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How Important is Nutrition and Healthy Eating?

Can you achieve great results with your clients without adressing nutrition? Read this page and answer that question for yourself...

As a personal trainer reading this page I’m sure you’ll realise that nutrition is important – that’s a given really!  The important question for you to consider is, how critical will providing the right type of nutritional guidance to your clients be for the success (or failure) of your personal training business, the health and well-being of your personal training clients…and downstream, their friends and family…and ultimately the health of your nation as a whole? 

Maybe you don’t even think that you need to address nutrition with your clients, and that you should just focus on exercise.   Well consider this reality; your personal training clients will hold you accountable for achieving the goals they desire in the shortest possible timeframe, whether that is weight loss, fat loss or muscle gain.

personal%20training%20stop%20gamblingIf you don’t address nutrition with your clients constructively then you are simply leaving your clients success (and your business success) to chance – and chance is just like the lottery – chances are you’ll never win it!

Consider your clients results in relation to the energy balance personal%25252520training%25252520energy%25252520equationequation. You may deliver four great personal training sessions a week to a client wanting to lose weight, but after every session the client goes home and has a bowl of ice-cream (they feel they deserved it), later in the evening they share a bottle of red wine with their partner, along with a plate of cheese and crackers…all before their dinner, after which they always finish with a sweet desert.  How likely is it that your client will lose weight?  It’s highly unlikely they’ll lose weight…it is however highly likely they’ll consider that personal training with you simply doesn’t work.

And you know what – the client would be correct!  The personal training sessions that you delivered may have been great, and that may have kept your client coming back for more sessions (initially anyway).  But when they realised that they had actually gained weight (quite likely) under your guidance it would be a relatively easy call for them to stop using you, and seek results elsewhere. 

It’s not their fault they didn’t realise their eating habits were undoing all their hard work – it’s your fault for not investigating and addressing their eating habits with them.  You see in most cases the ‘calories in’ (eating) part of the energy balance equation is just as influential as the ‘calories out’ (exercise) part.

personal%252520training%252520rocket%252520scienceAnd like the picture here indicates – nutrition isn’t rocket science!  With a little investigation into your clients eating habits the reasons for unwanted weight gain (or weight loss) are generally obvious.  You don’t need to be a qualified dietician to realise that half a bottle of wine along with cheese and crackers and ice cream every night (on top of normal meals) will interfere with a client’s weight loss goals.  And you don’t need to be a qualified dietician to make your clients aware of their eating habits and help them choose healthier habits that are more inline with their national nutrition guidelines.

By the way – dieticians and nutritionist don’t need qualifications in exercise science or personal training to be able to recommend physical activity to their clients or, low and behold even go for a walk with a few of them…

Now what about ‘the big picture’?  While we debate (as we often do in the health and fitness industries) whether nutrition is important, what’s good or bad in terms of nutrient intakes and who can or cannot provide nutritional guidance, the World Health Organization tells us that…

  • Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980
  • In 2008 1.5 billion adults aged 20 or older were considered overweight, of which 200million men, and 300million women were obese
  • Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in the western world


And let’s look at just one reasonably wealthy western country as a representative example…New Zealand.  In 2003 The New Zealand Ministry of Health (MoH) published a report entitled ‘Nutrition and the Burden of Disease: New Zealand 1997 – 2011’.   Amongst other things the report concluded that:


  • 70% or more of all stroke and heart disease mortality can be attributed to the combined effects of high blood pressure (primarily due to an excessive intake of sodium (salt)), and high total blood cholesterol levels (primarily due to a high intake of saturated fat).
  • More than 80% of diabetes can be attributed to having a higher than optimal Body Mass Index (BMI) as a marker of poor energy balance (i.e. an intake of calories that significantly exceeds caloric expenditure).


The MoH commented that feasible changes in vegetable and fruit intake (i.e. eating more of them) and in reducing BMI (consuming fewer total calories) could have a major impact on population heath within a decade.  Interestingly though, in 2006 the MoH published the ‘Food and Nutrition Monitoring Report’.  This report showed that the average weekly household expenditure on confectionary was greater than the expenditure on fresh fruit. 

personal%20training%20chocolate%20barsIt also showed that over nine times the amount of money was spent advertising chocolate, confectionery and fizzy drinks on television than was spent advertising fruit and vegetables.  Now these statistics would likely be similar across all other relatively wealthy western countries – Australia, South Africa, the USA & Canada, the UK and Ireland.

So is nutrition important – overwhelmingly yes!  Are there challenges to overcome – overwhelmingly yes! Do personal trainers need to address eating habits constructively with their clients to help change the statistics – overwhelmingly yes!

Quite simply if your clients nutritional intake is poor then don’t expect their performance, recovery and adaptations to be anywhere near optimal.  As clients will hold you accountable for them achieving results, then for most clients helping them to improve their nutritional intake will be a key requirement for you as a personal trainer. 

And all the tools and guidance you need to be able to address eating habits constructively with clients are right here at, don’t delay - get into using them today.


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