Without proper nutrition, an exercise program is useless and can sometimes yield worse results then if not not exercising at all with proper nutrition. Therefore, it important that information be provided yet at a level within your scope of practice. This should be commensurate with your knowledge, skills, and abilities attained from an education and tested within a certification. Depending on the certification and level of education of a health/fitness professional this can extend to providing “general” nutritional advice. The difference between crossing into the field of dietetics is when you get “personalized” and doing dietary intake assessments, counseling, and evaluating and prescribing nutrition. Like LaRue mentioned, the MyPlate and USDA recommended daily intake are good starting points for providing general nutritional information. It is all about education – energy balance, essential nutrients, food density, food in a normal daily diet, whole food vs adulterated, food and supplements of good sources of essential nutrients, principles of good nutrition and food preparation…
This should give you some room to work.
Source: Sass et al. 2007
Fuel the Movement,
It starts with your scope of practice and what you are certified to teach. I would suggest sending your clients to a Wellness Coach or to a Nutritional Counselor if you are not comfortable in the role of changing a persons eating plan.
I would review your ACE Personal Training Guidelines and make it clear to your client that you can only make suggestions to them.
My approach is to give other options to my clients based on the “real food principle” I do not give out diets per se, but I will suggest a “better food choice”.
When looking at a new clients nutrition and needs there are a few basic steps you want to address. The first thing you want to do is look at what/how they are eating now. You can do this by having them journal for about three days without judgement. As far finding out what their actual caloric needs are, unless you have access to a machine you can only get a general answer to this question. There are a lot of calorie calculators on the internet and for the most part you are going to get the same results. When looking at making changes to their diet remember not to go too far away from where they are today. The reason for this is most people will not be able to sustain such a dramatic lifestyle change too quickly. Take baby steps if they drink 6 sodas per day for example you can’t expect them to go cold turkey and drink only water. Reduce their intake to 2 sodas per day and so on.
As far as the exercise component take it somewhat slow. When beginning their exercise regiment you want to focus on movement education. You will also want to have them become a generally more active person doing things like parking their car a little further from a place they want to go, getting out there to walk more often are good examples. You want to get them doing resistance training 3 times per week keeping movements slow and concentrated.
I hope this helped. Remember to be your clients biggest support and if you can try to get others in this clients circle of influence to support their choice in living a healthy life. These people can be make it or break it factors as well.