American Council on Exercise by American Council on Exercise

NutritionThis blog originally appeared on the Evolution Nutrition blog. Susan Kleiner, Ph.D., in nutrition, discusses how health and fitness professionals can use meal-planning tools to deliver sound nutrition advice while staying within their scope of practice. The ACE Fitness Edition of Evolution Nutrition is one such program that can help you meet the needs of your clients. 

Successful people plan. Building your business depends on your ability to effectively guide your clients as they build their bodies. Whether through a financial plan, a career plan or a family plan, it’s clear that organizing thoughts and deeds on a daily, weekly and monthly basis keeps people moving in a desirable direction. When it comes to nutrition, having the tools and strategies to support behavior change makes all the difference for your clients and your business.

Customization is the buzzword for maintaining forward momentum in your business. Clients don’t hire you for cookie-cutter programming, and you probably spend a lot of time designing their personalized training programs. For clients to achieve maximum success from those efforts, however, their nutrition also needs to be dialed in. While some of your clients have complex health issues that require the specialized training that a registered dietitian (RD) can provide, many of your clients just need good solid nutrition planning and direction based on their health and fitness goals. Be the nutrition manager they need by using tools that can help you provide a diet plan that falls in line with the gold standards of menu planning, created by an RD.

Once you have a menu plan, you must organize your tools and strategies to motivate and support behavior change. Keeping a record is the most important factor to help clients change old habits into new habits. When they write down how they are eating and exercising day to day, they will see and understand what they are actually doing. The act of writing down what you are doing creates personal accountability, which is a major factor in promoting lasting change. Once they see and acknowledge what they have been doing, you’ll have them ready to take the steps toward change. And when they come back to you to take their diet to the next level, be sure to get them logging again.

Support success by looking for plans that include items your client already eats. Most people aren’t ready to follow a completely new approach to eating, and your goal should be to make it as easy as possible to follow through. I ask clients about what foods they like and dislike, what allergies or sensitivities they have, what foods and beverages work best for them around exercise, and even whether they regularly eat at home, at work or between activities. I load all of this information into each client’s log and I pick current and future plans based on these factors.

Many clients like to have lots of tips and pointers, such as recipes and shopping lists, how to prepare food for several days ahead of time, packable lunches and snacks, recovery foods, and what to do with leftovers. Keep it simple. Getting them into an easy- to- follow routine will keep them on track, and help them stay with it. Don’t expect big lifestyle changes right away; that will come with time and success. Helping your clients blend your new plan in with their current schedules and lifestyles will go miles toward getting them to achieve real results.

Create ongoing value by staying in contact with your clients on a regular basis. Sending simple motivational messages and training and nutrition tips lets them know you’re there with them, and reminds them they’ve paid you money to help them reach their goals, which is usually a real motivator. Nothing keeps people going more than knowing they’ve got someone supporting them, so go get ‘em.

Susan M. Kleiner, whose long list of credentials begins with a Ph.D. in nutrition, maintains one foot in the academic world and one foot in the business world. After her doctoral research on the Influence of Dietary Fats and Cholesterol, and Anabolic Steroids on the Lipoprotein Profiles and Body Composition of Competitive Male Bodybuilders, she continued to research and publish her seminal work on male and female bodybuilders. Dr. Kleiner has continued to research and publish in the field of sports nutrition and supplements, and has also established herself through research and publications as an expert in hydration and health. Dr. Kleiner has consulted with professional teams, including the Seattle Seahawks and Supersonics, the Cleveland Browns and Cavaliers, the Miami Heat, Olympians and elite athletes in countless sports. Dr. Kleiner is the owner of High Performance Nutrition, LLC, a consulting firm in Mercer Island, Wash. She is a scientific advisor to numerous businesses in the industry, and is the author of seven popular books, including POWER EATING®, The Oxygen Diet Solution, The Good Mood Diet®, and The POWERFOOD Nutrition Plan.