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.
All good answers. Emphasize to your clients that if calorie intake is insufficient to match calorie expenditure, whether it’s simply resting metabolic rate (RMR) or the combined expenditure associated with activities of daily living and additional exercise, the body will draw on tissues not normally used in metabolic processes. Critically important is that the body uses far more protein than it normally uses for energy production. A primary source is skeletal muscle (some organ tissue). The muscle atrophy that results can lead to a number of health problems. Primary among these is a decrease in RMR since skeletal muscle expends energy even at rest.
I agree with those who support the idea that all we can do as trainers to help our clients is to educate them and give them the facts and show them the best way to live a healthy life. In the end, our clients are the ones who decide to listen to our suggestions and make the commitment, or not. I think whatever you can present to those clients in the way of studies or articles is helpful, whether you email those specifically to targeted clients who are struggling, or whether you sneak them into e-newsletters or even a blog. There are some excellent articles on this website, so you could start there.
Sometimes it’s not about convincing. Sometimes it’s about reading another person’s story and seeing themselves in it.
A healthy weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week. It may be more initially depending on how sedentary and how much the person weighs when first starting the program. Based on the 20 lbs lost in 7 months that is a good weekly weight loss average. Clients calorie consumption will vary on a day to day basis no matter the goal. The important thing here is to educate the client on micronutrients and when in a caloric deficit there is going to be greater demand for micronutrients. This is where you suggest a multivitamin to give them (and you)assurance they are getting the micronutrients they need to support daily body functions to ensure they reach their goal safely.
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.
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!