09 Nov Nutrition Plan v Flexible Dieting
Ok strap yourself in because this may take a while but it will be worth it. Promise.
In a world where the fitness industry is booming, you are always likely to have conflicting ideas and opinions on every matter, no more so than the issue of set nutrition plans.
Set Nutrition Plan
For me, I believe it is important to provide a meal plan to a client when they first subscribe to my services. Of course, unlike many others, this will not be generic. It is devised after consultation – considering a clients food habits, likes and dislikes, intolerances and then accommodated within a formula to help them reach their goals.
By providing a meal plan (alongside a Nutrition Plan Overview, which every client gets) they are able to see that no foods should be demonised as good or bad. They can see first hand how their preferred food choices can be accommodated daily, plus they also get to see the value of foods in the form of calories and macronutrient breakdown.
Another key driver for providing new clients with a meal plan is that it gives them structure, something that is essential to achieve goals. This structure enables clients to know what to eat and allows them more time to think about other pressing issues in their life.
The number of clients, in the infancy of JM, who I tried to educate on macros and set them on their way with My Fitness Pal from the off, who ended up with more stress and anxiety as a consequence, proved there was a better way for me to support them. Most who come to me at JM Fitness and Nutrition, lack knowledge of what types of foods they should be consuming and how they could best benefit them and their goals. Having a meal plan allows clients to improve eating habits, learn about portion control and most importantly learn about calories and macronutrient breakdown.
As a coach, meal plans DO work when supported appropriately.
However there are occasions, and a very valid case, as to why set Nutrition / Meal Plans don’t work. Namely, as they restrict flexibility of food sources in the client. On the most part, meal plans have you eating the same foods consistently. This isn’t sustainable for all. It should also be mentioned that every effort should be given by the coach at this stage to help the client learn about food swaps and how to navigate their way through a flexible dieting approach.
Additionally, from my experience, those who choose not to learn and embrace the IIFYM or flexible dieting approach tend to be the same people who then develop a negative relationship with food also, seeing certain sources as good and bad.
The final point I would like to touch on is that of the coaches responsibility. When a client enquires about your services it is up to you to be transparent, explain to them what the process what will entail, what your expectations are of them and what they should expect of you.
Direct them to your website where they can see what service you will provide for their hard earned cash.
Nutrition plans for a new client have to be individualised. Of course, their will be staple sources you recommend or food hacks you suggest to all of your clients but no 2 plans should be the same in food quantity, food source or macro/caloric breakdown. This ladies and gentleman is the famous cookie cutter diet.
Sadly the internet is awash with cookie cutter diets; a cutting plan, a bulking plan and a maintaining plan for both males and females.
Open one up and you will see the following;
- A ridiculous caloric intake to ensure you (Joe of 150lbs or Joe of 100lbs) is in a caloric surplus (in the bulking plan)
- A ridiculous caloric intake to ensure you (Joe of 150lbs or Joe of 100lbs) is in a caloric deficit (in the cutting plan)
- Same caloric breakdown give or take 2-300 calories for males and females.
- Same bland food sources; think egg whites, broccoli, chicken, rice and oats.
Sound familiar? Or have you been stung by this in the past.
If you haven’t the knowledge or experience to track your macros and want to learn how – invest in a coach, let them guide and teach you how nutrition works and can be optimised to allow you to reach your goals. Embrace a food plan – learn how the calories and macros are specific to you, see how you respond to higher carbs/lower fat or lower carbs/moderate fat. LEARN. Eat the foods you want in moderation and account for them. LEARN. Appreciate how your body responds to different sources. LEARN.
I feel you probably have my take on the whole debate of Set Nutrition Plan vs. Flexible Dieting by now. As a client you have as much responsibility in the process that you sign up to as your coach, if you embrace the challenges mentally via learning as much as you would physically you will only see yourself grow and develop in a multitude of ways.
Drop a comment below with your thoughts. What do you prefer? Did it take you a while to learn? Are you still learning? I’m keen to know and will answer any questions that come up.