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December 11, 2013, 12:00AM PT in Exam Preparation Blog  |  0 Comments

Health Coach Helper: Lesson 3

ACE Health Coach ManualThis next portion of material—Chapters 6, 7 and 15—dives into nutrition basics and nutritional programming. Now, it’s important to keep in mind a Health Coach’s Scope of Practice, so we don’t overstep our boundaries, but the nutrition information that we provide is crucial to their success! You may be wondering why, if you can’t tell your clients what to eat, it is important to learn about nutrition. Well, there are so many other aspects of nutrition that we can educate our clients on in regards to their behavior, and we can provide them with the tools to make more healthful food choices, whether they are cooking at home or eating on the go.

When it comes to nutrition, it’s not always what a client eats that is going to affect his or her weight (although it can be), but rather the amounts that are being consumed. Correcting the portion distortion we have as Americans is a HUGE issue (pun intended), and so many times we just have no idea what a “serving size” actually is. As a Health Coach, it’s our responsibility to educate our clients on these important concepts so they can understand how to create a caloric deficit with physical activities and mild caloric restrictions to achieve their weight-loss goals. One of the biggest challenges Health Coaches face is educating clients about how to adapt a more healthful, mindful diet WITHOUT actually telling them what to eat or what not to eat. The ways we accomplish this are by exploring what their typical diet might look like, identifying any negative dietary trends (i.e., skipping breakfast, excessive snacking, etc.) and educating them on healthy, accessible meals and meal-preparation options. Our main focus is to shift our clients’ dietary focus to eating for nourishment to best fuel their bodies.

Within section, I highly recommend reading and working through the “Expand Your Knowledge” and “Think It Through” sections. As a Health Coach, people are going to look to you to for answers about common myths and mistakes when it comes to diet. A perfect example of this is found in Chapter 6 (page 130), which talks about high-protein diets. This is a common concern, and many of the fad-diets that are out right now preach choosing only low-carb, high-protein calorie sources. It’s essential that you know how and why these different diets can affect the body, both positively and negatively. I’d love to hear (in the comment section of this blog) how you would respond to Ashley, the theoretical client in the example given in this section.

Key Points Chapter 6:

  • The "Basics" for Each of the Macronutrients (fats, carbs, proteins) - kcals per gram, the different types and building blocks (structure), metabolism/storage, etc.
  • Digestion & Absorption – where the macronutrients are digested and absorbed
  • Micronutrients (vitamins/minerals/water) - where some good sources come from—especially those that appear on food labels or where deficiencies can have serious consequences (e.g., iron-deficient anemia, osteoporosis and calcium/vitamin D, fat- vs. water-soluble vitamins, effects of dehydration)

Key Points Chapter 7:

  • Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI) - the difference between Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs), Estimated Average Requirement (EAR), Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL), and Adequate Intake (AI)
  • Reading a Nutrition Label – Serving Size, % of Daily Value, and being able to do the math when it comes to how many calories are coming from the different sources
  • Nutrition and Hydration for Sports and Fitness - determining caloric needs (you do NOT need to know the RMR equation for the purposes of your exam), Glycemic Index (GI), specific recommendations before, during and after for the three macronutrients and water
  • Caloric Balance - (negative caloric balance=weight loss vs. positive caloric balance = weight gain) and how to determine the caloric deficit needed to lose the desired amount of weight in a particular time frame (discussed further in Chapter 15)
  • Special Nutrition Considerations - aging, obesity, diabetes, hypertension (and DASH Diet), osteoporosis, pregnancy and lactation, gluten-free, vegetarian/vegan diets
  • Eating Disorders - anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder (discussed more in-depth in chapter 9)

Chapter 15 Key Points:

  • Nutritional Interviewing - different techniques to observe clients diet (24-hour recall, food diary, etc.) and the pros and cons of each
  • Portion Size
  • Foods to Encourage or Discourage
  • Scope of Practice - Table 15-2 on page 429
  • Caloric Balance - (negative caloric balance=weight loss vs. positive caloric balance = weight gain) and how to determine the caloric deficit needed to lose the desired amount of weight in a particular time frame (e.g., 15 pounds in 10 weeks) and doing it in a healthy, realistic timeframe of 1 to 2 pounds per week

Thanks for reading my blog—I hope this information was helpful to you! I knowit can be difficult to know exactly what you can and can’t say when it comes to nutrition, so if you have any other questions or concerns on this, please don’t hesitate to ask. The next lesson I will discuss covers Chapters 8 and 9, so keep an eye out for that blog post soon. If you have any feedback on these blogs, or if you have a study questions, you can comment on this blog. Or contact our Resource Center at 800-825-3636, Ext. 796, where our Study Coaches are available Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. PST.

By Jessie Newell


Jessie Newell is a Study Assistance Representative at ACE. Jessie earned her B.S. in Kinesiology: Fitness Specialist from San Diego State University and ACE Personal Training Certification in 2012. She also earned a Basic Hatha Yoga and Let It Go Yoga Certification through Let It Go Yoga in Santa Barbara, CA. She loves to learn and enjoys being continuously challenged by the questions of those she works with. The choice to pursue health and fitness stems from her two passions: helping people and science! Since she was 19 she worked in a Wellness Center setting and she saw the positive impact that an active lifestyle has on one’s well-being in action, and because of these, aspires to help others find their happiest and healthiest self through her knowledge in the wellness field.

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