How do I convince my clients not enough calories is as bad as too many calories?
I have a couple of clients who are under their daily caloric needs for weight loss. The calories were calculated using their body fat %, age, height, weight, and activity level. One client should be around 1900 and after having him keep track of his calories for a week, he fluctuated from 1100 to 1700 per day. I tried to explain how we need to slowly introduce calories into his diet, but he's so afraid of gaining weight. He's lost about 20 pounds already and is down 1 pound from last week. Is it better to allow his to continue his eating habits or get his calories up? He really needs the calories to continue building muscle and keep his energy level up to perform better. We train about 3 days a week with various workouts that range from strength training, to endurance training, to power and interval training.
*I should add that we started training in January, so he's lost 20 pounds in about 7 months. He still need to drop about 12 more pounds of body fat.
I noticed that you took the WITS course in order to become a personal trainer. I am a former instructor for WITS.
One of the things that I thought was a key point in the WITS course was the section on macronutrients. This section is key as many of our clients really don't understand why we need four of the five main macronutrients in our diet on a daily basis, and even more so, we need them if we are using our bodies in such a way that the fuel sources for energy (carbs, fat) are being consumed at a greater rate than if we were not physically active.
However, to answer your question, I'd like to share a story with you that transpired between me and one of my clients who had a great amount of weight to lose. She was finding her new healthy way of eating very challenging and posed this question to me:
Joanne, what is the difference between eating 1650 calories of ice cream throughout the day or 1650 calories of eating fruits, grains, lean meats etc? She added, if weight loss is, as you mentioned, all about energy consumed and energy expended, does it really matter what I eat?
Nicole, to this day I thank her for that question as it forced me to think about food, specifically macronutrients, in a different way.
My answer to her was, "Yes. You can eat 1650 calories worth of ice cream throughout the day, engage in physical activity and lose weight. However, because you omitting important macronutrients in your diet, specific metabolic processes that must occur in order to stay alive can not happen at an optimum level as a consequence of the the omission of these macronutrients. It would be a pity for you to have reached your desired health/fitness/weight loss goals t the expense of your health."
Here is the take home point. Keep it simple. If you don't know already, learn first for yourself why we need, carbohydrates, fats, water and proteins in our diets and what role they play in carrying out specific metabolic processes related to maintenance of a healthy organism. In this way when our clients eat they see the VALUE of what they are ingesting and how it plays an important part in reaching their health/fitness/wellness goals.
I sure hope this helpful to you and wish you success with your clients.
In a short nutshell, as we move through our day our activity and caloric intake must balance. If our caloric balance is that being that we are consuming more calories than we require then our bodies store the excess calories as body fat (adipose tissue) as a fuel reserve. If we are not supplying enough calories for fuel then our bodies will cannibalize themselves by converting existing muscle mass into fuel and hence give up our lean body mass that requires caloric fuel so that the lower amounts of fuel will balance with the amount of lean mass requiring fuel.
During their fitness evaluation I determine their body composition, learn their individual daily activity level between sedentary and active, and using a formula determine their total calories and daily caloric percentages of Protein, Carbs and Fats.
However, one client of mine, who didn't eat enough before the workout, always hit a wall halfway through the workout. They would get dizzy, nauseus and need to cut the workout short at times or take longer breaks in between sets. I always asked them what they had to eat before coming to see me and the answer was usually something like "I had a banana" or "Just some coffee". I had to explain that their bodies are machines that need fuel to operate, and without fuel the machine can't work as effective. Then I would tell them, as and experiment, to eat some oatmeal with a banana and a cup of yogurt before our next workout, then eat a protein shake right after the workout and see how they feel. Sure enough, their workouts got more intense and they got the results they were looking for quicker.
Hope this helps.
To Deprive Earns you NO HIGH FIVE! In my book :)
We can only go so far and say so much, in the end the cllient needs to change their behavior in order to be successful
We can guide, coach, suggest, support, persuade, and talk until we are blue in the face
Change begins inside your client!
I hope that this helps.
I am also wondering whether the client, while being ask to keep a food diary for a week, may have during that time self-restricted his caloric intake simply on account of the fact that he was writing it down. I also would consider the fact that self-reported food quantities and calories are usually underestimated.
I would much rather pay attention to the quality of the food; Joanne has made that point beautifully.
Bottom line is that you exert an amount of energy, your calories taken in are nutrient dense and balanced, and you are involved in a healthy workout regime you're body will conform to a healthy shape. If you're client feels like he is more advanced or can do w/o the extra calories make sure he is aware of how the body works and performs at peak such as the above comments have illustrated.
Explain that the metabolism is damaged (slowed down) because of dieting and it is important to find the metabolic set point then boost it up, without gaining weight.
i always use analogys when it comes to eating with my clients.i had a client once not eating enough in fear of gaining weight. i simply told him this;
take your metabolism as a flame and you want to keep that flame burning, the good food that we take in will be like wood to the flame, so you have to keep feeding it to keep that flame burning high, if you dont have enough wood(food) the flame(metabolism) will not be burning well enough. and also i made it clear that bad calories or empty calories taken in the body will act as an extinguisher to that flame rather than an igniter. this analogy always helped my clients because it helped them imagine and paint a picture in their mind and compare it to theri body, fun and gets them to the point ':)
hope it helps
Although you don't say so I assume you are monitoring your clients muscle to fat ratio not just their weight. The ultimate goal should be improved body composition rather than just a lower number in lbs on the scale. If your client is not gaining lean muscle mass, or worse, LOSING muscle, explain that muscles need adequate amounts of nutrients to grow, and without enough calories to feed the muscles their progress will stall. I use the analogy of gas in the car, when the tank runs dry you aren't going ANYWHERE!
rather than focusing on the calories he is consuming, focus on his energy levels when doing his exercises, quality of sleep he is getting nightly and how many lbs he lost during the week. If the client is losing more than 1-2 lbs per week, suggest adding an extra 200 calories to his daily intake until he gets back to that 1-2 lb weight loss.