about the human body, proper nutrition, anatomy, and many other things to provide diet advice that is medically correct.
It would be a horrible feeling to have if someone you were training and provided meal plans for came down with serious health issues.
While it may not be your fault at all, you never know what the courts may determine if there is a lawsuit. In a society that is lawsuit happy, you must protect yourself.
In addition, there are fines that can be dealt down by the government if they believe you are offering dietary and nutrition plans without having the credentials to do so.
The government loves to fine people and it is best not to give them a reason to do it to you.
What You Can Do
Trainers are allowed to offer their clients diet counseling.
This could entail them bringing in a list of what they eat every week, and then going over each item and listing the pros and cons to the food or drink.
This will provide them with some knowledge on what they should be eating and what they shouldn’t.
There are currently 46 US states that have rules in place about certification requirements for nutritional counseling. Think about this next time someone asks you for a meal plan.
When offering diet advice, you probably have the best intentions in mind.
But nowadays, you must protect yourself against any legalities that may occur down the road.
To be on the safe side, recommend some diet books written by health professionals or just say that for them to get the best results possible, they really need to speak with a nutritionist or dietitian.
Also, explain to your clients that temporary diets do not work.
They will have to make a true lifestyle change for the results to be maintained. They should respect your honesty in the process without coming away with any negative feelings.
You probably love helping others achieve their fitness goals and it would be a tragedy if it was taken away from you through a technicality.