It is a hazy area. The facts as I understand them are that if a personal trainer creates a meal plan for a client it is outside of their scope of practice. It may never become a legal issue, but if it comes to light the personal trainer could be in for a very rough time. The client could claim that they had an adverse reaction to the food. Or could actually have an adverse reaction. The trainer would not be covered by their insurance, so all of their personal assets and future income would be at risk. They could be barred from working as a personal trainer in their state or nationally. Their working outside of their scope would most likely result in their certifying organization stripping their certification. Now as to other legal actions such as being charged with a criminal offense or taken to civil court, I don’t really know. If I can’t make a living staying in my scope of practice, I would find another way to make a living.
I agree with Harris’s reply, also like to add best bet for you is to consult a legal council state/country on the wording of the client intake form and waivers etc..
What I do with my clients I use the term meal suggestions/advice at the end of it I asked them to get this approved by a Medical Practitioner/or RD so that it gives results and safe on part of the trainer coach& Client/athlete
There is no difference between an online program like the one you’ve mentioned and giving a diet plan yourself. A nutritional advice is just that, an advice. I prefer to work with dietitians especially when the client needs something specific and personalized. Now there are apps that help with keeping track of the caloric counting and I believe they an be useful because they keep the client in some kind of accountability when it comes to food. But even with these apps a dietitian should be the one to design a diet plan and the amount and type of calories this person needs each day to be on the safe side. As far as being legal or not, there are no such regulations (from my understanding) at any state that prohibits trainers or anyone else to give a nutritional advice to another person….otherwise all of these apps would be illegal. This industry is very unregulated.